A Visit from the Goon Squad

It’s hard to write a synopsis of A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan because it is unlike any other book I have ever read. The writing style is incredibly creative and unique. Egan writes each chapter from the perspective of a different character. Normally, when an author writes this way, there are a handful of characters whose voices are heard and revisited in later chapters–not so with this book. Every single chapter is a new voice. I felt like I needed a character chart to understand how each new character related to previous characters. Sometimes it took me a couple pages into the new chapter to realize who this character was and how they related to the previous characters. Now that I know who they all are and how they all relate to each other in the end, I think it would be helpful to read it again. I want to point out, though, that it’s not tied up in a nice little bow at the end where every single character is connected to every other character in a Crash-esque way.

A unique aspect of the book is that one chapter is written in Powerpoint. Don’t skim over this chapter because so much of the plot is revealed in this creative way. One chapter set in the future utilizes a lot of texting or “T-ing” language, for example, “itz soOoOo gr8 2 mt u. ur nyc ;)” Sometimes this language seems immature and overdone, but part of this texting is written by babies. Literally, a future where babies are texting. I think it’s a bit scary that this doesn’t seem unrealistic.

I really do find it difficult to explain what this book is actually about because it follows so many different characters and during so many different time periods (past in the 1970s-80s-ish, present being now, future 20xx?). It is focused on the music industry and in the past, how it was so raw and real. Now it is so digitized, perfect, and fake. And she humorously writes that in the future, the music is marketed to these texting babies and through “parrots” (people paid to spread the word on bands).

The characters are all so flawed, and I find that refreshing. So many times I find I’m reading a book where it’s simply good vs. evil. The protagonist is 100% good and the villain is 100% evil, and there’s no depth or complexity to the characters. This book shows that no person is entirely good or bad and examines the human-ness (the good, the flaws, the mistakes, the odd habits, the choices that change life directions) in every character.

Sorry this book was difficult to describe, but I definitely think it’s worth reading. Once you have, let’s discuss because I want to know what you think!  A


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