From Publishers Weekly
In Coupland's real-time near-apocalyptic novel, a recovering alcoholic, a divorcée, a church-fund embezzler, a beautiful android-like woman, and a man who is distinguished by his prickly demeanor converge in an airport cocktail lounge at the precise moment when oil prices begin to rise and society begins to unravel around them. Such an intriguing premise could have lead to explorations of the nature of chaos and human resilience, but the author relies instead on cursory philosophizing, allowing his characters to ramble. The players emerge as near-caricatures who are forced to contend with each other's weaknesses and a small cast of strangers, from a sniper to a "false prophet" selling the Leslie Freemont Power Dynamics program. In one man's brusque assessment, the others are "a depressing grab bag of pop culture influences and cancelled emotions, driven by the sputtering engine of the most banal form of capitalism," words which reveal both the book's vivid style and an apt critique of modern consciousness. Though the book at times feels more like television than a richly conceived world, painting aspects of adults in crisis perhaps too broadly, it is redeemed an ending that allows some of them to survive.
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The past, present, and future blend together like paint on a canvas in Coupland’s kaleidoscopic novel, which transpires over the course of five real-time hours. At the onset of a worldwide catastrophe, four strangers, each trying to escape a dire reality, become trapped together in a Toronto airport cocktail lounge. Lonely single-mother Karen has flown in to meet an online acquaintance. Rick the bartender, a reformed alcoholic, gives his savings away to an infomercial hack in the hope of buying a better life. Luke is a minister who recently lost his faith and ran away with his church’s renovation fund. And the beautiful but automaton-like blond, Rachel, simply craves personal connection. As each restless soul unfolds his or her thoughts on God, faith, personality, and human emotion, their alternating stories increasingly reveal the mysteries of interaction and coincidence. And then there’s the elusive Player One, whose omniscient commentary seems to govern everyone’s actions. A taut and scintillating exploration of time, Coupland’s tale is both smart and suspenseful while simultaneously questioning the meaning of narration. --Jonathan Fullmer