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By Nikesh Shukla
The Friday Project / HarperCollins
Reviewed by Jason Pettus
I have to admit, at first I was not a big believer in all the hype that came with Nikesh Shukla's third novel, Meatspace; for while it starts out as a funny little character-based comedy about young artists in London, it certainly doesn't seem like "the greatest book on loneliness since The Catcher in the Rye," as Gary Shteyngart breathlessly exclaims on the front cover, and it also doesn't seem to "capture a cultural moment like Generation X" like the Guardian proclaimed. But the farther you get into this witty, cleverly constructed book, the better it gets and the more it starts earning these accolades (hint -- things really start picking up once publicly exposed penises get involved); and what seems at first to be just an endless amount of trendy references to Facebook and iPhones really does start adding up to a bigger statement on society as the storyline expands in scope and stakes. A heftier novel than it might seem at first, with an ending that's surprisingly much sadder than the rest of this sometimes laugh-out-loud book would make you guess, it's one of those extremely rare books that actually gets better as it continues, and it's worth sticking in there through the admittedly only so-so beginning in order to get to the good stuff. Recommended for all, but especially to my fellow middle-agers who want a better sense of what daily life for twentysomething Millennials are like right now, where half your social life is lived on your phone and the opportunities for public embarrassment never end.
Out of 10: 9.2