Goodreads blurb: It’s the week before the annual Pay Day when strata positions are decided by the controlling corporations. The social media feed is frenetic with people trying to boost their influence rating while those above the strata and those who’ve opted out pursue their own manipulative goals.
Amber is ambitious. Martin is burnt out by years of struggling. She cheats to get what she wants while he barely clings on to what he has.
Set in a speculative near-future London, Fluence is a satirical story of aspiration and desperation and of power seen and unseen. It’s a story of control and consequence. It’s the story of the extremes to which Amber and Martin are prepared to go in these last ten thousand minutes before Pay Day.
This was one of those books that I picked up to read and review on an impulse without knowing anything about either the genre, the author or the narrative. And to be brutally fair to the author and his efforts, it was quite a good attempt at a readable book in the science fiction genre.
As can be gleaned from the blurb, the action in this book takes place in a near-future dystopian London, where the ‘big corporations’ divide people into various ‘social strata’ based on their ‘influence’ rating among their peers. And as if things couldn’t get crazy enough with this premise, there are the ‘outliers’ who have voluntarily opted out of the ‘strata system’ and then there are the ‘reds’, the people at the very top of the system who manipulate the entire system for their own gains.
Set in the middle of this melee are the stories of Amber Walgace and Martin Brown, two people who work for the same department in the Bureaucracy, and both of whom are quite desperate to make it to the next strata. They only have one week to go before the Annual Pay Day when everybody’s strata positions are re-calibrated based on their fluence. And this book deals with incidents in their lives during the course of this one week.
While Amber is presented as this ‘go-getter’ who would do anything and even cut corners to make it to the next level, Martin seems to be suffering from an overdose of empathy for his fellow human beings and almost all his actions end up damaging his fluence and thereby ruining his chances of moving up the strata. But then Amber has her well laid out plans sabotaged by a mysterious blackmailer and she faces her fair share of hurdles in her last week before Pay Day.
Do Amber and Martin make it to the next level, are they willing to make the necessary sacrifices, are there bigger forces at work moving behind the scenes to control the movements across the various strata…..these are some of the questions that the narrative answers.
What I liked about this book was it pretty much holds up a mirror to the new gen fad of youngsters wanting more and more ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ of their social networking statuses. In fact I would go far enough to say that this book reads more like a science fiction horror story of social networking addiction gone horribly wrong. How big corporations piggy back on social media addiction and nymphomaniac tendencies of youngsters nowadays, how they manage to manipulate our minds into believing in the social strata, how they manage to ultimately control our entire lives forms a major part of the overarching theme that is dealt with in the book.
What however put me off about the book was its length. After setting up the initial premise, the characters and the arc, the author could have opted for a tauter, tighter narrative and infused the proceedings with a lot more urgency than he did. And the net result is that the book ended up being a little draggy and laggy in parts which somewhat spoilt the whole experience for me.
Read this book if you are looking to read something radically different from what you have in the science fiction genre.
Click here to purchase the book from Amazon [Link].
A review copy of this book was provided to me by b00kr3vi3ws in return for an honest and unbiased review of the same.