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A world where self-expression is banned. A world where survival is everything. A girl who will be heard.

Seventeen-year-old Teddy lives in the walled-in city Metropolis. Radical laws condemn all forms of self-expression and creativity, and the lives of the people are carefully constructed and controlled by the City Council: We watch because we care.

When Teddy finds out the truth behind one of the City’s biggest lies, she slips out into the darkness of the City after curfew.

She is captured by a stranger and held prisoner in an old bomb shelter that lies beneath the City. Here, Teddy discovers that there is a world beneath Metropolis, a world where a growing web of clans are fighting to keep their humanity alive, and waiting for a leader to unite them and lead them back up into the light.


Self/Less is the first book in the much-anticipated new series by multidisciplinary local artist AViVA.

AViVA has already found international success with more than three billion global streams of her music, which explores themes of control and isolation, expressing the ‘outsider experience’ through its lyrics and the accompanying graphic art.

This new novel can be described as a literary companion to her music, with many of the same characters from her already popular music videos. The story extends AViVA’s dystopian world where self-expression and creativity are banned. The City Council, who lead this society, are reminiscent of Orwell’s ‘Ministry of Truth’ from 1984. Their slogan is ‘We Watch Because We Care’, encouraging their citizens to spy on their neighbours and even their own family to avoid the threat of ‘infection’. All ‘sick’ souls are ‘sanitised and rehomed’ so the community can stay clean.

In this world, we meet Teddy, a 17-year-old girl on the verge of finding out the lifelong plan the City Council has made about her future. But when she discovers the truth about what is really happening to the people who are being ‘sanitised’, it leads her down an unplanned and chaotic path to a very different civilisation: a group of Clans that are struggling to survive in the sewers beneath the feet of the citizens above. These two societies are destined to collide.

This is a fast-paced read which will make readers stop and think about societal structures and how we live within them.

For ages 14+.

Claire Atherfold is the manager of Readings State Library.

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