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, will Amber and Martin go to achieve the Fluence they desire?
|Publisher:||Silverwood Books Ltd|
|Product dimensions:||5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.74(d)|
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Social media. We are becoming a society that must check their “pages” on a regular basis. Who posted what? Did they see our posts? Did they react? Should we react to others’ posts? Had a good hair day? Post it and wait for the reactions. Have a bad break-up? Post your dirty laundry and wait for the reactions. BUT, be careful, because even employers are looking at your posts… Welcome to a future that really doesn’t seem too farfetched. FLUENCE by Stephen Oram tells the stories of two people, each fighting for the coveted ratings on social media that could make or break their careers, finances and of course social standing in a society who plays Peeping Tom to your every post. The problem? These unknown faces are also your judge and jury and your fate lay in their unseen hands. Probably shouldn’t upset anyone or bore them, either. Dystopian? You bet. Terrifying? Uh-huh. Possible? Definitely. Probable? ??????? Follow Amber, upwardly ambitious, a young go-getter who will stop at nothing to feather her nest. Meet Martin, a man burned out by life and trying to fit in in a world he really has no stomach for. Seems Martin’s heart and conscience are holding him back. Edgy and tense, Stephen Oram’s world is as dark as it is fascinating as he makes no apologies for the characters and world he has created!
I struggled with giving this book a solid 4 stars. If I could, I would go 3.5. A rather dystopian take on London in the future, Fluence introduces us to a society determined by your social media status. Pay Day is coming, and this once a year event uses an algorithm to determine your strata for the coming year. Will you move up? Or will you move down? Amber is currently a Green. She’s married to Terence, also a Green, but unlike Amber, Terence is perfectly happy to be a Green. He lacks the ambition and drive that Amber has for climbing the Strata to Orange. They live in an Orange home provided by Amber’s previous beau. Amber only has visions of going up, even though she does truly love Terence. Martin is also a green. He has a family, wife Jenny, son Max, daughter Becka. They live in a Green community in the country. Unlike Amber, Martin is barely clinging to Green and fears that dropping to Blue will be the end of his life as he knows it. Jenny persistently pushes Martin to perform better, while their son Max has a hidden life that is helping him to get where he needs to be once he turns 21 and becomes one of the Strata seekers. Amber and Martin work together for the Bureaucracy. In their department, they determine if people should be White, or those supported by the State. Amber does her job with little compassion or care, only making points to reach the next Strata. Martin has a heart and is bothered by every decision made that adversely affects the people he meets. As the story continues, we watch as these people interact in this dystopian society. Every moment of their lives not only displayed on social media, but also tracked by the Bureaucracy. One of the things that makes this story appealing is the reality that our society is not far behind this dystopia. Our current society is fixated on social media and status just as this dystopian London is. I think that the similarities are both haunting and interesting. Oram writes a tale that is thought provoking and entertaining. I wrestled with liking the characters and then despising how manipulative and dishonest they could be due to the circumstances of their lives. Choices they make affects everyone around them. Bumbling Martin can’t seem to make any of the right choices, while Amber makes unsavory choices to try to get ahead. I loved the way that Oram described in full detail some of the places that Amber went for entertainment, the debauchery of the higher strata. His attention to detail really brought the story to life. You can almost smell the beer in Martin’s local pub in the country, hear the accents of those he converses with. The story is rich in detail, which is important in bringing this fictional place to life. This could also be looked at as a cautionary tale. Could this be where our own society is headed?
[NOTE: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.] This was quite a gripping, intriguing and also worrying dystopian story. Set in a not so future London, where the government has failed and corporations have taken over, it deals with a lot of themes that seem potentially “silly” at first, yet quickly make you wonder more and more about whether this is possible or not… whether we might be close to that already, or not. Society in “Fluence” is divided into stratae: at the top, the Reds, kind of a nobility that takes care of its own; at the bottom, the violets, and even lower the whites (people who’ve opted out of the system for various reasons: disability, being overstressed because of the system, and so on). Both main characters, Amber and Martin, work for a branch meant to deal with requests by various people to become “white”, and the approach taken here is rather chilling, casting a crude light on various questions—money and budget cuts remain, unsurprisingly, weighing factors. Originally a Violet, Amber managed to climb her way to Yellow a first time, but had to drop back to Green after her first (Orange) husband died. Obsessed by the idea of going back to yellow status, she spends her day acting a role, going out to parties and events she chooses depending on how many “points” they’ll earn her, and updating her personal feed so that people will vote for her—basically Facebook-like social networking pushed to the extreme, and let’s be honest: isn’t that a bit the case already for us today? Couldn’t we easily veer towards a similar system at some point? Meanwhile, Martin is her polar opposite: older, tired of struggling to keep his place at Green level, but feeling forced to it because he wants his family to be happy. His own issues include his growing difficulty to perform well in his job, understanding the points/Fluence game, and his son, not legally adult yet, who’s living on the fringe of society and doing shady deals with shady people. While a bit rough in places, this story was highly entertaining, with more than just one twist that at some point seriously makes you start questioning what you’re reading: who’s manipulating who, who’s betraying who, who’s threatening this or that character, who’s a real friend or only acting the part to earh yet more points… All this is both somewhat grotesque (the bulimia shows, the obscene parties…) and frighteningly believable (our obsession with ranking, performing well, being under constant scrutiny…). And even though the plot could’ve been a bit tighter and better defined, in the end it didn’t matter that much to me, as I still enjoyed the various scenes and situations the characters went through. 3.5 to 4 stars.