Monday, January 6, 2020

Review: Qualityland by Marc-Uwe Kling

Qualityland by Marc-Uwe Kling
Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: January 7th, 2020
Hardcover. 352 pages

About Qualityland:

"THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY meets 1984. In the near-future, all decision-making is automated, until one man makes a brazen choice of his own, with global consequences. 

Welcome to QualityLand, the best country on Earth. Here, a universal ranking system determines the social advantages and career opportunities of every member of society. An automated matchmaking service knows the best partners for everyone and helps with the break up when your ideal match (frequently) changes. And the foolproof algorithms of the biggest, most successful company in the world, TheShop, know what you want before you do and conveniently deliver to your doorstep before you even order it. 

In QualityCity, Peter Jobless is a machine scrapper who can't quite bring himself to destroy the imperfect machines sent his way, and has become the unwitting leader of a band of robotic misfits hidden in his home and workplace. One day, Peter receives a product from TheShop he absolutely, positively knows he does not want, and which he decides, at great personal cost, to return. The only problem: doing so means proving the perfect algorithm of TheShop wrong, calling into question the very foundations of QualityLand itself."

This is what I would consider to be a satirical dystopian novel and it absolutely excelled at being exactly that. I had the best time reading this book and laughed countless times.

Qualityland takes place in a world where tech and AI have basically became the overwhelming norm of the land and pretty much every aspect of life is ruled by technology. People are ranked according to their status and accomplishments in life, people are encouraged to use tech to help them find their 'best match.' cars are all self-driving, and everything you could ever want to buy comes from TheShop (I won't lie, it reminds me of another big online retailer...)--it even sends you things that it predicts you might need. Creepy yet?  If not, it gets better with the fact that people use a kiss to pay for things, as in you kiss your Qualitypad (aka tablet) instead of using a fingerprint or something. I don't understand why this is preferable, but nobody here asked for my opinion on it.

Peter Jobless (because your last name is the profession of your parent--if you're a woman, it's your mother's, if a man, your father's) is our protagonist who works as a machine scrapper, where he's meant to destroy old and outdated tech. However, Peter doesn't always destroy the machines and instead keeps them in the basement of his home (and workplace). What sets off Peter's journey in this book is when he received a very peculiar product from TheShop that he doesn't want and he embarks on an endlessly frustrating, anger-inducing journey to figure out how he can possible return this item that he doesn't want, but that is assured to be exactly what he needs.

This book explores what happens when someone wants to go against the grain of not only a fully tech-integrated society, but also a society in which being stable and unchallenged is the desire of everyone. Falling too low in society renders one relatively obsolete, whereas being high up puts more pressure on you to continue working harder to stay there. I loved exploring all of the different areas of this futuristic society and how everything was impacted by the same status rankings and how almost everything people did was motivated by that. It's a really reflective novel that will certainly make you think.

There's so much more to this story than just the plot line mentioned above, but for the sake of discovery I'm not going to go into all of the details. I will say, however, that there is such an incredible exploration of how strongly tech has merged into our lives in ways both positive and negative. There is an incredible portion of this book that examines the methods of politics in our modern world and it is so horrifyingly accurate and astute that I couldn't stop reading.

There's a lot I could say about this book, but I really recommend you try it out on your own. It's a bit zany and chaotic at times, but it's an incredible satire of our world that is obsessed with social media, AI, and tech-controlled components.

*I received an ARC of Qualityland courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating of the novel.*


  1. For some reason this is reminding me of The Warehouse. I think I would love it!

    1. It reminded me a lot of The Warehouse at times, you should definitely check it out!