BOOK CLUB: Self/Less

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[Total: 6 Average: 4.2]

“Self/Less” by AVIVA is an interesting novel well suited to the young adult audience it’s aimed at. Although not particularly original, it’s entertaining and well told.

Teddy is 17, and a privileged citizen of Metropolis. A walled city that protects its’ inhabitants from the deadlands outside, Metropolis is ruled by a repressive regime that rigidly controls all aspects of citizen’s lives. Teddy’s father works closely with the Mayor, and her mother is editor of the only news magazine in town.

Despite her privileges, Teddy is unsettled. Perhaps it’s just that she’s about to be assigned her lifetime job and her life partner. But then again, she’s never quite toed the line, wearing clothes that aren’t approved, defying the rules to make art, and trying to find a small piece of privacy.


Then Teddy makes a number of upsetting discoveries in quick succession. People “infected” with bad ideas who are taken away to be “sanitised” are never seen again. There’s a whole city living under Metropolis, made up of assorted outcasts or escapees. There are sympathisers who support them. And her parents are not the people she thought they were.

When you read this novel you may hear echoes of many others, from “1984” to “The Hunger Games”. AVIVA is interested in telling Teddy’s story in particular, and it will absorb many readers, but there’s not a lot of originality here. But a well-told story can be successful in re-using ideas, themes, and tropes seen before.

This is a young adult novel, and is a stronger novel for people who are newer to the themes. Teddy is a strong character who many readers will empathise with, and her adventures are interesting.

They’re also very relevant to the age group; articulating your values, separating yourself from your parents, first romance, taking responsibility. Many young people are grappling with similar issues.

Although it’s not labelled as such, “Self/Less” is actually the first in a series. This ends on a cliffhanger; not much is resolved. Although I don’t mind this, I prefer to know it from the cover or title page. Discovering it on the last page makes the story feel a little unbalanced.

I enjoyed this novel, despite it feeling like a story I’d read many times before. The world-building could be stronger, but characters are strongly defined and the pace is well judged.

This is a readable adventure well-aimed at young adults. More experienced readers won’t find it overly memorable but will enjoy the reading experience. It’s a strong debut that will have many waiting for the sequel.

Author: AVIVA
ISBN: 978-1-76098-489-2
Copy courtesy of Pan Macmillan (2021)

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Self/less by AVIVA. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

14 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Self/Less

  1. Hunger Games eat your heart out. This book was an easy read but still held my attention. Very evolved characters and twists and turns keep you reading!

    I absolutely can’t wait for the sequel to see how Teddy evolves in her leadership and Im really hoping Jamie and teddy make it through together!

  2. Thanks Beauty and Lace bookclub and Pan Macmillan for the chance to review this book.

    I love this type of futuristic take on life. After nuclear war devastates the world, there is a new world, Metropolis. Within the confines of this restricted area are people that have been brainwashed to think a certain way, “to keep them safe”. Where there are rules, there will always be rebels, enter Teddy. A teenage girl trying to make sense of her world. With some investigation she finds a whole new truth. Being the first book, I cant wait to see what the next one will bring.
    Interesting and easy to read.

  3. Dystopian books do well in the YA genre, and this one should too, especially for music fans of Aviva. It does have a touch of Hunger Games, especially in the casual violence. 1984 also gets a look in, with the brainwashing, history changes and the Big Brother ‘we’re watching you because we care’ scenarios. Still, it was a different dystopian take – so very intriguing. The first part of the book introduces seventeen year old Teddy, who lives in the walled city of Metropolis. She loves to draw, secretly, because all forms of self-expression are forbidden. So the hint that huge changes are going to happen is right there… And of course it does, when she discovers there’s a huge city below Metropolis, all fighting to end their oppression – and looking for a leader. Such a thrilling ride! The book ends on a cliffhanger, so roll on the next instalment. Thanks to Beauty & Lace and Pan Macmillan Australia for the review copy.

  4. What an interesting concept! The first chapter I thought I was in for a teenager book/ story but the more I got into it, I was hooked and wanted to know what would happen to the main character, Teddy. The story evolved as it went along and I thought the author grew as a story teller as well.

    Kit seemed a bit off the charts, not knowing which way she was going to act, Jamie was a stable character and balanced out the trio and I am keen to read the follow up novel/s. Teddy did seem a bit vague to me especially as she is to be the leader but her character grew strength too.

    So well done the artist and storyteller.

  5. Teddy, whose father has a role in the mayor’s office and whose mother is the editor of the metropolis magazine lives in a highly regulated futuristic, walled city.
    It has guards, there are no freedoms and people are ‘sanitized’ and live in fear of being reported. Everything is monitored and no-one is to be trusted.
    Teddy is 17 and is graduating. The graduation ceremony preceding their partnership where their life partner is chosen for them.
    Teddy meets Kit and learns of the underground through her, a city with its own rules and leadership.
    This is a ScFi book, well written and exciting well suited to young adults. I’m sure there will be a sequel as it lends itself to further episodes.

    Thankyou Beautyandlace and Pan macmillan for the opportunity to review Self/less by Avia.

  6. Thank you @beautyandlacemag and @macmillanaus for the opportunity to read self/less by Aviva. I was only on page 6 and I already loved this book to death, despite it making me so very sad. The dystopian setting is so real and so raw, I’m fully drawn in. The timing of the release of this book is so poignant (p18) given the covid situation we find ourselves in at the moment. It is a cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and Game of Thrones, where the city is watching over everyone – there is no free will – and futures are predetermined.

    The main character is a young teenage girl called Teddy. Her Dad works for the city so she is considered to be in an upper class family in an upper class house and suburb. She accidentally meets a girl from the “Underground”, where a big portion of the population is hiding from an authoritarian regime. Surviving on scraps and donated supplies, it is a rough life, but better than death. I feel sad for the underground dwellers and how they are without stability and order. Life underground is raw and cruel and unforgiving.

    Chapter 14 revealed a significant part of the story and I felt sorry for Teddy as she was being “kept in the dark” as it were. Her life and family were not as she thought. She has to make a very important and impactful decision and I felt so nervous for her. She tried to be strong and inspirational but it was an uphill battle.

    Right to the very end the writing is filled with suspense and had my heart racing to see how it would all turn out. Great work !!!

  7. Self/Less by Aviva was an interesting read. Not my usual choice, but I certainly enjoyed the story.
    The story is about Teddy, a seventeen year old living in a walled city where every aspect of their life is controlled and decided by others. Teddy discovers there are other groups of people living underground who have escaped the city, and have forged a different life.

    The story is well written, we can feel Teddy’s confusion, and fear, as she discovers that everything is not as she thought it was. You become very involved with Teddy and can feel for her as she makes some tough decisions.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Pan Macmillan for the opportunity to read and review this book

  8. Self/Less by AVIVA is her debut YA novel in a dystopian trilogy.

    Teddy Veodrum, 17 lives encased in the walls of Metropolis, citizens are controlled by the city council, their motto being “We watch because we care”

    Within their confinement all are denied a variety of freedoms under authority. There is no dancing, music, painting, theatre, cinema, sexual feelings, thoughts, attractions and behaviours towards other people. if a person is found to be infected they are sent away to be sanitised.

    Every move they make they are being watched, cameras are installed on every corner and with guards on patrol. The citizens have been living like this for 70 years.
    With Teddy’s coming of age and reaching adulthood there are steps she must take to lead a productive life contributing to the great city, she has been given a job placement and will soon be matched with her partner. Wanting more Teddy escapes after curfew and follows a stranger in the middle of the night, when discovered she is captured and is held prisoner in an old bomb shelter that lies beneath the City. She soon discovers there is a world beneath Metropolis and her journey has just begun.

    Teddy is an incredibly deep and well-developed character. You want only the best for her and her freedom. I enjoyed the parallels between the transformation of her character, to me she was a young girl going into adulthood wanting more than confinement and I applauded her determination to want more. Life’s path isn’t smooth and situations and conditions, which may seem hopeless and overwhelming, can be overcome with courage and she had plenty of that.

    There is a wide range of supporting characters with different personalities and traits, some I thought were awful, terrible human beings, others I empathised with as they questioned their beliefs and views, watching them develop over the course of the book was enjoyable. The novel is filled with twists and turns, with memorable friendships formed and a touch of romance that flowed.

    For a debut novel AVIVA has done a wonderful job in creating a different world. It is a very easy read and is more than capable of being read in just a single sitting. I loved the extra cover of the book which you don’t often see these days. I think young adult and new adult fans will find Self/Less very appealing; I’m looking forward to the next two novels which AVIVA has already completed.

    Thank you, Beauty and Lace and Pan Macmillan Australia for the opportunity to read and review.

  9. Fantastic book and once I started reading it, I couldnt put it down!!!

    This book has it all, great characters (and character development), epic detailed story line and a plot to keep you turning just one more page!

    This is the story of Teddy who lives in a world of control, a world of Big Brother but there is more to this than it seems. What lies beneath Metropolis? Is a world of less, more than a world of control?

    The only frustration of this book is the cliffhanger at the end, the upside is that (hopefully) there is another book to come (in the near future?).

  10. Self/Less is in a similar vein to hunger games and 1984 and is set in a world where all forms of self expression are considered an infection and are banned. Given the times we live in, I can see this book would do well in the YA genre.

    Teddy, a 17 year old girl follows the rules of the leaders and is to be initiated in her new future but discovers the truth about the people who are being ‘sanitised’ and uncovers a hidden society struggling to survive in the sewers beneath the city. This is a turning point for Teddy. How will she fight against an oppressive society that controls all of their actions and beliefs?

    AViVA’s characters are well developed and draw you in as they grow and make choices about their life. Teddy must make some tough decisions and you feel for her as she struggles and has to determine what the truth is. Thank you Beauty & Lace and Pan Macmillan for the chance to read this novel.

  11. I very much enjoyed the concept of this book.
    Living life where you are not allowed to express yourself in any way. No drawing, writing of stories, singing or dancing. You can not even express yourself with fancy hair styles, makeup or the way you dress. Your life is controlled and if you dare to break the rules you put your life at risk.
    Being a bit of a rebel myself, I like to think that I would be one of those brave humans who decided to throw caution to the wind and look for a different way.

    This is an interesting and throught provoking read. It is to be continued in 2022 and I very much look forward to the next book in this series.

  12. I was drawn to this story as soon as I saw the cover and couldn’t wait to start reading it.
    Although the book explores already-covered terrain from other books in this genre, Aviva adds her own unique touch which results in a compelling story. The characters are very well developed with a strong and feisty heroine. The only issue I had with the book – small though it is – is that it ends on a cliffhanger and leads into the next book. I’m happy for this to happen if I know in advance that it’s not a stand alone story and is continued on but I don’t like it sprung on me at the end. This is a personal preference of mine and I know that it won’t bother other readers, it also didn’t bother me enough to lower the score I gave it. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. Thanks Beauty & Lace, Pan Macmillan and AViVA for a copy of this book, hopefully book 2 won’t be too far away!

  13. I found self/less quite an interesting read. Set in a dystopian future where self expression is forbidden the novel sees Teddy move from a future she is dreading to an underground community of expression.

    It’s quite a dark story, with much of it played out in limited or no light, adding to its sombre feel. It’s attention to detail make it easy to picture, and I could see it making its way to a cinema.

    It ends with a promise of more to come and I can see this story growing across many volumes.

    The book (and potential series) is definitely aimed at an older YA audience, but even then I think for some, the violence may be too much.

  14. Self-Less is a Dystopian YA that could easily be compared to other great series like the Hunger Games or Divergent which happen to be some of my favourite books.
    Teddy is the heroine of this book and she definitely lives in an interesting world where very few choices you make can be your own. It’s not the most original of stories but I still really enjoyed how it all played out. This is the first in a series so I look forward to reading what happens next.

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