Review: Qualityland

Qualityland was originally published in German, but the English edition came out in January 2020. And I picked it up as an audiobook for my commute.

My initial impression is dammmn. It is definitely a book addressing issues of the day. Some of the references are already dated or will be within just a few years, and I don’t understand why the author seems to have a strong hatred for Jennifer Anniston romantic comedies. But the concept of personal data and online profiles is very contextual to today.

I wish there had been less foul language. If it had used four-letter words slightly less often I would be able to call for this to be read in every high school. Like EVERY high school. 1984 level.

The entire concept is that the main character, Peter Jobless, is struggling with who he is, how he fits in society, and how to feel like his own life is meaningful. The anti-capitalism message is strong, but it is also capitalism taken to an extreme end point, where the entire system breaks down under it’s own pressures.

I sometimes found the writing style a little frustrating, the book spends time describing elements that made me think “why are you talking about this???” but later in the book, it would come back and make more sense. There was a lack of visuals I also occasionally found distracting. I couldn’t see the drones, I had to elaborate based on my own notions of what a semi-AI drone might look and act like. And sometimes what I imagined didn’t work with their actions.

I’m really glad I found this book. It thoroughly entertained me and made me think A LOT about my digital identity in a very approachable way. I loved the sense of helplessness Peter struggled with and his attempts to change “his fate” as society was attempting to relegate him.

There is a secondary character (a horrible human being honestly) who is a great foil to Peter too. So believable and such a picture in how money and power don’t bring happiness. There is something to be said about self-determination being a powerful factor in human happiness. It is a book I would thoroughly recommend to pretty much anyone.