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Landscape with Invisible Hand

by Anderson, M. T.

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-The vuvv came in peace, offering new technology and life-changing medical breakthroughs. Yet their presence on Earth has slowly eroded Adam Costello's small town. Joblessness, illness, and food scarcity are the realities of his shaky existence, and his only solace is in his painting. When Adam begins to date Chloe, they realize that there's a moneymaking opportunity in their relationship. Taking advantage of the vuvv's fascination with 1950s-era American life, Adam and Chloe plan to film themselves going on old-fashioned dates. The aliens are willing to pay top dollar to watch these episodes. But the teens' love soon turns to animosity, and their grand plan holds dire implications for their families. This sharp, compelling, slim volume packs a punch. Anderson's vivid world could be a mirror for many American communities today. Poverty and its impact on food, health, and daily life are rendered in stark detail. Adam's passion for painting and his idealism in the face of the commercialistic vuvv are a moving nod to the power of art to transform lives. Despite the heavy subject material and pervading sense of doom, the book ends on a hopeful note, making this a solid choice for a variety of readers. VERDICT An engrossing, speculative look at life in the margins, this is a first purchase for libraries serving teens.-Erinn Black Salge, Morristown-Beard School, NJ © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly Anderson (Symphony for the City of the Dead) sets this biting and brilliant satire on a near-future Earth where an alien race called the vuvv has brought advanced technology and cures for disease-and ushered in the collapse of Earth's economy. Adam Costello, a 15-year-old artist beset by gastrointestinal illness, and his family are among the many desperate for money and work. Reluctantly, Adam and his girlfriend, Chloe, broadcast an exaggerated 1950s-quaint, pay-per-view version of their romance to the vuvv, who are entranced by "classic" Earth culture-doo-wop music, still-life paintings, and the notion of true, everlasting love. With Adam's relationship with Chloe imploding, his illness worsening, and his art gaining vuvv attention, he must decide whether to bend to the whims of the vuvv or stay true to his humanity. Adam narrates in gloomy, vignettelike chapters whose titles ("Autumn in a Field Near a Discharge Facility") give the sense of each scene existing as a painting in itself. The vuvv, described as resembling "granite coffee tables: squat, wide, and rocky," are only interested in the parts of Earth culture they choose to acknowledge, and ignore the sweeping damage they've inflicted. "I just love the human race," one of the vuvv tells Adam, patronizingly. "You people are so much more spiritual than we are." Anderson takes issues of colonialism, ethnocentrism, inequality, and poverty and explodes them on a global, even galactic, scale. A remarkable exploration of economic and power structures in which virtually all of humanity winds up the losers. Ages 14-up. Agent: David McCormick, McCormick Literary. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* Some fear that hypercapitalist technocrats, under the guise of altruism and progress, are fleecing the world; Anderson (Feed, 2002) stretches this premise to deliriously enjoyable extremes. In this novella-sized offering, an alien race known as the vuvv has overtaken the universe by promising to put an end to suffering with advanced technology. For most people on Earth, things don't pan out as planned. Sure, rich people in collusion with the vuvv get to live in sky mansions, but everyone stuck on the ground must contend with devastating poverty, a ruined environment, and the sundry humiliations of catering to a ruling class shaped like coffee tables. Enter Adam, our teenage hero, who happens to be a sarcastic artist suffering from considerable gastrointestinal distress. He and girlfriend Chloe start bringing in decent cash by streaming fake dates to vuvv audiences enamored with the notion of '50s sitcom romance. But when they break up in real life, can they keep up the illusion of being in love? What humiliations will they endure to keep their families from going hungry? Throw in a romantic rival, an interplanetary art contest, and plenty of scintillating details about the Lovecraftian horrors of the vuvv, and you've got the makings of an elegant, biting, and hilarious social satire that will appeal to dissatisfied, worried readers of all ages.--Williamson, Eugenia Copyright 2017 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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