The Candy House

Jennifer Eagan 2022

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Maybe it’s the format. It could be that a print version might have been more comprehensible.

The premise sounded so intriguing: the ability to upload one’s consciousness to a collective online platform, making it available to others.

The first chapter, which was the most coherent in the book, held out promise that we might be following a main character. Most of the remaining chapters were tolerable as other characters, either present in or loosely tied to the small cast introduced in Chapter 1, were explored in more depth. I listened and waited for the author to show me how each character/story/subplot fit into the larger puzzle.

The later chapters, though – one, an interminable 2nd-person narrative of how to be a spy, and another a long string of epistolary droning, were just noise. I was baffled, but also so close to the end that I figured I would keep going.

If this had been presented as a short story collection rather than a novel I might have had different expectations and been more comfortable with a lack of cohesiveness; I would have discounted at least two of the short stories as not worth my time, and moved on. I might not have been quite as disappointed and irritated at myself for wasting my time.

I didn’t realize until after I had finished the book and this is the 2nd book in the Goon Squad world. Maybe if I’d read the first book (which I won’t be doing anytime soon) I might have appreciated this installment more. I might not feel that I somehow missed the point and lost the story.

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