Fluence by Stephen Oram
Updated: Mar 21, 2019
Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Science fiction, dystopian, near-future
Publisher: SilverWood Books
Pub Date: June 26, 2015
Summary (as found on Goodreads):
Imagine a world where your influence on social media determines your job, your home and your friends. A world without politicians, where the corporations run the country. Set in a dystopian London, Fluence is a story of aspiration and desperation and of power seen and unseen. Amber is young and 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. It's the week before the annual Pay Day when strata positions are decided by the algorithms. 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. To what extremes, and at what cost to their families, should Amber and Martin go to achieve the Fluence they desire?
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This was an interesting book, there were parts that dragged a little but once I was about 60% in I found myself unable to put the book down. I became so invested in the characters and their lives that I didn’t want to stop reading, just so that I could know what would happen to them on Pay Day. Tie that in with a near-future dystopia that just a little too plausible and I was hooked.
It’s a book that examines human motivation and looks at a world in which social media influence determines societal position. And holy does it hit close to home on that mark because I’ll be the first to admit that I’m constantly checking my accounts to see how my hits/likes I’ve gotten on my posts (I’m mean, I’m not addicted to social media, you are!). Anyway, this character-driven book, propelled forward by a cornucopia of morally grey characters with a tangled web of motivation, was an interesting foray into the ways in which people will try to survive when things are amiss. Whether by playing by the system, or choosing to opt out, it forces the question of how a person might act when social media rules the world.
While there were a few parts that dragged a little and could have been cut, they were sandwiched by tantalizing scenes that hinted at the eventual conclusion and greater picture. These little hints kept me reading and wanting to know what was going on. I would have liked to see more about this world and have it examined more in depth, but the way it was presented did work well with the character-driven nature of the plot, especially given how little the characters themselves knew about the world. My one complaint is that I enjoyed Max as a character, and while we do get to experience the story a little from his point of view, I would have liked to see more of him.
This is one book where I finished and went, I hope there’s a sequel because I think it’s been set up just perfectly for that (and I would 110% read the sequel).
I recommend this book to anyone who likes near-future dystopian books, enjoys character-driven science fiction, and wants to side-eye their social media for a while.
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