Book Reviews

Review: Infomocracy by Malka Ann Older

Infomocracy is a fast paced political thriller in a rich world, which asks us important questions about democracy and freedom.

Summary

In an attempt to make society more representative, the world has transitioned into a micro-democracy. While the same party has won the supermajority each of its elections, a tide is coming that will threaten to overhaul everything we thought we knew about the system. Ken’s job at Policy1st revolves around ideas and is his idealistic attempt to bring back a purer form of politics. For Domaine, everything about the new system has got to go. And for Mishima, a talented and dangerous Information agent, her job is to unravel the conspiracy and try to keep the world’s politics from imploding.

Review

If the synopsis doesn’t tell you, this book is pure plot. At the center is not only a vivid world of governments, and a story that takes you from Japan all the way to New York, but also a complicated political scheme that threatens the entire system of Information and politics. For Older’s debut novel, there’s a distinct cyberpunk flavor to the atmosphere, from the dark alleyways, to the Information handhelds.

The Concept Behind It

The concept of the novel is fantastic, not only from a government perspective, but also an information standpoint. On the one hand, there is a political system that demands parties campaign across the world and a complicated system of jurisdictions and promises. Yet on the other hand, we have the entire Information system itself, the more fascinating side for me. Information is freely accessible and the world has access to it, allowing a more ‘fair’ system where access is a given. At the same time, the world relies heavily on Information, in an ideological and realistic way. There are so many subtleties, dealt with on varying scales, that deal with this fragile balance between neutral information and subjective perspective.

You can give a voter information, but you can’t make them think (50).

I do not want to get into that here, because it is a lengthy discussion and you should find out all about it for yourself, so just trust me in saying that there is more at stake than the supermajority. An exciting history is revealed to us slowly and I am eager to see the potential for the sequel, Null States. While there are many character names, Older sorts it for us and by the end we are jumping from the main protagonists. This is not a deep dive into characterization, this is plot and intrigue through and through.

The Characters

Don’t let that fool you though, you still get attached to certain characters. For me, Misshima was my absolute favorite because I felt she was the most complex: unsure of who to trust, dangerously skilled, and at the heart of the conspiracy. This book seems to only get better the more you read, because the plot lines are subtly weaving together, until the end explodes in a bang.

In Conclusion,

Beneath the action lie intricate questions that deal with our hopes for change and our cynicism. We are brought to the brink, questioning democracy, our agency, and the role of Information in our lives. The story wraps you with intrigue, conspiracy, and characters all trying to find some semblance of meaning. The events of this book will have widespread ramifications that will ripple throughout the world and have future consequences.

If you are in the mood for a vivid political story that also deals with our fundamental right to help define our future, Infomocracy is for you. You can pick up Infomocracy on Amazon(US), add it to Goodreads, or visit Older’s website.

Discussion

If you could change something about your political system, what would you change?

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