Featured Review: Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson
About This Book:
National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson returns to future Earth in a sharply wrought satire of art and truth in the midst of colonization. When the vuvv first landed, it came as a surprise to aspiring artist Adam and the rest of planet Earth — but not necessarily an unwelcome one. Can it really be called an invasion when the vuvv generously offered free advanced technology and cures for every illness imaginable? As it turns out, yes. With his parents’ jobs replaced by alien tech and no money for food, clean water, or the vuvv’s miraculous medicine, Adam and his girlfriend, Chloe, have to get creative to survive. And since the vuvv crave anything they deem "classic" Earth culture (doo-wop music, still-life paintings of fruit, true love), recording 1950s-style dates for the vuvv to watch in a pay-per-minute format seems like a brilliant idea. But it’s hard for Adam and Chloe to sell true love when they hate each other more with every passing episode. Soon enough, Adam must decide how far he’s willing to go — and what he’s willing to sacrifice — to give the vuvv what they want.
*Review Contributed By Kim Baccellia, Staff Reviewer*
Landscape with Invisible Hand
Aliens have invaded Earth and promise to share their technology. Of course most people are very excited about the idea that Earth will have advanced technology, but they don't realize the cost. Adam watches as his parents lose their jobs to this technology. Then his father leaves the family. His mother rents the house out to another displaced family. Adam hooks up with Chloe, the daughter of the family and together they put together a pay by the minute recording of their romance. They do this to survive. Only their loves fizzles in the process. Adam needs to find another way to help his family survive the alien's colonization.
What worked: This is a sharp, funny at times, satire on what would happen if an advance race invaded Earth. Only in this case it's colonizing our planet. There's a huge cost to receiving the so-called advanced technology. A cost that leaves people out of work and money almost useless. I thought it was very intriguing how Andersen shows how an alien race can take over a world and at the same time show their disdain for the inhabitants of the world. **Show kind of familiar?
Adam witnesses the after effect of the invasion and wants to help his mother and younger sister out. The whole idea of recording a romance using old 1950s culture and slang(aliens first encounter Earth in the 1940s), is creative, but what at first was an easy way to get money, grows old fast. We see this world through Adam's eyes. I wanted to see more of Chloe and how she really felt about all of this. At times she seemed almost too unlikable on how she viewed Adam. He has Merrick's disease, a terrible stomach disease based on having to drink unpurified water(the aliens don't need that). Her comments about this felt almost too petty.
I loved the glimpses into the Vuvv. There's lots of rich details-the condos in the sky; snobbery against the Earth inhabitants; and their love of anything in the 50s. Also I felt there was so much parallelism of this world with our own history of occupying countries and imposing our will on those people.
I also loved the humor woven throughout the novel. Adam's final realization on how he can beat the aliens seems almost genius. Let's just say he does take lemons and make them into lemonade.
Dark at times, humorous tale of life under the colonization of aliens. Biting humor that gives readers a new hero to cheer for.