My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I am not smart enough nor skilled enough in literary criticism to explain why this book merits four stars. I did feel while reading that I was in the presence of a truly superior intellect. But I’m gonna try to say something anyway.
It’s clever. I particularly liked the trope of the family discussion filled with malapropisms. And the impossibly erudite extemporaneous speech from pretty much every character that manages to flow smoothly, entertain, and instruct at the same time.
As an evangelical Christian I can’t help but be struck by the major theme that, in my opinion, overwhelms what I take to be the major theme. I gather that the “airborne toxic event” is supposed to be a metaphor for the white noise of mass-media, consumeristic babble that’s killing us all. That’s the major theme, and it’s executed artfully and humorously. But the characters don’t care where death comes from; they just fear it. So I hear something very human underneath all the satire, a fear I don’t share. A fear that so few people ever give voice to in my hearing. The book ends with no hope, no solution to the fear of death. Am I moralizing and abusing the book to say it makes me thankful that Jesus has pulled me beyond death? If so, I don’t care.