The Children’s Book Review | November 9, 2017
Written by M.T. Anderson
Age Range: 12-18
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Candlewick Press (2017)
What to Expect: Science Fiction, Aliens, Art, Relationships
Science fiction meets gritty realism in M. T. Anderson’s thought-provoking new novella, Landscape with Invisible Hand. Eschewing the more sensational temptations of alien technologies and inter-species warfare, Anderson’s novel instead provides a chilling prediction about what would happen if we were to meet a race which shared our fundamental values and cultural frameworks, but surpassed our technological abilities. Depicting a world in which all humans suffer the inequalities and deprivations that are currently endured by the developing world and the poor, this novel is as much about what it means to be human as it is about what aliens might be like.
Aspiring artist Adam is living through the immediate aftermath of an alien invasion. After the Vuvv made contact with Earth, their gentle insinuation of themselves and their technologies and culture into the elite societies of human-kind has resulted in wide-spread poverty, hunger, and dependency for the majority of those who were once the comfortable middle and upper classes of the developed world. Adam lives with his sister and his out-of-work mother, after his father – also now out of work – abandoned them. When another family move in to their basement as paying tenants, Adam is thrilled to have formed a relationship with the beautiful daughter, Chloe, and things get even better when their young love becomes a source of income: obsessed with 1950s human romance culture, the Vuvv will pay top dollar for live-action footage of the couple’s day-to-day life. However, things become complicated when Adam and Chloe’s relationship finds itself on the rocks, and Adam is forced to consider more and more closely exactly what he will have to sacrifice in order to survive in this new world.
Anderson’s narrative strategy, of unfolding the story through a series of vignettes posed as artwork and titled accordingly, is particularly effective at revealing the intricate detail of human experience. The novella is short but rich, and the gritty realism creates an uncomfortable sense of uncanniness as readers are forced to acknowledge that Vuvv culture is monstrous because it is so human. The story is insightful and chilling; a wonderful recommendation for any true science fiction enthusiast.
About the Author
M. T. Anderson is the author of Feed, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; the National Book Award–winning The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party and its sequel, The Kingdom on the Waves, both New York Times bestsellers and Michael L. Printz Honor Books; Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad; and many other books for children and young adults. He lives near Boston, Massachusetts.
Landscape with Invisible Hand, by M. T. Anderson, was reviewed by Dr. Jen Harrison. Discover more books like Landscape with Invisible Hand by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Aliens, Art, M. T. Anderson, Relationships, and Science Fiction.