The year is 2084, and that famous Margaret Thatcher quote has become a reality: There really is no such thing as society. No one speaks to anyone else. No one looks at anyone else. People don’t collaborate, they only compete.
I hate to admit it, but this has had tragic consequences. Unable to satisfy their social urges, the population has fallen into a pit of depression and anxiety. Suicide has become the norm.
It all sounds rather morbid, does it not? But please don’t despair, there is hope, and it comes in the form of our hero: Renee Ann Blanca. Wishing to fill the society-shaped hole in her life, our Renee does the unthinkable: She goes in search of human company! It’s a radical act and an enormous challenge. But that, I suppose, is why her tale’s worth recounting. It’s as gripping as it is touching, and I think you’re going to love it…
Your trusty narrator,
Plot: The author has built an incredibly rich and well-developed dystopian world, but not a well structured and compelling plot to match. The classic twist toward the end fails to present any kind of believable turning point, and not enough foreshadowing is laid down to justify it.
Prose: A fully-formed language and culture, with consistent rules and idiosyncrasies, leaps off the page whenever the reader is following Renee's adventures. Unfortunately frequent fourth-wall breaks—with the narrator addressing the reader directly—are jarring.
Originality: While it does occasionally feel as though the reader is being scolded, the world-building is top notch. The author skillfully presents an immersive dystopia woven from the threads of current pursuits and politics.
Character Development: It's very hard to write a sympathetic character in a world where no sympathy exists, but Renee's evolution and eventual exit from Individutopia are believable, and her slow discovery of her humanity is riveting.
Date Submitted: July 12, 2018
“Dystopian novels, whilst set in the future, are designed to reflect the present… That’s why Joss Sheldon’s new novel, Individutopia, is so relevant. Unlike the great works that came before it, it doesn’t contain a big state or dictator. It’s set in a neoliberal dystopia; a world in which there is no such thing as society, no-one talks or looks at anyone else, and everyone competes to be the best. Everyone has become their own dictator… Individutopia is one of those books you’ll want to read again and again. You’ll take something new from it each time you do, scratch your head, and say “Oh… Yeah… Oh yeah!””
“It’s fiction. But it’s believable and it feels like a glimpse into the future… (Renee’s) hopes, dreams and fears were easily identifiable… An epiphany in a book!”
“What follows is an exhilarating ride, as the story ratchets through the gears. Just when it seems one thing will happen, something unexpected changes the course of the narrative. There are more twists and turns than in a piece of fusilli, but it all comes together, and makes sense, right up until the very last, tear-jerking line of the book… A must-read for fans of the genre.”
"Sheldon's gloriously colourful writing makes leaping from our world to Individutopia's wholly believable... (It's) like the book is speaking to you, and you alone... The roller coaster ride it creates is stomach churning. Suffice to say, Sheldon has once again created a fictional masterpiece grounded in an unnerving reality. Engaging, thought-provoking, and morally arousing, Individutopia serves as a stark warning about where we'll end up if we don't change... One of the most important books of 2018."
“Time will tell if Sheldon’s prophesies come to pass. The novel will do well to predict the future as well as novels such as 1984. But one thing is for certain, even now. This rebellious author has spun an exciting tale, filled with twists and turns that will make you want to finish this book in a single sitting. The plot is as well-formed, short and snappy, as any of the great works which have come before it. It really is a modern classic in the making.”
“Joss Sheldon’s outstanding dystopian novel “Individutopia” makes the reader think twice about the 21st century cult to individualism and shows what it would be to live in I-person world… The main hero - Renee Ann Blanca, reveals the author’s skill at masterful characterization. Renee and the transformation she goes through in the novel are a source of hope that mankind will not be lost forever in a vortex of insignificant tasks.”