Author: Helen Phillips
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Summary: The world building was beautiful, but the plot would have held up better as a short story.
‘In a windowless building in a remote part of town, the newly employed Josephine inputs an endless string of numbers into something known only as “The Database.” After a long period of joblessness, she’s not inclined to question her fortune, but as the days inch by and the files stack up, Josephine feels increasingly anxious in her surroundings. The office’s scarred pinkish walls take on a living quality. The drone of keyboards echoes eerily down the long halls. When one evening her husband Joseph disappears and then returns, offering no explanation as to his whereabouts, her creeping unease shifts decidedly to dread.’ (Source)
I hate to be a downer, but the short answer to the question of whether this lived up to the hype is no, not for me. I read lots of rave reviews and was tantalized by the comparison to Murakami, but ended up falling out of love with this book halfway through. The author does create a world that reminded me of 1Q84. It’s almost the real world, but slantwise. Just a little off. Just close enough to believable to draw me into its surreal beauty. The writing was enjoyably unique.
After the delightful set up, the book dragged for me. It took Josephine a long time to figure out the purpose of her job even after it became obvious to me. A lot of the weirdness never connected to the story. The word play wasn’t always clever or meaningful enough to seem more than a distraction. At the very end, there was a fun, clever explanation for everything, but it wasn’t enough to justify the build up. Even though this novel was less than 200 pages, I thought it was too long. It would have made a wonderful short story, but the filler in the middle dragged it down.