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Attachments: A Novel Paperback – March 27, 2012
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
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That this book is as enjoyable as it is kind of amazing, given the premise. The protagonist, Lincoln, is about as beta as they come, and he could easily have come across as a Creeper rather than a Keeper. He's a 28 year old computer geek who lives with his mother and doesn't get out much, except for his weekly Dungeons and Dragons game. He's still mooning over the only serious relationship he ever had, a youthful infatuation that ended nine years ago. He works the graveyard shift at a local newspaper, monitoring employees email and internet use for violations of company policy, and preparing for Y2K. (Oh, yeah, this book is set in the fall of 1999, on the cusp of the predicted apocalypse of technology which, of course, turned out to be a lot of sound and fury.)
As part of his job, Lincoln reads the email conversations of two reporters, Beth and Jennifer, whose emails get flagged a lot because of their profanity and their frequency. (Employees are not supposed to use email for personal conversations.) LIncoln is charmed (as is the reader) by the women: the way they tease and support each other, the way they life each other up in touch times, the way they are sometimes brutally honest with each other. He begins to develop feelings for one of the women, Beth, before he ever sees her. -And almost as soon as he realizes he's in love, he understands how hopeless it is, because reading her email without her knowing it is so very wrong, even if it is his job.
The fact that Lincoln understands and is troubled by the creepy stalkerish aspects of his job is what saves him from coming across as creepy and stalkerish. (Also, the reader is as charmed by Beth's and Jennifer's emails as Lincoln is, and you don't want him to cut off access by revealing himself.)
Interspersed with chapters devoted to Beth's and Jennifer's emails are chapters devoted to Lincoln. Over the course of the novel, he makes a number of small changes, not really realizing the import of each, until he ultimately overcomes the inertia that has bogged down his life since college: he eats dinner in the break room instead of alone at his desk, he reconnects with old friends, he connects with new friends, he joins a gym, he finds an apartment, he gets a haircut. Individually, each of these changes is insignificant, but by the end of the book, Lincoln has made enormous personal growth. The beauty of it, though, is that his self-improvement doesn't come at the cost of anything or anyone else. He doesn't kick his Dungeons and Dragons friends to the curb in the pursuit of a cooler crowd. He leaves his mother's house, but does so in such a way that she still feels needed and loved. Lincoln becomes a better guy, but he remains true to himself and his roots.
He and Beth doesn't actually connect until 95% of the way through the book. The wait is excruciating, but it's the anticipation of something wonderful, like Christmas morning or a long-planned vacation, and when it comes, it's almost indescribably satisfying. (And yet, Rainbow Rowell does a pretty good job describing it:)
"There are moments when you can't believe something wonderful is happening. And there are moments when your entire consciousness is filled with knowing absolutely that something wonderful is happening. Lincoln felt like he'd dunked his head into a sink full of Pop Rocks and turned on the water."
(p. 311 of 327)
As previously mentioned, Attachments is told partly though emails between two women, Jennifer and Beth. Lincoln is the third player in the book - he's the IT guy hired to read the emails caught in the company filter, and give citations to the people breaking rules. Beth and Jennifer constantly get caught up in the filter, but the more Lincoln reads their emails, the more he likes them as people and gets to the point where he won't cite them anymore.
The book alternates between the emails and Lincoln, typically his reactions to the emails and his thoughts about Beth. He starts to develop a little crush on her, even though he knows from reading her emails that she has a serious boyfriend.
I don't have a ton to say that won't give away everything about the book since not a lot happened. Lincoln gets a crush on Beth and starts trying to find her in the office so he knows what she looks like. Beth sees Lincoln, not knowing who he is, but thinks he's very attractive and proceeds to email Jennifer regularly about him, and sometimes drives behind him and follows him to see where he goes.
Basically Lincoln and Beth both have unhealthy behaviors around the other one, which I found a little creepy. I GET it, it's supposed to be cute, but I just felt very "meh" about it. I feel like after writing all of that, you'd think I didn't like the book, which wasn't the case. I did like it. It was cute, it was light, and it didn't require a lot of thinking. I enjoyed the friendship between Beth and Jennifer. Having worked in an office for the last 10 years (and counting) of my life, I get having friends like that (a best friend at work, if you will) that you chat with throughout the day, so I really loved that part of the story. I liked Lincoln as a character, but I do feel like the ending of the book felt a little thrown together. I felt like it was 300 pages of build up, and 10 pages of resolution.
Anyway, the book had a happy ending, as we all knew it would. I feel like I'd give the book 3.5 stars on Goodreads if half stars were an option. I'm having a hard time pinpointing exactly what felt missing for me, but it felt lacking. Since I can point out exactly why, I rounded up and gave it 4 stars.
I loved everything about this book - the characters, the humor, the kindness of people to each other, the way the author uses words. It was so real and so good, I didn't want it to end. Wait, there was one thing I didn't love. Most of the profanity was unnecessary, also not so common during the period in which the book is set.