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Landscape with Invisible Hand


Landscape with Invisible Hand

In M.T. Anderson’s new book, LANDSCAPE WITH INVISIBLE HAND, he explores a world invaded by a certain kind of aliens: vuvv. When they landed, it was not exactly a bad thing to Adam, an aspiring artist, and the rest of the Earth. What could be wrong with free advanced technology and cures for every illness imaginable? But as Adam’s parents’ jobs are replaced by vuvv and clean water, vaccines and food are becoming harder and harder to come by, Adam must get creative to help his family get by. The vuvv are obsessed with anything that is “classic” human culture, so Adam and his girlfriend, Chloe, begin to film 1950s-style dates and broadcast them to the vuvv. But as they gain more viewers and also a growing resentment for each other, Adam begins to wonder how far he will go to please the vuvv and survive in this new world.

"I loved LANDSCAPE WITH INVISIBLE HAND. It was unlike anything I have ever read and showed me many things about life, our planet and taking things for granted."

FEED by M.T. Anderson, which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2002, is one of my Top five favorite books of all time, along with FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell (of course) and the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor (of course). I have never cried harder than I did at the end of reading FEED, so when I saw a new M.T. Anderson book on the list of September review choices, I had to have it. I did not cry at all throughout LANDSCAPE WITH INVISIBLE HAND, but it definitely made me see the world in new and exciting ways.

First off, I absolutely love how this book was organized. It was told in a nonlinear fashion and through flashbacks, which sometimes got me a little confused, but I love how it always managed to come together and make sense. This book is technically dystopian, but not in the way of DIVERGENT or THE HUNGER GAMES: same-world-but-with-corrupt-leaders-and-kickbutt-female-lead-who-will-save-all-of-humanity. No, this book was definitely not that; the difference being that this could actually happen: the high-tech alien invasion, termination of jobs for humans, skyrocket prices because of different currencies and lack of clean water and food. If you think about the universe and how massive it really is, it is almost impossible that there is not more intelligent life out there, so an alien invasion, peaceful or not, is a definite possibility in the future. I enjoyed how I would read a section that seemed so out there and then sit back and realize that it could actually happen. The line between ridiculous and probable was very thin, and I loved that.

Another thing I loved about this book is that even though it had a relatively grim plot, the characters never stopped trying. Adam’s mom continually looked for a job. Adam and his sister never stopped trying to make extra money for the family. They even had another family move in with them to help with housing costs. I believe this shows the resilience of the human race and how, even at the end of the world, there can still be opportunities and hope. This was especially shown at the end of the novel, but no spoilers.

I did enjoy the characters of LANDSCAPE WITH INVISIBLE HAND, but I believe the most important character was the newly invaded Earth and how it was affecting its inhabitants. The setting coupled with Adam’s landscape paintings clearly illustrated the world they were now living in and helped each character to see what they needed to do to survive. I must say, though: I thoroughly, thoroughly disliked Chloe. She was rude, petty, and immature, some traits that I would have hoped would disappear when faced with the possible end of the world. Some people will just never change, I guess.

Overall, I loved LANDSCAPE WITH INVISIBLE HAND. It was unlike anything I have ever read and showed me many things about life, our planet and taking things for granted. Everything we have, everything we have worked so hard for could disappear or become meaningless tomorrow, so we always have to make today count. As long as you have your family, art and some hope, everything will always be alright.

Reviewed by Bryn D., Teen Board Member on October 17, 2017

Landscape with Invisible Hand
by M. T. Anderson