Cover Image: Are You Happy Now

Are You Happy Now

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Member Reviews

As a fan of speculative fiction, I was immediately drawn to the description of this book and the comparisons to Emily St. John Mandel, Kazuo Ishiguro and Naomi Alderman. I found the premise intriguing and although the narrative is quieter than envisioned, the characters are engaging and it is a thought provoking reflection on the links between late-stage capitalism and mental malaise.

We follow Yun, a struggling musician and DJ, his best friend Andrew, a college professor, Emory a budding journalist, and Fin a trainee dancer as they meet for the first time at a wedding in New York. When Emory and Yun trade glances across the dancefloor it’s not long before sparks fly. But half-way through the wedding something strange happens. One of the guests sits down on the dancefloor, refuses to move and attacks anyone who tries to approach her. Andrew and Yun manage to drive her to the hospital where she dies two weeks later. This is their first introduction to the new and frightening pandemic which sweeps across the US and wider world. Seemingly at random and without any rational medical explanation people are sitting down and just giving up on life.  It is the first mental-health pandemic and no-one seems immune. It is against this backdrop of the possible end of humanity that Yun and Emory begin their relationship and Andrew and Fin meet and fall in love. Both couples have to attempt to go on living. But what does living really mean in the context of this new world. 

There is so much I loved about this novel. I think the premise is really strong and the book has quite an unusual tone. It’s quiet, reflective and melancholic without being nihilistic. In terms of genre I’d say it’s firmly literary rather than dystopian or sci-fi/speculative (although obviously it sits in the overlap between the two) and the focus is definitely on the characters and their internal lives rather than the plot which does tend to gently meander. If I have a couple of criticisms it’s that I found the ending far less satisfying than the beginning (although I respect that it doesn’t try to tie everything up in a neat bow) and I struggled to identify with the character of Yun or understand why the other characters cared about him. I found him mopey rather than magnetic (which is how the other characters seem to see him), but that’s possibly personal preference. But because there was so much else to enjoy I was totally swept along for the journey and I love a book which has ambitions and feels fresh. I have already recommended to friends and I can’t wait for them to read so I can discuss with them.  

Although I understand why the comparisons to Mandel, Ishiguro and Alderman have been made, I think it slightly miss-sells this book. The framework of the pandemic, is no doubt crucial in setting the tone and the way the characters react, but for me this is closer to Conversations with Friends than Station Eleven. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what Hanna Jameson writes next.

Thank you to Netgalley and PRH UK for providing me with a chance to read and review this title.
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This was a strange novel. Strange in the sense of the novel being about a dystopian, potential end of the world event and yet this was not what the book, for me, was about.

Yun, Emory, Andrew and Fin attend a friend's wedding. At the wedding, a guest sits down and is unable to get up which starts to happen all over America as well as the rest of the world. These 'sitters' die off after a few weeks and efforts are made to understand the cause of this event.

However, against the backdrop of this event, the four main characters live their lives, they fall in and out of love, work, friendships and seek an answer to the fundamental question....Am I happy now? This book could have worked as an exploration of these relationships over time without the end-of-the-world backdrop however watching them navigate their lives and happiness whilst contemplating and seeking to understand this cataclysmic event made the novel a very thorough look at what we value in life and why we are constantly searching for me.

Where this book comes alive is the main characters. They are incredibly real - honest, compelling but deeply flawed like us all. You will see yourself in one, if not more of them, as you make your way through this. They will make you laugh, frustrate you but you will never forget them.

And when you finish this book you will defintiely be left with only one question....Am I happy now?

Thanks to Netgalley and Penguin General UK - Fig Tree, Hamish Hamilton, Viking, Penguin Life, Penguin Business, Viking for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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At a New York City wedding, on a sweltering summer night, four people are trying to be happy.

Yun has everything he ever wanted, but somehow it's never enough.
Emory is finally making her mark, but feels the shame more than the success.
Andrew is trying to be honest, but has lied to himself his whole life.
Fin can't resist falling in love, but can't help wrecking it all either.

And then the world begins to end. The four of them watch as one of the wedding guests sits down and refuses to get back up. Soon it's happening across the world. Is it a choice or an illness?

Because how can anyone be happy in a world where the only choice is to feel everything - or nothing at all?


Speculative, reflective, and emotional, 'Are You Happy Now?' has a fascinating premise and seems to be trying to tackle the questions of free will, mental health, and a different kind of pandemic. I love speculative fiction, and I usually don't mind when plots are meandering and don't come to any sort of fixed conclusion. It's all part of the journey.

However, while Jameson's premise starts out strong, it fails to commit to a fixed idea. I spent a lot of the book willing it to move faster, or for something to happen, and waiting for an actual explanation for what was happening. Unlike our real pandemic, this never comes. 

That being said, I enjoyed the relationships between Andrew, Fin, and Yun, even if I wanted more depth from Emory. The middle third is definitely the strongest part of the book, and honestly, I'd reread that section independently of the rest of the novel again. 

While 'Are You Happy Now?' wasn't for me, I hope it finds its audience and I'll still check out Jameson's work in the future.
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I did not enjoy this book. There was an awful lot of bad language and it was just boring.
I had to skim through the second half just to see how it ended and that was a disappointment too.
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This was my first time reading Hanna Jameson and I’m so glad I did! Her characters and their relationships felt so real. I’m going to go back and read The Last now….
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I loved it! Characters you immediately empathise with and relate to and a really believable dystopian setting. The slow reveal of what is happening works really well and I loved the relationships in the novel too.
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I know this is an oxymoron but I really enjoyed this realistic dystopian novel. The writing style was great.
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3.5 stars

What do you do, when suddenly without cause, people sit down,become unresponsive, and never recover?
It seems you get on with your life.
These characters do at least.
The backdrop of a world in crisis never dominates the human relationships , the good and the bad parts.
I genuinely liked all of these characters,and I felt like I was living with a bit of a ticking bomb watching their daily lives.

An enjoyable read.
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