PLOT: 4/5
WRITING: 2.5/5
CLIMAX: 2.5/5


“At first, humanity was thrilled. Finally, they could sit back and relax while the robots did all their work for them. But gradually, their glee faded as the robots became better and better, and the same humans who were so ready to sit back suddenly found themselves without a livelihood.”

Aradhana Mathews, Maintenance

Looking for short fiction on my Kindle, I stumbled upon Maintenance by Aradhana Mathews. I remember seeing the book on my Instagram feed and recalled that it was a dystopian fiction story. Always in for something different, I decided to give it a try. After all, discovering hidden gems and bringing them out to the world is one of the underrated joys of this profession of book blogging.

What to expect?

Expect a short dystopian fiction of around 70+ pages. Expect a book that takes place in a world that has been completely taken over by digitization and Artificial Intelligence.

Who can read?

The language of Maintenance is simple and the style is flowy, thus the book can be easily picked up by any category of readers including beginners.

The story as it goes

It had been a couple of centuries since AI or artificial intelligence transformed the lives of humans, and it had been exactly three hundred years ago that the Great Digitization took place. The Great Digitization made sure that all of the world’s cities were redesigned, going for uniform and functional architecture that was devoid of any cultural or architectural flavour.

Gone were the unplanned cities that looked so different from each other, and in their place emerged unified similar unadorned concrete blocks that served their utilitarian purpose.

It is in such a world where our protagonists, two brothers – Atul and Rohan work and live. Since the majority of the jobs have been completely taken over by machines, almost all of the new jobs that exist, exist in the make-believe world of Arcadia, a digital artificial world. This is where both Atul and Rohan currently work.

But while Rohan is the dependable sort, working tirelessly in an online banking system within the Arcadia, Atul likes to court danger and often participates in risk-heavy racing games that have the potential to land him and his brother in bankruptcy or even worse – render them DD (Digitally Deceased), a condition so miserable and undesirable that there is no coming back from it.

But just when Atul is on the brink of winning a high-stake race that has the potential to pull him out of trouble, the Arcadia comes crashing down.

In a world that is completely run online – from the most mundane to the most important of tasks being carried out online, what happens when everything goes off?

What happens when catastrophe strikes?

In this apocalyptic meltdown, who will win and who will lose?

My review

Maintenance starts with a bang! It gets off to a great start and there is everything that a reader needs to get hooked – a great setting, some interesting characters, the promise of things to come, an unknown world, and a sense of foreboding. This part is probably what works the best in the entire book.

The reader is quickly pulled into the world of Arcadia and AI and the initial pages give a hint of what has changed in the last 300 years. There is a new world they are getting introduced to and obviously, there is a sense of curiosity surrounding that.

This futuristic world comes with its own set of rules and regulations, societal and personal norms, and what’s normal and what’s not normal – and all of it is pretty interesting to know about.

“Some people would be supported by their families, but the taboo surrounding the Digitally Deceased – or DDs, as they were called – was so unbearable that most people were sent to small shelters created by the government to live out the rest of their useless lives. Regardless of where they stayed, they no longer had anything to do. Most turned to drugs. Almost all went mad.”

Then we get introduced to the characters and we don’t see much of a difference in the way they behave with each other. Even their names sound much more commonplace and not as if they come from a different futuristic era.

The trouble starts when things start to go wrong. The internet and Arcadia along with it, come crashing down and sooner or later all hell starts to break loose. It is this part where the author fails to engage the reader with the same enthusiasm.

The post-apocalyptic world isn’t fleshed out that well. Nor are the various characters whom the brothers meet in this dystopian world. I wish the book maintained the same level of engagement as it did in the beginning, for the promise in those initial pages was immense.

The entire sequence of the world gone crazy and the brothers trying their best to figure out things is written in haste and does not do justice to the concept of the book. The action scenes are half-baked and so are the new characters and their motives, decisions, and strategies.

In the end, Maintenance is a book that makes for a short and thought-provoking read; however, the writing doesn’t do the concept much justice.

Buy your copy of Maintenance using the link below.