The Echo Chamber by John Boyne
BOOKS THAT CONFUSE
I have to admit, I felt very confused reading this one by John Boyne, the author of one of my all time favourite books, The Heart’s Invisible Furies.
A satirical novel centring on a family, the Cleverleys — George, a famous BBC presenter, Beverley, an author who doesn’t actually write any of her own books, Nelson, an incredibly socially awkward twenty-something who dresses in uniform to give himself confidence, Elizabeth who is completely follower-obsessed and Achilles who makes money by extorting it from older men who he meets on apps — what it does excellently is make you really consider social media usage and it’s impact on our lives.
There is no escaping the fact that this novel stems from the deep criticism Boyne himself faced as a result of his book My Brother’s Name is Jessica — this is important contextually as you’ll gain a sense of where he’s coming from, behind the scenes. And while I did find parts of this novel funny (Boyne does humour magnificently), I have to say that overall, I felt it took its criticism of what he considers woke, too far. I actually felt his anger coming through in some of the plot arcs as well as the incredibly exaggerated characters, none of whom I found particularly likeable.
Chaya and I refrain from giving negative reviews. Books are so subjective and now that I am writing my own, I understand more than ever what goes into every single element. However I wouldn’t call this a negative review necessarily — I’m just very confused! For me what this was above all was was an uncomfortable read: it just didn’t sit well with me. Though, thinking about it, maybe that was exactly what Boyne intended. And still, his brilliance as a writer shines through — he unravels his stories with such magical skill, every time.
If you’ve read it though, I would love to know what you think… please let us know in the comments below ~ S