Wednesday, December 26, 2012

a visit from the goon squad

I wasn't sure about this book going in (I knew there was a chapter written entirely in PowerPoint, clearly a cause for concern), but it really grew on me. The plot is loosely carried along by 13 different characters who are all connected to the music industry and each other. The two main characters (I think?) are Bennie, a successful music producer, and Sasha, his assistant. The writing is fantastic and despite the numerous changes in POV and plot, it was always intriguing and easy to follow. Every character had an interesting story and yet all the stories also meshed together into a wonderful whole. 

My only critique is more of a personal preference. I like novels to have a plot line that includes some sort of rise and fall in the action. Because this was more like 13 short (but very connected) stories, there wasn't anything carrying the story along. The last story tried to give the novel a clear, concise ending that joined everything together, but it felt TOO clear and concise. Like the author had suddenly realized that she needed to string the characters, stories, and plot lines into something more conclusive.

The overall mood does connect the stories, but that wasn't enough for me. Most of the stories include someone acting badly (doing drugs, having affairs, stealing, etc.), time, regret, youth, and success/failure. My favorite chapters were #1 (Sasha), #3 (Rhea), #4 (Rolph, Charlene, Lou), #12 (Alison), and #13 (Alex). I also really enjoyed when the story veered into the future, with ideas about how people will someday interact with phones, music, advertising, etc. 

TITLE: A Visit from the Goon Squad
AUTHOR: Jennifer Egan
PUBLICATION DATE: 8 March 2010
DATE FINISHED: 23 December 2012
VERDICT: 4/5 stars. Very impressive and entertaining. Even the PowerPoint chapter works.

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