Saturday, August 27, 2022

Today's read... Moneyland by Michael Botur


Lockdownland, Book One
by Michael Botur
Next Chapter
YA Science Fiction
316 pages

It’s 2037. Humans worldwide are losing their jobs to artificial intelligence. Everyone needs money to survive, including Eden Shepherd, who agrees to spend a year inside a biodome experiment with 10 popular kids from her high school, plus Adam Turing, the most hated nerd she knows.

Eden and her friends are each paid 1,000,000 dollars cash upfront to stay inside the biodome for a year. Who wouldn’t say yes? It begins well, with a delivery of junk food, no curfew, and Eden hopes finally to lose her virginity to somebody popular.

The trouble is, inhuman scientists built the biodome over an abandoned suburb. Here there is no supermarket, no electricity, no food or drink when the snacks run out. No bank for Eden to keep her million safe from her enemies – or her friends.

There is no panic button when the group descends into anarchy and Adam’s crew of outcasts violently establish a new pecking order.

When money can’t protect her, Eden must protect herself – as well as the baby Adam put inside her.



Greed and the cruelty of human nature mixes with emotions, survival, and the fragile balance called friendship to create a gripping read.

Eden just wants to have an exciting time during her last years of high school and party with her friends...and avoid the losers. When a chance to win a million dollars each through a contest among groups at schools hits, she's on board to apply, and when the group at her school wins, she doesn't even have a chance to digest the moment before she's shipped off to the area, where she's to live for a year in order to maintain her million bucks. It should be a piece of cake, but after one load of food and water, the participants are on their own...something she didn't know. Soon, it becomes clear that this isn't going to be the vacation her and her friends dreamed about, but rather, a survival game, and everyone has their eye on increasing their own pot of cash by taking from the others. Plus, there's one more rule Eden wasn't aware of before she agreed to enter the contest; there's only one exit before the end of the year, and that is death.

Hunger Games kind of is a nod in this direction, but unlike that read, this one deals with the basic desire of greed, betrayal, and selfishness. There doesn't have to be one winner; all could win. It makes the story cut like a sharp knife at humanity and illustrates the disgusting mess of selfish desires inside. The tale is raw, hits quite a few themes, and leaves no one unscarred. Add brutal deaths..,not overly gory...with a lack of compassion, and it's not a light read. 

Eden is hard to like, especially in the beginning, and she's an unusual heroine in that she keeps many of her sharp corners until the very end. Her view of others versus herself walks as thin a line as those around her, and yet, she does gain enough insight and understanding to make her not impossible to root for. As the first book in the series, this is building up an interesting character arc, which promises to carry an unique twist throughout the series. 

Fans of gritty reads, which expose the worst side of humanity and bring tons of food for thought, will enjoy this one. The pacing is fast, keeping every flip of the page engaging and never lets up, even at the end. I did enjoy this one quite a bit and will be looking forward to grabbing up book two.

And here he is...

Michael Botur, born 1984 in Christchurch, New Zealand, is the author of six acclaimed short-story collections, four novels, page and pub poetry collection Loudmouth and the children’s book My Animal Family. He has won awards for short fiction in the US, Australia and New Zealand. Botur has published journalism in most major newspapers and magazines in New Zealand and is concentrating on screenwriting in 2022. He lives in Whangarei with his two kids, and the deal is this: Kids, you can stay up late and I’ll tell you some dark tales from my horror fiction collection, though it’ll unnerve ya. You have been warned.

Botur holds a Masters degree in Creative Writing from AUT University and a Graduate Diploma in Journalism Studies from Massey University, as well as degrees in arts and literacy. Botur makes a living from communications, content and copywriting.

Botur has been making money from creative writing since the age of 21, has published creative writing in most NZ literary journals and has won various prizes for short stories and poems since beginning writing in 2005. In 2017/18 Botur’s work was included in collections put together by University of Otago (Manifesto 101) and University of Canterbury (Bonsai: Small Fictions).

Botur has published news articles in VICE World News, the Listener, New Zealand Herald, Herald on Sunday, Sunday Star-Times, The Spinoff, Noted, Mana and North & South. In 2017 Botur launched the only online “gallery” for NZ short story writers,
In 2021, Botur was the first Kiwi winner of the Australasian Horror Writers Association Short Story Award for Test of Death.


Social Media and author’s links