Friday, March 2, 2012

Super Sad True Love Story Review

Book talk: Lenny Abramov is not going to die.  He made this decision at the end of a business trip to Rome when he met the beautiful Eunice Park.  His job at Post-Human Services means that he knows all about the cutting  edge of indefinite life extension.  If he can only save up enough to make the payments, he can enter himself and Eunice into the program.  There are a few problems, though.  For one, his business trip to Rome was not exactly successful.  He didn't convince any HNWIs (High Net Worth Individuals) to sign up for indefinite life extension.  The digital otter that interviewed him as part of the "Welcome Back, Pad'ner" program for  Americans who have been abroad misheard him and thought that he said he had been hanging out with Somalians and flagged him. When he does return to his country it's only to find that anyone with a low credit ranking is in danger of deportation, the war with Venezuela has escalated, the dollar is about to collapse, and the homeless and angry masses are camping out in New York and threatening to riot.  And the last major problem with his plan?  Eunice Park doesn't seem to like him.  Still, in spite of it all Lenny is determined to prevail: "That's right, I am never going to die, caro diario.  Never, never, never, never.  And you can go to hell for doubting me."

Rocks my socks: I am a sucker for a good satire and this snarky, prescient novel certainly fits the bill.  The novel takes place in the future, but is really a commentary on today's society and what will happen if we continue on the path we're going down. In Lenny's world everyone carries an äppärät around with them that they can (and often do) use for everything from shopping to communication to rating the attractiveness of everyone in the area (and seeing your own rating.) Our everyman is Lenny who has fallen behind while on his trip in Rome and is nearing 30. His half of the account is told through old-fashioned diary entries. Eunice is younger and more immersed in the culture so her half is told through GlobalTeens messages (the Facebook of the day.) I love this epistolary style and how different both their narratives are based on the method used to write them. In this world consumerism and sexuality rule with the latest fashion trend being onionskin jeans (so named because they are see-through.) At first I thought Shteyngart was a bit pessimistic and unrealistic in many of his projections--everyone can see your most recent purchases leading Eunice to be disgusted by Lenny's recent smelly paper book purchases--and I thought the idea that anyone would give up this much privacy a bit preposterous. Then I bought a new sewing machine on Amazon and the confirmation screen provided me with links to 'share your purchase' on facebook, twitter, or e-mail. Perhaps the problem isn't that Shteyngart is too pessimistic but that I'm too old-fashioned and naive like Lenny.

Rocks in my socks: I loved both this book and Absurdistan although I liked this one a bit better. I think I would have liked it even more though if I hadn't read Absurdistan first. They main characters felt too similar to me considering their different circumstances and it bugged me a bit. I kept feeling like I had already read the book even though I hadn't. I appreciated the different perspective of Eunice but hopefully Shteyngart will change things up more in his next novel.

Every book its reader: I'd definitely save this one for adults. I'd give it to fans of speculative fiction, dystopias, and satire.

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart

Buy it or check it out today!

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