Thanks so much to Viking books and Netgalley for the advance copy of this novel.
I love a literary fiction dystopian novel, and Are You Happy Now delivers on that. It follows four people: Yun, who has everything he ever wanted but it isn't enough; Emory, who feels shame about her success; Andrew, trying to be honest after a life of lies; Fin, who has been unlucky in love. The world begins to end as all four attend a wedding.
I loved this book and watching the story unfold. It was SO fascinating, and gave me slight Emily St John Mandel vibes. I want to pick up more from this author!
I am always drawn to books that sound like they might be about something a bit different. As soon as I read the line ‘a wedding guest sits down and refuses to get back up’ in the synopsis, I was interested to know what was going on. So, here we are.
Yun has everything but nothing ever feels like it’s enough. Emory is making a name for herself but she can’t escape the shame. Andrew can’t stop lying to himself even though he wants to. Fin keeps falling in love and destroying it. All over the world, people start to sit down and they never get back up again. No one really knows whether it’s a pandemic or a choice but the real question is whether anyone can really be happy in this world.
The uniqueness of the situation was definitely my favourite part of the book. I was completely hooked on finding out what was happening to these people and why. I’m actually really disappointed that it wasn’t exactly revealed but on reflection, I think it was probably more of a symbolic thing and commentary on the chaos of our world. They were simply sitting down and checking out of it.
Emory is a journalist reporting on the strange events and she feels awful about the success her work is having in the wake of the horrors of what is happening. It means she can’t fully enjoy her moment in the sun and I think this is something that many people can relate to. There are often factors that contribute to the good things that we do that aren’t exactly positive things themselves and it can be hard to accept that.
All of the four main characters are trying to find and questioning their happiness. It seems that none of them know what happy really is or how to find it. Yun’s ex-wife tells him that his idea of happiness is a fantasy and that he should try to lower his expectations. Again, this is probably a lesson that many people need to learn.
The book is quite philosophical but depressingly so. It’s almost questioning whether anyone at all is ever happy. Perhaps this appeals to pessimists and deep dark thinkers but the tone of it just really put me in a slump. It was whiny and I didn’t really care about any of the characters enough to listen to them for pages on end.
Much of the public speculation on the causes and nature of the situation felt very similar to how COVID was talked about. If there had been any chance of COVID being deemed a 'choice’, I have no doubt that the sick pay would have stopped and treatment would have been hard to come by. In fact, this is precisely how many mental health conditions are seen by governments and authorities.
Are You Happy Now is a strange one to review. I was very intrigued by the situation but without the definite answers, I was left disappointed. None of the characters were particularly likeable, so I wasn’t really interested in their search for happiness. It is quite a thought-provoking read and I really liked the core idea but I’m not sure it was executed terribly well.
I liked this novel, but I can't really explain why..... some of the characters annoyed me - entitled, pampered, deluded and immature, reflective of today's TikTok generation, although these characters are older. However, they were convincing.
I liked the twist on the pandemic that was spreading across the US and throughout the world - not a virus, not a disease, but more a mental health pandemic - just sitting down and literally giving up (plus fighting anyone who tries to help, followed by a very quick death). I found this very relevant and current - after the Covid pandemic and it's effect on people's mental health, and the lack of mental health facilities in general, impacting on those most in need.
It was the constant fear throughout the novel of someone just sitting down at any given moment that set me on edge..... you didn't know who, where, or when it could hit. And no one could figure out why.
I didn't mind that the story just seemed to 'fizzle' out.... there wasn't really a conclusion, but I liked that.... sometimes things just end. Not everything is wrapped up in a bow and sometimes there are no happy endings.
This is such a great book and really made me think and reflect. I had heard so much about this book but as soon as I started reading, I couldn't stop.. Beautifully written and poignant. Would highly recommend.
I have quite a few mixed emotions about this book. It instantly gripped me, but it went in so many different directions than what I was expecting/anticipating/hoping for.
I think that the author writes characters beautifully; each person was so inherently themselves and as such easily recognisable. Some characters were instantly likeable, some grew on you and unfortunately some definitely lost their sparkle over time.
I found the narrative to be quite jumpy in places; with no real distinction between past/present, but I loved the multi person perspective, as it is a really effective way to learn more about people / shared situations.
I am disappointed that we didn't get an answer as to what was causing the mass incidents. I also feel frustrated with the way the book ended. I couldn't help but feel that so many people deserved a lot more; and I would have liked an epilogue to see how Emory & Andrew reacted to the news about Yun.
I found the story really interesting, really easy to read and it was different to anything I've read before. Some of the plot points were very poignant and touching, and I think that many different forms of love were talked about and experienced within.
I can appreciate the many merits this story has and how well it was written, but because I wanted so much more for the characters within, and because I wanted more answers for myself, I've decided to give this 3 stars.
This is actually a difficult book to review.
Based on a deadly pandemic, the premise is not too difficult to believe. What is billed as a ‘mental health’ pandemic, the book focuses on the impact of the sickness on the main characters. Many of the characters are self-obsessed and completely unlikeable, which made it difficult for me to feel any emotional connection to them or the novel.
I found the book to be a slow burner with no real ‘hallelujah moment, however, it was a solid read with a difference. I am not sure how to categorise it. It’s not quite dystopian, not sci-fi, more of a contemporary fiction.
Are you happy now is perfect for fans of Sally Rooney. I finished this book in 1 day and I can't wait to see what else Hanna Jameson writes next.
"Yun and Emory fall into an intense romance, and then don't let go.
Andrew is clinging to his marriage but knows he's lying to himself.
Fin can't resist ruining things until he meets the right person."
It sounds like the same old same old twenty to thirty something drama, right? And in some ways, it is. But the backdrop to this is a worldwide event that could signal the end of everything. So, does anything really matter anymore? Or did it stop mattering already, and that's why people are just sitting down and checking out of their own existence?
Don't expect answers here. No one is trying to solve the problem or find a cure for what seems to be an epidemic of ennui. Instead, life goes on, bills still need to be paid, couples fall in love, argue, and split. Babies are born, and people die. And anyone could be the next to sit and die.
This book feels uncomfortably close to the truth. We've a whole generation who can't afford a home, rental or mortgage, have crap access to health care, and are inheriting a planet that is basically screwed. Add to that, many of them are choosing not to have families. So take away our only actual biological reason to exist, i.e., procreate (sorry, but that's the only reason for any living thing to exist) and not have anything to replace it. Is it any wonder people would just give up? Sorry, millennials and Fen Z, us Gen Xers really should have got the boomers under control. But we just couldn't be bothered!
Hanna Jameson has once again created a plot that should sound crazy but somehow is strangely plausible. What I said about The Last applies to this also. Great story, well written, but I can't call it enjoyable!
This book was written in an unusual way but it was a very gripping story. The apocalyptic nature of the illness felt a bit to close to covid for comfort but it is thought-provoking and I was gripped to the end.
I didn’t know how to feel about this book. I didn’t find the characters particularly likeable and it was a bit of a strange read!
This book is an interesting commentry on the human spirit, and the act of continuing on when everything feels hopeless.
While I found the main character, Yun, to be somewhat insufferable, the rest of the principal cast made up for this. I think part of the point of the book was that Yun wasn't the most likable person, making it more frustrating when the people around him are sucked into his quickly spiralling life. I just wish that we could've had more of the other characters, who I found to be a lot more interesting.
I thought the concept of this book was very interesting, and that it was executed quite well, despite the lack of explanation for the phenomenon occouring across the world.
I thought that the ending, while a bit of a cliffhanger that left way too many loose ends, was almost inevitable, and so gave me at least a bit of closure.
Overall this book was a pretty quick read that I really enjoyed.
I just couldn’t finish this, I had to dnf.
I was pretty interested in the beginning, curious to see how this Covid like perspective would unfold but the constant change of POVs, the excruciatingly slow pace development wise and all the characters feeling like underdeveloped assholes coundnt really keep my attention after the 50% mark…
Personally, I got half way through this story but it wasn’t for me. The plot regarding the illness I found really interesting however the other plot lines didn’t pull me in as much.
Thank you NetGalley and publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This was a weird but good book! Well written, intriguing and it kept me reading, had to finish if. Reccomend it if you can appreciate a weird one.
I don't know whether I liked this book or not, that is a strange thing to say but its honest. It had mental health triggers that I was forewarned about which was good. It highlighted a lot of issues that young people go through today. I don't really know what else to say about it.
I started this but soon found I didn’t want to continue. It just wasn’t for me. Possibly a poor choice in the end.
A different end of the world style novel that I completely devoured. Funny and touching with a great ending
This was certainly not my usual choice of book but the title alone hit me on a deep level. Like other reviews mention, it may not be the best book to read if you suffer with depression or other mental health issues but yet I knew I has to read it as I know far too well how those characters feel in just wanted to "sit down".
I can't say I enjoyed the story but I don't think anyone could enjoy this, however, I found the beginning fascinating. I did unfortunately lose interest as I was more interested in the medical side of the outbreak rather than reading Yuns self centered stroppy storyline.
It most definitely is a book for deep thinkers and it brings back those early scary months of covid being glued to TV screen seeing the world slowly collapse around us. I didn't really like the way the "illness" ended up, I would've preferred to have more info and facts around it.
This was a very odd tale. I am a fan of post-apocalyptal novels and was hoping for an interesting take on it but the story, while having a good premise, failed to ignite me. I enjoyed it but felt it was quite slow moving and I found the charatcters not very likeable or interesting. I didn't feel very invested in what was happening to them. The pandemic was also a bit lacklustre, especially how it fizzled out without much of a good explanation - although with recent events, this is true to life but just not much of a good story line. So I'd say it's worth a read but not a prize winner.
A different and enjoyable read, I enjoyed following the story for the 4 main characters, and a lot of relevant topics. Thank you for the opportunity to read this book.