They Is Us, By Tama Janowitz

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The Independent Culture

Janowitz's dystopian vision of the end of 21st-century New Jersey isn't as expansive as Margaret Atwood's Year of the Flood, but it's concerned with similar issues: environmental disaster (no water, only a gloopy substitute), genetically modified food and animals (rabbits with feathers, pigs with human features), an explosion of the sex industry. I wonder if anyone will ever write a futuristic novel where the environmental movement has succeeded so well that we all live in some pre-lapsarian paradise, and wearing a few well-placed leaves isn't standard dress for appearing in a strip club.

Still, if Janowitz's vision is less than original, her writing style certainly isn't, and if it's all too easy to take pops at a 24-hour reality show depicting the president and his boyfriend at home, as well as the offspring of famous stars such as Zahara Jolie starring in films with a re-mastered Humphrey Bogart, it's also very funny and satirical enough for her to get away with it.

Her story of a 14-year-old fighting with her single mother and sluttish sister, and living in a suburb beside a toxic swamp, also shows that misunderstood teenagers are a species that will never be extinct.