Cover Image: The Candy House

The Candy House

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Member Reviews

I thought this was even better than Goon Squad. The themes of memory, tech and nostalgia are more interesting to me than Goon Squads music biz.

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I was rabid about Goon Squad so I was so excited for this one. But unfortunately it didn't grab me the same way it's sister novel did, and I found myself easily distracted and pulled away from the pages. I think if I had been in a college-level studies of fiction class (which is the setting in which I read AVFTGS) I would enjoy the discussion and be convinced that I liked it more than I did, but unfortunately my book club didn't feel the same way.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an advance copy in exchange for honest feedback.

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"The Candy House" takes you on a mesmerizing journey into a future where technology and human desires collide in a breathtaking way. Jennifer Egan's narrative style is a kaleidoscope of voices and perspectives, weaving a story that explores memory, connection, and the price of desire. It's like a 19th-century novel on a flash drive, both intellectually dazzling and emotionally moving. A must-read for those who crave a glimpse into the future of human longing.

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Anything written by Jennifer Egan is going to be great. And this book was no different!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Thank you for this copy!

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The Candy House by Jennifer Egan is the long-awaited sequel to Pulitzer Prize winner A Visit From the Goon Squad. I prepped for this book by re-reading the prequel, and having that frame of reference only added to my enjoyment of The Candy House and the world that Egan builds. With a focus on the next generation of people in Egan’s sphere, there are enough callbacks to the events of Goon Squad to make this an extension of the original book, a guide to how long-ago events continue to reverberate many years later. There is a continued undercurrent of the psychology of technological advancement, which feels both futuristic and current. Most importantly, it’s all wrapped up with great writing and heartfelt character development. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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So intriguing to return to Jennifer Egan's signature style and characters from Goon Squad in this newer book, another collection of stories linked by concept, this time electric dance. Egan is an undeniably cerebral writer, causing the reader to examine massive existential questions through her work, and The Candy House does that as Goon Squad did years ago.

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Jennifer Egan's 'The Candy House' is an intellectual masterpiece that transports readers into a world where technology, desire, and the complexities of human connection collide. From the opening pages, Egan's storytelling prowess shines as she introduces us to the staggeringly brilliant Bix Bouton, a tech demi-god seeking a new idea to reignite his restless spirit. As Bix delves into the realm of memory manipulation through the revolutionary technology called "Own Your Unconscious," Egan deftly explores the ramifications of accessing and exchanging memories. The concept is brilliantly brought to life, and offers a thought-provoking examination of the boundaries between privacy, connection, and the price one pays for indulging in desires.

Egan's prose is nothing short of mesmerizing. It is a testament to her ability to tackle complex themes with grace and elegance, while still captivating readers with a narrative that is both intellectually dazzling and emotionally resonant. Solid 5 star read for me.

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I sometimes find science fiction as a genre inaccessible, and I felt like most of this book went over my head. Perhaps if I had the context of having read A Visit from the Goon Squad I’d feel differently. Almost every chapter is written in a different style, from a different perspective, which contributed to a feeling of disjointedness I could not shake. I did not feel invested in any of the characters, which also contributed to my slow slog through this book.

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I couldn't get through this book. The first story was good but none of the other stories grabbed me. I've had Jennifer Egan on the show with prior books. Loved the Goon Squad and Manhattan was a good one, too.

Thank you, NetGalley, for the copy.

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I reread Goon Squad in preparation for this book and was glad I did because first, I had forgotten how great Goon Squad was and second, it gave context for the development of the characters in this brilliant sequel. Egan has imagined a future that is creative, plausible and a little scary where technology allows one to access and “share” with others (ala Facebook) every memory one has ever had. She tells her characters’ stories in a wonderful mélange of styles and humor. In addition to being a seriously cautionary tale, this is one compelling read.

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while well written and compelling in theory, it's a bit too complicated to be truly emotionally resonant. for me at least

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I highlighted this book on my Booktube channel. The video can be accessed here: https://youtu.be/K37OlI8KPz4

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This is a serious of interconnected stories but unfortunately after putting the book down, I had trouble picking it back up and following the string. The jumps in time line and various characters left me having a difficult time connecting them all.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for letting me receive an ebook in exchange for an honest review.

I really hate DNFing arcs that I requested but I really didn’t care about the story, characters or the themes. I don’t have a lot to say other than I get what the author was trying to say but I don’t think she did a good job of saying it.

1/5

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I loved the author's previous book! LOVED it. So I was extremely thrilled to have been approved for this book.

The Candy House by Jennifer Egan was a really unique read. The book is told not only from different characters, on different timelines, but also in completely different formats. Not all the characters are connected as in a typical story but the point is that thanks to the Mandala everyone is connected in some way or another.
The overarching concept is a tech product (Mandala) is invented where people can download and share their entire consciousness & mental history.
The potential of this idea - "tens of thousands of crimes solved; child pornography all but eradicated; Alzheimer's and dementia sharply reduced by reinfusions of saved healthy consciousness; dying languages preserved and revived; a legion of missing persons found; and a global rise in empathy that accompanied a sharp decline in purist orthodoxies"
But what do we humans do with it? We get addictions, public shaming, stalkers & next-level government infringement of basic human rights.
When I stopped trying to connect all the stories and instead treated each chapter as a viewing of someone's consciousness, I enjoyed the book even more.
Nosey neighbours, female spies, drug counselling via D&D - all very entertaining & endearing.
My favourite chapter was about the summer day spent by a group of teenagers before social media & tech took over - riding bikes, staring at clouds, flirting with a crush - that chapter read so true and brought so much nostalgia.
"Never trust a candy house. It was only a matter of time before someone made them pay for what they thought they were getting for free."

This contemporary fiction/sci-fi work was a fantastic read. For those wanting a highbrow, rabbit-hole read with a whole lot to say about society today and where we are heading, this one is for you. An intricate maze of many (MANY) characters that are all somehow connected and yet totally disconnected, The Candy House uniquely summarizes our world today-disconnected connectedness.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for sending a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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A candy house is just what it sounds like—a house made of candy to entice the young. They thought the candy was free, but it has a price. In Jennifer Egan’s sprawling new novel, “The Candy House,” a “sibling novel” to her Pulitzer Prize-winning “A Visit From the Goon Squad,” that metaphorical house is a piece of technology called “Own Your Own Subconscious.” “By uploading all or part of your externalized memory to an online ‘collective’ you gained proportionate access to the anonymous thoughts and memories of everyone in the world, living or dead, who had done the same.” In this post-privacy world, only a few maintain their right not to share every thought and experience they ever had. This new technology is, in effect, the opposite of what we have in today’s social media, where users (us!) try to put the most glamorous version of our lives online for public consumption.

Reading “A Visit From the Goon Squad” shouldn’t be a prerequisite for Egan’s latest offering, but it wouldn’t hurt. This reviewer wishes she had indulged in a quick re-read, just to keep the many characters straight. Undoubtedly, readers will have favorites that they remember from that decade-old book—for me, it was the lovable child, Lincoln, of the famous, unexpectedly emotional “power-point chapter,” and of course, La Doll, the publicist who tried to improve the image of a genocidal general. Many characters return, and, in some cases, their children. Egan continues to delight in her inventive use of narrative form. Characters might occupy whole chapters and perhaps never be seen again, however much you might like to know the rest of their story. She cleverly threads everyone together, either by blood or marriage or the long fingers of Lou’s career, or by sparking an idea or filling an empty hole of yearning. So many of her characters are searching for a place of belonging, often using the Consciousness Cube as a means to locate a distant memory where they felt truly loved. Nostalgia runs deep for this group, as it does for us all. Bennie Salazar, a music executive, goes so far to say “Tongue-in-cheek nostalgia is merely the portal, the candy house, if you will, through which we hope to lure in a new generation and bewitch them.” Bennie is happy to take advantage of the human desire to recapture the past by relaunching a band that broke up decades ago, but he also helps us pause and consider the ramifications of nostalgia. What do we lose when we lean into its warm embrace?

Authenticity has a high value in this ever-so-slightly futuristic world. “Social media was dead, everyone agreed; self-representations were inherently narcissistic or propagandic or both and grossly inauthentic.” Alfred Hollander’s method of finding authenticity is to scream in crowds (trains, elevators) for the pleasure of watching those nearby react without the carefully designed masks they usually carry. Without filters, in other words. Alfred, like a Holden Caulfield for our age, has been crusading against phonies since he was a child. “By age nine, Alfred’s intolerance of fakery had jumped the life/art barrier and entered the everyday world. He’d looked behind the curtain and seen the ways people played themselves, or—more insidiously—versions of themselves they’d cribbed from TV: Harried Mom. Sheepish Dad. Stern Teacher. Encouraging Coach.” Alfred releases one of his primal screams on a bus in Chicago (local readers will not be surprised that this action is quickly squelched by the unperturbed driver). As Egan unravels the importance of authenticity with a technology that feels all too feasible, what really stands out are the integral connections these people long to create. This fiercely intellectual book is full of heart, love and redemption. (Kelly Roark)

“The Candy House”
By Jennifer Egan
Scribner, 352 pages

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This is the dazzling second volume of the "Goon Squad" series, following Egan's brilliant "A Visit from the Goon Squad". This one stands alone but it's fun to reread it, as I did, to see the full tapestry. This one opens with Bix Boulton who has invented a way to download and share memories. Memory is a big theme here, as is history, relationships and very creative character development, many of whom appeared in the first volume. Highly recommended.

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The Candy House is a triumph. Interweaving stories in a manner that honors each individual character’s unique perspective, the writing style feels fresh and creative. The commentary of modernity, cliches, collective consciousness, and being careful what you wish for hums on every page. I particularly loved how each chapter referenced a character we’d learned about before, but didn’t give a name until after we had formed a picture of them from this new perspective—this helped challenge my preconceived notions as a reader, and gave me the sense of experiencing the world from the eyes of others (a major theme of the storyline).

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Jennifer Egan has a gift for threading together a host of characters in a meaningful and memorable way, often to tell a cautionary tale, which The Candy House certainly is. It is a must read for our decade.

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