Cover Image: The Echo Chamber

The Echo Chamber

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Member Reviews

A very enjoyable read that I would recommend, great storyline and very likeable characters in it,  it kept me intrigued until the last page x
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Brilliant  writing  by the ever talented John Boyne. It's full of satirical humour in a world where everyone is attached to their phones .Social media being the order of the day it tells the story of a rich but dysfunctional family.  John Boyne never fails to bring  something different to the table. Very highly recommended.
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I love this book. Hilarious, satirical and a page turner too. Perfect critique of our obsession with celebrity and social media. Buy this for your friends and family.
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An entertaining read from John Boyne. Very different from his previous works (e.g. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas). Boyne offers a satirical look into the negative repercussions social media can have on people and familes.
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John Boyne is the most diverse author I think I know of. He is entirely un-pigeonhole-able, unlike the Cleverley family, who can firmly be stuck in the 'get in the bin' pigeonhole.  Being able to write proper laugh out loud comedy as cutting as this is a huge skill. Things are on the nose so heavily that the nose has fallen onto the floor altogether; I liked this one a lot. Dark, funny, awful, wonderful.
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This book is just what I needed after working flat out at work.

It is so clever, funny and very, very modern. I absolutely loved it.

It made me laugh and I would recommend it to anyone who is struggling getting back into reading or is in a reading funk.  I always assumed John Boyne wrote sad, depressing stories but having read this, I’m definitely going to try and read more of his work
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This novel about the Cleverley family is not just clever, it’s hilarious.  Satirical books don’t always work for me, but this book is absolutely brilliant.  George and Beverley, and their three adult children, are each so wound up in what the public think of them that they become very unpleasant, each in their own way.  Their separate stories are wound together quite brilliantly, building to a delightful crescendo.  I didn’t know what a blue tick on Twitter was before reading this book.  It also made me consider (very briefly!) deleting my Twitter account!
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This is the funniest, cleverist(!) book I have read in a long while. John Boyne is one of my favourite writers and he can write the darkest dramas at one extreme and most satirically delicious humorous stories at the other and every novel  is thought provoking and beautifully written. This one took the micky out of our love affair and dependency on social media as played out within the ghastly Cleverley family, each with their own mad and superficial beliefs. Masterful!
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John Boyne has always shown a flair for humour, and with The Echo Chamber he goes for an all-out comedy.

Does it work? For the most part, yes. I found the book fun rather than laugh-out-loud funny, but it was certainly an entertaining read.

The story concerns the hideous Cleverley family, an entitled bunch of nitwits, and the farcical situations they fins themselves in, often as a result of social media mishap.

There's some fun commentary on the fixation many in society have with phones and likes, although at times the humour isn't terribly subtle. 

Overall, this one was a fun, easy read. Not one of Boyne's absolute best but still one of th emost enjoyable books I've read this year.
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The Echo Chamber by John Boyne is a dark statical comedy about the Cleverleys and the media, especially social media. George is a well-known chat show host, and he tweets something offensive that takes the media by storm. His wife is a popular author who gets a ghost writer to write her books for her. The three children are always stuck on a mobile phone on social media. Not really recognising what goes on in the real world. The whole family are Rich spoilt and obnoxious and like getting their own way. They are very unlikeable characters.
Thank you, Random House Transworld, for a copy of The Echo Chamber. I immediately requested this because of the author who wrote it John Boyne. I have heard such good reviews from his previous works that I didn’t even read the blurb. So, I am quite surprised what type of book this was when I started reading it. Don’t get me wrong this is not a bad book. But I was extremely disappointed. Firstly, this is not a book that I would normally read but I gave it my best shot. But unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me. This had a good storyline, but it didn’t gel with me. I didn’t like any of the characters and didn’t find this at least a tiny bit funny. I just found it quite strange and kind just a book taking the piss put of everything.3 stars from me.
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The Echo Chamber by John Boyne is a dark satirical look at social media and modern life. The strongest aspect of the book were the characters, as a bunch they were spoilt, self obsessed and completely unlikeable, yet they made for compelling reading and I found it difficult to put the book down. The tone did feel a little on the nose given the author's own experiences with social media and " cancel culture" in the recent past , and I found this heavy handedness a little grating at times, causing me to wince here and there as I read, but overall I found the book to be a humorous and entertaining read, 
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this. I absolutely loved this book and devoured it in 2 days. The characters are so outlandish and over-the-top. I loved the humour that jumps off every page and the witty writing style. The story is of a spiralling chain of events for the awful and yet somehow loveable Cleverley family, but also a commentary (albeit exaggerated!) on the social media obsession of today. It was a great read and I’d happily recommend to anyone looking for an entertaining read.
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I've never discovered an author like John Boyne whose books are so utterly diverse and unlike each other, he really is a terrific writer. Based on his own personal experiences of how things can go badly wrong on social media this is a hilarious satire with a large helping of farce which casts a bright light onto the ridiculously of it all I must confess that whilst reading this book I kept wondering whether it would ever see the light of day before it was 'cancelled' and it really really should as it's laugh out loud funny, edgy, uncomfortable. savage, perceptive and just utterly brilliant. John Boyne is an author whose books I will always read as you never quite know what you're going to get, except that they will always be very very good.
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John Boyne does not disappoint! The Echo Chamber tells a story of the Cleverleys, who are obnoxiously rich and privileged, and how social media comes colliding together.  Wickedly funny, throughly enjoyed this novel. Highly recommend
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The Echo Chamber is a very funny satire of social media and cancel culture, starring by a pretty horrific family, who are both entirely unbelievable and utterly compelling at the the same time. The barrage of twists and coincidences are entirely unconvincing but I lapped every one of them up - I realise this is a very odd way of describing a book I enjoyed, but it really shouldn’t work! Boyle has done a cracking job here with a genuinely funny take down of social media storms. It may not say anything  particularly new, but it’s a great ride
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The Echo Chamber by John Boyne tells the story of the Cleverley family and how social media impacts their lives. George is a light entertainment star on the BBC whose misjudged tweets about trans rights land him in hot water. His wife, Beverley, writes romantic fiction using a ghostwriter and is having an affair with the Ukrainian dancer she met when she took part in Strictly Come Dancing. Their eldest son, Nelson, is socially and sexually awkward, their daughter, Elizabeth, uses two social media accounts alternating between woke virtue signalling and trolling vile abuse while the youngest, Achilles, extorts money from men he meets online. 

Boyne’s writing is rarely subtle and it’s pretty clear he has something of a personal axe to grind given his experiences on social media, but it’s ultimately a good thing that he tackles the issue of cancel culture and political correctness head-on. Few other writers would be brave enough to do so. Pacy and dialogue-driven, the satire is pretty savage but usually lands well. The ending could be seen as a form of virtue signalling itself, although admittedly it is probably the only fitting conclusion given the self-destructive behaviour of all the main characters. Overall, this is a biting and memorable piece of comic fiction.
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3.5 stars. 

This is the darkly satirical story of an utterly dysfunctional family most of whom are addicted to social media. Father George Cleverley is a well known BBC chat show host, wife Beverley (yes, Beverley Cleverley!) is a novelist, eldest son Nelson is a sometime and very reluctant teacher with a penchant for uniforms, daughter Elizabeth’s greatest desire is to be a social media influencer and the youngest Achilles is onto blackmail just for a laugh -oh also the cash. George and Beverley are at a crossroad in their relationship and also with their repugnant offspring. 

The characterisation is the strongest element of the book as all are depicted with sharp and startling clarity but it’s hard to connect with characters that are so revolting although that is entirely the authors point. To describe them as narcissistic, self obsessed bigots and blinkered, blind and inattentive to each other is an understatement. They are all guilty of self deception but George in particular thinks he’s ‘Woke’ but in fact he’s in non-REM sleep as he demonstrates with breathtaking effect. Some of the satirical humour is really good with some wit and dark irony which I enjoy especially the ripple effects! However, other scenes that maybe others find funny I just think seem weird, sometimes puerile and leaves me cold as it waffles and goes into mad rambles of the kind made famous by a certain orange man and  all they do is make me cringe. Ok, I admit again that’s the point but I don’t have to like it!!! There are some devastatingly accurate and cutting comments on a social media society and the broader ‘state of the nation’ although it’s not very subtle! It’s a dark view of society but actually very sobering as the author is right that life for some is lived through an app rather than with real contact and in oblivious unawareness of what’s going on around them. 

It makes some very pertinent points about the cynicism of things that are ‘leaked’ online designed to make a ‘name for yourself’ any which way, anyhow but then it becomes a pick and mix read with parts that make my eyes roll and not in a good way. I think the author overplays his hand with the Twitter swipes as they are overblown with points hammered home with a great big unsubtle mallet. It’s repeated so often that it gets wearing and I think some swipes are personal to the author rather than in a novel. I must mention the tortoise - ‘strictly’ necessary?? Absolutely not. I do though like how important events in the family’s lives are linked to the creation of a social media platform and that is cleverl(e)y done. 

Overall, it’s a mixed bag for me, some parts are devastatingly funny, acutely observed and enjoyable while others are bizarre and odd. In all honesty, I can’t say I enjoy the book though fully recognise that I may be an outlier here and it’s well worth checking out 4 and 5 star reviews to get a balance of opinion. 

With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Random House UK, Transworld for the arc in return for an honest review.
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John Boyne is one of my favourite contemporary authors and I know I'm biased from the outset, but he has been that good to get me there. JB is very astute, with a deep understanding of plot, themes, characters and relationships, so from the beginning when you encounter awful characters - no horrible characters, and really unbelievable scenarios, I'm thinking what themes are you really exploring in this contemporary world of social media addiction, political correctness outrage, gender identification and transformation, fake news, viral and continuous media influence, and the recognisable 'woke' culture. So let's throw a wealthy and famous dysfunctional family into the mix and see what happens. What we get is a satirical story that confronts all those contemporary scenarios with very witty and humorous consequences to an array of frustrating characters. The Echo Chamber reference is likely that nonstop social media infrastructure where a comment or transgression reverberates forever.
“Social media gives legions of idiots the right to speak when they once only spoke at a bar after a glass of wine, without harming the community. Then they were quickly silenced, but now they have the same right to speak as a Nobel Prize winner. It’s the invasion of the idiots.”

The family in question are the Cleverleys, George is the father, his wife Beverley (yes Beverley Cleverley), their sons Nelson and Achilles, and their daughter Elizabeth. George is a TV personality deemed a national treasure. He is having an affair with a therapist, Angela, who is now pregnant and he's not sure how to deal with this news. George is over sixty and has that way of being politically incorrect without knowing he is or possibly he no longer knows how to hide his sexism or racism.

Beverley is a famous best-selling author who appeared on Strictly Come Dancing and is having an affair with her Ukrainian dance partner Pylyp. As an author, she hires a ghostwriter to write her books with very little guidance on the plot or characters and is preoccupied with chasing Pylyp across Europe while he has an obvious sex addiction - having sex with anything that moves, including her children.

Nelson has psychological problems with women, so he sees a therapist, and his new one is - you guessed it, Angela, who is secretly carrying his sibling. Elizabeth is my vote for the most dislikeable but she's the social media assassin, obsessed with gaining followers, posting outrageous tweets and seriously damages her father's life after critically commenting and retweeting a post he made, which has mounting consequences. Achilles is remorseless as he bribes people after his little ‘sting’ games and moves from girl to girl with abandon until he meets his mother's new ghostwriter.

As a Buddy read with Ceecee and Beata, we struggled to connect with the genuinely dislikeable characters and we almost had a game to determine who we hated most. Thanks to my buddies for joining me on this book as their discussion was priceless.

I think this book is going to divide opinion and while it has a lot of clever and witty dialogue, it seems to be so incessant that we lose the light and shade in the narrative and it becomes overdone. I commend JB for taking on these issues and he is no stranger to tackling institutional misconduct and social transgressions. I would rate this book 3.5 stars – rounding up to 4, and I would like to thank Doubleday, Random House UK and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC copy in return for an honest review.
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It's a tricky one this novel. I liked the theme, that of the hypocrisy of the new model army that have
infested social media with their movements relating to kindness and tolerance, whilst offering precious
little in return as 'pile-ons', 'no-platforming' and 'cancel culture' form much of 
their own output. Indeed even these neologisms on their own are enough to have this middle aged reader 
scratching his teeth. So I'm guessing on this occasion, this title has found its target audience. 

The tone however, is a little bombastic, overplaying the comedy hand. The book feels like an early
Ben Elton tome, where the author has a message to pile home and he's going to do it, gag by gag,page by page, until
you have it embedded into your synapses. 
The main characters,the members of the Cleverley family, are all cartoonish in their ignorance and lack of 
self awareness. Even George, who was the one I had any empathy with from the outset, had been reduced 
to a mad oaf by the second half of the story where he appeared to have morphed into a cross between Henry Davenport,
the anachronistic news anchor from 'Drop the Dead Donkey' and the 'Mad as Hell' Peter Finch character from 'Network'.

The ending as well, seems a little forced, indeed the conclusions of both Beverley and Elizabeth's stories are 
fantastical and surreal. However this is an enjoyable romp, which will appeal to an audience who find themselves 
tiring of the 21st century culture and the vehicles which drive them. 

4/5 stars. 

NB, God speed the author's twitter notifications when this book is released!
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John Boyne previously wrote a book which was perceived by some as transphobic. I can’t comment on that as I haven’t read the book (though I suspect many of the detractors haven’t either). Anyway, this led to a JK Rowling-style Twitter pile-on, which is never good, and which, it would appear, planted the seeds for The Echo Chamber, a satire on social media and cancel culture. It has a whiff of score-settling about it and probably won’t render Boyne any more popular among what he refers to as the POOTs (Permanently Outraged of Twitter) but it’s undeniably a good read.

The story follows veteran TV host and national treasure George Cleverley and his “writer” wife Beverley (yes, Beverley Cleverley - we’re not in the realms of realism here), along with their three adult-ish children, Nelson, Elizabeth and Achilles. George considers himself a thoroughly modern man, a freethinking liberal who holds “no stock with the historical bigotries of the previous generation, the societal prejudices of his own, or the belligerent intolerances of the next”.

There’s also Pylyp, a Strictly Come Dancing pro, and his tortoise, Ustym Karmaliuk; Elizabeth’s boyfriend Wilkes, so woke he can barely function; an unnamed “ghost”; among other characters.

When George tweets something well-meaning but cloth-eared about a transgender acquaintance, all hell breaks loose, as he becomes public enemy number one and any attempts at rectifying the situation only make it worse. (I’m not sure we ever learn the views of the subject of the tweet, mind you, which seems a bit of an omission.) And things will continue to get worse for George and the rest of the Cleverley family, who are all weird and/or awful in various ways (Beverley is a particular horror), in a series of misfortunes wholly of their own making. 

The satire goes a bit far at times. The plural pronoun “they” is one thing, but as far as I know, non-binary people, unlike the Queen, don’t usually refer to themselves as “we” rather than “I”. It can feel a bit mean-spirited at times and that particular character’s portrayal seems slightly cruel.

Nevertheless, a lot of it is spot on (and often very funny). A reference to “pastyfaced poshboy actors of minimal talent who’ve grown up in such a cocoon of privilege that they think, if they haven’t experienced prejudice themselves, then it doesn’t exist” felt particularly pointed in one specific direction. A character spends an hour going through someone’s Twitter account to make sure she’s not following anyone deemed objectionable, then telling everyone about it when she is. (This happens - I don’t even use Twitter much but was messaged by one person, a stranger, who helpfully informed me that she was unfollowing me because I was following JK Rowling.) And Jeremy’s not wrong in his observation that when it comes to trans issues the whole thing’s a minefield, at least where some people are concerned. 

The fact that the story, set in 2021, refers to the pandemic as something which occurred “last year” and is now over with seems, currently, to have been a bit overly hopeful. As I read an advance copy, I wonder if any changes will yet be made. 

It’s hard to know how to sum this book up. It’s a bloody good read and a lot of the satire is on point. Often over the top but I guess that’s what satire does. There’s an anger behind it around, I think, those “belligerent intolerances” whereby generally good intent matters less than accidentally ill-chosen pronouns. George Cleverley is a flawed person who certainly doesn’t do himself any favours and could do with choosing his words more carefully, but he’s not actually a bigot.

I don’t think John Boyne will win over his detractors with this book, but I doubt that’s his intention.  It may seem a little unnecessarily cruel at times but as a satire on social media and cancel culture, it works. I’m left wishing that all the people whose intent is generally good could be a little more tolerant of each other and reserve the bile for those who actually deserve it.
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