Friday, March 21, 2014

A Clever Plot, But a Forced Implementation

Ana works for her father at the Dictionary. Just before the release of the third edition, his most significant work, he disappears. Ana is distraught. She has just broken up with her lover Max, and now her father is missing. Alone and frightened, she turns to Bart, a friend and co-worker. Bart is entranced by Ana. He can barely believe his good fortune. His friend Max is out of the picture, and Ana has turned to him.

The story is set in a future where people have become so dependent of their Memes, a device that sounds like a smart phone, that they use it to look up the words they can't remember. As the story progresses people increasingly forget words and start talking nonsense. Word Flu is gaining epidemic proportions. Communication is failing and civilization is rapidly disintegrating.

The plot is clever focusing on people's increasing dependence on personal machines to think for them. However, the story moves slowly. The book is written as personal journals kept by the principals, but as with many personal journals, the writers ramble. It becomes boring. The first chapters are particularly bad, and it isn't helped by Bart's tendency to throw in references to Hegel. About halfway through, the pace picks up, but by then you may have stopped reading.

I found the main characters unlikable. Ana is incredibly self-absorbed. I wanted to shake her and say get over it. Bart is more fun, but his tendency to be pretentious in his journal entries was off-putting.

The novel is set in a era of very advanced technology, at least as far as personal devices are concerned, but the rest of the setting is rather common place. I would have expected more advanced technology in other aspects of the world.

I can't recommend the book unless you particularly enjoy urban speculative fiction. As I noted in the beginning,
I liked the idea, but felt the implementation didn't do it justice.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.