Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bright Young Things

Book 26 of my 2014 Reading Challenge

Bright Young Things by Scarlett Thomas

Summary (via the book jacket)
Bright Young Things Wanted for Big Project.

They're in the prime of their lives but these bright young things are all burned out.  Six sparky twenty-somethings just past university and working dead-end jobs, they are bored to tears with their lives and looking for a way out.  When a mysterious job is advertised in the newspaper, they all apply.
What they least expect is to find themselves prisoners on a deserted island.  There's food in the fridge and they have a bedroom each, but there's no telephone, no television - and no way to escape.

My Opinion
I didn't realize until I started reading the foreword that this isn't a new book but a reprint of a book originally published in 1999.  What would appear to be nostalgic references to tv shows and video games from that time were real-time references when it was written, and the author mentioned that part of the fun of reading this reprint was seeing what was still relevant and recognizable.  Unfortunately for me the answer was very little.  Part of the issue may be that this book is from the UK; maybe I would've missed the references if I'd read it in 1999 as well.
No problem, the nostalgia would've been an added bonus but I don't need it, I'll just read the story because the premise is so interesting.  Unfortunately for me that didn't go so well either.  Reading each chapter as a separate piece was interesting because the author writes dialogue and backstory really well but looking at the book as a whole, I had trouble keeping the characters straight from chapter to chapter.
And the ending?  Not satisfactory.  That would've been cute if this were a short story but when I invest in 342 pages of buildup, I expect it to lead somewhere.  I don't need everything tied up with a pretty bow (in fact, I've liked books less when something inauthentic happens to wrap up the ending) but I do expect some sort of story arc.  Buildup = great, resolution = not so much.
If she wrote short stories, I would read them but I don't expect to read any more of her novels.  

Quote from the Book
Here is where I would normally write a quote from the book but for the first time ever, I have nothing.  While I liked the dialogue, there wasn't a sentence or paragraph that could be removed from its context and still give a flavor of the story.

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