Very Recent History – An entirely Factual account of a year in a Large City by Choire Sicha (Not a children’s book review)

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Hey everyone. This book is not my traditional children book review. This is a review on a book that is geared towards an adult audience. There are spoilers. Enjoy!

The book is constructed in a way that it reads as a fiction book, but it is meant to be a factual account of what was going on in the year 2009. The author tells us about everything from the future, I think it was 127 years ahead of this year. The author gives us descriptions of what we already know, such as what credit cards are, how the job market is, etc.; basically things that will probably soon become obsolete in the future.

When reading the synopsis on the back of the book, I expected the book to follow the five guys around and give us a description of their lives and what was going on in the year. It wasn’t exactly that simple. The book is separated in to two parts. In the first part we are given a lot of historical facts about everything, with a story about the main character “John” weaved throughout. John is the basis of the factual accounts we receive as the reader. In the second part, the book is more events and commentary, and mostly talk about drugs, sex, and politics as promised. The part that was deceiving, was that the five guys are gay. I’m all for equal rights, but if someone were to pick up this book they would probably be expecting something different. The author needs to specify that the five guys he is using to get through events are gay. There is no explicit descriptions of any sexual acts, however there are mentions about “blow jobs” and “back door” sex. This book is in such a niche, and is poorly marketed towards the correct audience. It almost makes me feel like the author may be trying to trick people in to reading it in hopes that they will like it.

When I first started reading the book I was very intrigued by the style and for the first 70 pages I couldn’t put it down. Then came more commentary than factual information. It was interesting to see a point of view from a futuristic perspective on our current state of economic grounds. When mostly commentary took over, I couldn’t help but to switch from non-fiction to fiction reading method. I was thinking “There is no way that the author could quote all these conversations between the characters. There is probably some elaboration to these commentaries.” Also, I find the author to be a bit biased and opinionated in his assumptions about the homosexual community. Not all homosexuals are “whores” that can not be faithful to their partners as he suggested. One more thing I found poorly done by the author was it was very choppy. He jumped from one thing to the next with no real transition. Some of the commentary is quoted to a character, while some of it is not and in some cases you are clueless as to who is saying what. One final critique is that the book seemed extremely repetitive with not just factual information, but what the characters were doing. There was no real story line to the story portion.

As far as what I did like about the novel was despite all of the above stated criticism, he does an excellent job with description details about places. In the first part of the book when he goes back and forth from factual accounts to commentary, it was nice and kept me interested. There is talk about condoms in the book and although condoms are meant to prevent pregnancy, they are also used to prevent diseases, and the author gives a description of both uses, instead of just the reason a homosexual would use it. I have a strong background in marketing, and I really enjoyed the plug in and the stressing of how important social networking is. He explains cigarettes, airplanes, and outlaws. I think implying the airplanes will be obsolete in the future is a bit stretching.

Overall I rated the book as a two star. Based on my review, I’m sure you all are saying why didn’t you rate it as a one star if you have such strong negative criticism? I really enjoyed the book in the beginning. I think if the author used the same format throughout, it would have gotten a 3 to 4 star from me. The fact that the potential is there and the uniqueness of the spread, I think it deserves a 2. If the author makes the changes I suggested, I would read it again, and make a new review. 

 

xoxo, Jade

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