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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Buy or Die is timely; it foretells of an inescapable future if we do not guard ourselves against crass commercialism. In this dystopian novel by Theodor Ventskevich, Buy or Die gives its take on a society swamped in shameless advertising. Just imagine that every minute of your waking hours is saturated by ads that prey on you, wherein the pervading dictum is “The happy man is not one who earns a lot, but one who spends a lot.” We meet a man who goes by a coded name of Citizen Z368AT or simply Z. The story opens showing Z on a typical start of his working day, where high-tech forms of brand promotion plague him. From his toothbrush to his mirror, his morning routine deals with evading senseless reminders for subscriptions and shutting out holographic ads that prod him into buying. It is a story that will re-examine our position on consumerism, as people fight for time, money, privacy, and principles.
Buy or Die is alarming in that it can be hard to read sometimes. The novel delves into the evils of excess. While advertising is a productive endeavor, it often manipulates us into spending on things that we do not even need, and this is dangerous. All the more dangerous if it pushes us to the point of coercion and the line that divides privacy and marketing blurs. The most horrific aspect of this story is the intrusion into privacy. Ventskevich is so committed to putting us into Citizen Z’s shoes that we experience the horror and the anguish of his daily struggles and concerns. Buy or Die is full of anger in a world gone utterly haywire from unregulated marketing. Still, it shows some light moments when Jack of Air comes onto the scene. This novel plunges you into a dystopian world that will make you want to strive for better business practices.