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M.T. Anderson may be remembered for FEED, a National Book Award Finalist. In his new book, he brings echoes of Ray Bradbury and George Saunders.

Anderson plants us in a future where aliens have revolutionized and forever altered the way we live. Their inability to understand humanity manifests in sometimes comical, sometimes serious ways. Because they started observing Earth in the 1950’s, they believe all human culture is 50’s culture. Art, music, and even dating have been defined by 50’s standards. While this allows for ample humor and sarcasm, other alien misconceptions have far reaching consequences. Since the aliens, the Vuuv, spawn rather than mate, they value the parent child bond and lack any romantic or “need driven” pairing. As a result, the Vuuv don’t understand the importance of human bonds like marriage and dating.

It’s in these subtle differences that Anderson begins to poke at what defines humanity. Like Saunders, Anderson seems to be concerned with what humanity and kindness are at the root. He’s interested in how humans react in these fantastical future situations. Like the humans in Saunders’ short story “Pastoralia”, Anderson’s humans are just like us, but facing incredible situations. While a short read, Anderson chooses every word with care, leaving readers to sift through the onslaught of disasters that overtake Adam, his main character.

Adam is an artist in a time of chaos, and the descriptions of his pieces throughout the book are masterful and sometimes heartbreaking. Many YA authors I speak with say that they define YA not by who its intended audience is, but by the age of their main character. If the point of view is that of a teenager, then it’s “YA." Some write for the many adults reading YA, while others write with no age audience in mind.

LANDSCAPE WITH INVISIBLE HAND doesn’t speak down to its reader. The language is at times dense, occasionally crass, and brutally honest. I could see it easily existing in the science fiction section or in the hands of a novella lover. It’s a book raising timely questions, poking fun at our history, and asking us to look at what kind of people we really want to be.

LANDSCAPE WITH INVISIBLE HAND will be discussed during our YA Book Club on January 13th at 7 pm.

Landscape with Invisible Hand Cover Image
ISBN: 9780763687892
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Candlewick - September 12th, 2017