Cover Image: Are You Happy Now

Are You Happy Now

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Member Reviews

I enjoyed this unusual book which is primarily a coming of age friendship novel looking at a group of young friends living in New York trying to make their way in the world . what makes this novel different is that it is set at the time of a pandemic when large groups of people are struck suddenly down by a condition that causes them to become aggressive then unresponsive and is ultimately quickly fatal 
As a Doctor I found the details of the condition not very believable there are times when it takes on an almost mystical or supernatural explanation , it didn't matter ultimately as the story telling is so good and the relationships between the young people and the cast of characters that you meet and remelt throughout the novel are so interesting and real . This element of the book was what came over most strongly to me .
Coming so soon after the Covid 19 pandemic it was hard not to draw comparisons between the pandemic in the story and what happened with covid . I found the similarities and differences interesting 
The author has a lovely flowing prose style and I found the book an easy enjoyable read .
I enjoyed the book more than the authors previous novel The Last which was published in 2019 
I read an early copy on Netgalley Uk this review is published on there and on my Goodreads account and my book blog 
The novels published in the uk by Penguin fig tree on 2 February 2023
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I so wanted to love this book - the title and the cover alone are fantastic. So my disappointment is natural when I realized I didn't like it and actually I didn't finish reading it, I put it down around 30%.
I didn't like the pacing, nor the characters, I felt like this book is more for YA audience and not adults. Though I think the concept is really good, the delivery just wasn't for me. Also, the timeline was often confusing. The very start of the book was somehow too depressing as well, which was personally a big turn-off. The 30% I've read was really messy, as if the book or story itself didn't really know what it wants to tell, or how. Concepts are hard to grab, and unfortunately I feel like this book also struggled with it.
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After all attending a wedding, life is not the same for Emory, Yun, Andrew and Fin, as they manage their relationships in an uncertain world. I really liked the pace of this book and found it a compelling read. I like the premise and I think the concept of the pandemic linked to mental health is interesting, but as I read on, I felt opportunities were missed to go further and I still had unanswered questions at the end. I’m not a massive fan of dystopian, and unfortunately, I think having had a pandemic so recently affected my ability to suspend my disbelief. In terms of the characters, I found their relationships moved at a fast pace, which I found annoying and somewhat  unbelievable. I liked the ending, although not totally unpredictable, I thought it fitted with where the story was going
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This book sounded really interesting and the story was good. The characters all felt real, each with their own faults, however following all of the narratives became quite confusing and the stories moved slowly.
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This story is so real, such a topical issue, it comes across as bizarre. I felt I was in the pages with them, this book was so magnificently written.

Post pandemic there’s a new craze sweeping the nation - people are just sitting down and refusing to get back up. Becoming aggressive when forced to move. They’ve given up and most die within two weeks. 
We follow four characters; Yun, Emory, Andrew and Fin as they navigate this new world after witnessing case zero at a wedding they all attended. They reach out to one another and connect on a very deep level, depending upon one another to keep themselves going as they ask themselves the question; is it too late to be happy?

I was immediately drawn into this novel, I felt I was in the pages with them, it was so magnificently written. The ending was sad and so, so perfect for me. 
Definitely read this if you want a take on the injustice pushed upon todays youth, to feel the anger inside of you for them.
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Are You Happy Now is a very unique book. This definitely isn't for everyone, it is difficult to read and you really need to suspend all disbelief to enjoy it. I personally struggled with it, and perhaps couldn't appreciate it for what it is.

The concept around a pandemic of mental health is different, and I liked the originality. 

The characters didn't feel like the main focus, and it was difficult to form an attachment to them. I thought they might be the next to die, and so did they.

This is a very intriguing book, which is very difficult to rate and review. I appreciate its uniqueness, and the daring of the author to attempt such a book.
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Billed as appealing to fans of Emily St John Mandel and Kazuo Ishiguro, Are You Happy Now is dystopian fiction based around a mental health pandemic. 

The story focuses on four characters, only one of whom I found interesting (Emory). Emory is an up-and-coming, ambitious journalist attempting to get to the bottom of what appears to be a psychogenic catatonia taking hold across the world and affecting mainly young people under 40.  

Unfortunately this book didn't work for me. The pacing was off, the characters were not terribly interesting or well-developed and the storyline was lacklustre and vague. This is one that may appeal to a younger readership.  

Many thanks to the author and publisher for the advance digital copy of the book.
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It all begins with a wedding - Yun, Emory, Andrew and Fin attend and witness one woman who sits down in the middle of the dance floor and refuses to get up again. It’s the first time they encounter what is soon to be a pandemic of people who become catatonic, seemingly giving up on life and die two weeks later. 

I struggled with this book. It’s such a unique and interesting concept, to centre a pandemic around mental health. I like the writing style too, which led me to carry on reading when I was tempted to DNF. However the pace is so slow and Yun is so unlikeable that reading this felt like a real slog. I am glad to have finished it but it’s not one I would recommend.
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I was offered this ARC by the publisher as I had read and enjoyed Hanna Jameson’s previous novel The Last.
This novel continues the theme of the end of the world in the form of a unknown “psychogenic catatonia” which causes its sufferers to sit down, give up and ultimately pass away.

The novel begins in a Wedding Reception and one of the guests sits down.  It goes on from there with the confusion of her friends, rumours of other people doing the same, and then a global phenomenon.  But like our recent pandemic life goes on and people become fatigued with it.  

The end of the world theme is played out between the relationships of some of the wedding guests.  Yun and Emory who meet at the wedding.  Emory is a journalist who publishes an article the Sitting Down phenomena and their relationship in the backdrop of the end of the world.  Yun’s friend Andrew who is the nice guy of the novel.  He seemed so kind and genuine that I wished we got more of him.

For me this novel started really well, and I was gripped.  Her characters are normal people, with faults and as is usual in groups you care more about some of them than others.  But there was a philosophical attempt to make sense of everything – the pandemic, the loneliness and alienation of living in a major city, and the fact that some relationships simply don’t work out.

I really wanted to love this book, but maybe its just to close a real pandemic that it was a bit close to the bone.  Or maybe my annoyance at Yun is clouding my judgement.
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High concept and clever, but much more about the lives of those affected by the strange, sudden and catastrophic ‘sitting down’ events occurring than about the cause behind the events. Personally I’d have loved much more of the dystopia woven through the book, to really bring together the novels strands, to make the lives of Yun, Emory, Andrew and Finn sparkle.
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I really didn't think I wanted to read a book about millennial malaise, about how to approach living after the pandemic, about what could happen at the end of the world. I love Hanna Jameson's previous work, but I didn't know how much I was going to love this. It's about the way we all feel at this precipitous moment, this feeling of the world caving in on us, written with beauty, understanding and bone-jangling honesty, and an ending I'll never stop thinking about. Bravo Hanna - this is real voice-of-a-generation stuff.
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This book is heartbreaking. Part of me knew it going in but I was still not prepared for how devastating this book would be to read. 

This book was so bizarre but I couldn't stop reading. The main focus of the story was a strange dystopian, pandemic. This was particularly hard to read after just coming out of a global pandemic, so in that regard it might be a bit soon for this book. However, the pandemic didn't overpower the characters stories so I still enjoyed it.
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Actually i chose this book because of the cover, and then the synopsis also sounded interesting, after I started reading Yun  character sounded a bit weird… and then I understood why, he is Korean but he doesn’t give that kind of vibes to us  (the reader), the author, in other hand, nailed the other characters because to me they felt real, even the landlady (old Italian woman). But did I enjoy this story?… not that much, I was hopping for a end of the world love story, a bit like the romance in the book of M, because in many aspects it reminded me of that book, but the romance really early in the book felt disconnected… it was there to give a starting point and then lost it’s meaning… 

It is still well written, and I still want to read other books from this author, I just think this one wasn't meant to me.

Thank you NetGalley and Penguin General UK - Fig Tree, Hamish Hamilton, Viking, Penguin Life, Penguin Business, Viking for the free ARC and this is my honest opinion.
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I have been more into dystopianesque books recently - which is no surprise with how the world is. I really enjoyed this, it was well-written with a compelling storyline and well-developed characters. 

The E-Book could be improved and more user-friendly, such as links to the chapters, no significant gaps between words some text written has been typed in red and a cover for the book would be better. It is very document-like instead of a book. A star has been deducted because of this. 

This is a first for me by the author and one I enjoyed and would read more of their work. Thank you very much to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.
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At a New York City wedding four people are just trying to be happy and live their lives. 

There is Yun who has everything he ever wanted, but it's never enough. 

Emory is finally making her mark in journalism but feels shame more than the success.

Andrew trying to be honest, but has lied to himself his whole life.

Fin can't resist falling in love, but then can't help wrecking it all either.

Yun and Emory hook up at the wedding when out of nowhere a guest sits down on the dance floor and refuses to get up. She is taken to the hospital but is unresponsive unless she is made to do something like drink water and then she kicks off big time. Suddenly reports are coming in of this catatonic behaviour happening not only in the states but across the world. 

Is this the end of the world, is it mass hysteria or some sort or virus? What will become of the 4 of them and the rest of the human race? 

This had vibes of Cell crossed with a zombie type apocalypse vibe. The first half had me gripped but then it just seemed to drag and I began to dislike Yun’s character the most out of the 4. The others were ok but in the end I just felt like I wanted the book to hurry up and finish. Such a shame as it had such a good start but you can’t like or enjoy every book you read.
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— 𝐁𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐑𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰 —

𝐓𝐢𝐭𝐥𝐞: Are You Happy Now
𝐒𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐬: N/A
𝐀𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫(𝐬): Hanna Jameson
𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐫𝐞: Sci fi/Dystopian/Contemporary/Mystery
𝐃𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐏𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐝: 2nd February 2023
𝐑𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠: 2.75/5

What a difficult book to categorize, rate, and review! Nothing feels straightforward with this read, including the plot, the character dynamics, and the characters themselves. I finished the read feeling thoroughly bewildered.

It really is one of those reads that completely bases its entertainment level on the readers interpretation of the novel. For me, this was a searing account of mental health, pointing out the prejudice and injustices of American ideologies and systems, which are also reflected across Western Europe. Perhaps I’m too conventional with enjoying traditionally formulaic novels, with story climax’s and equilibriums, or at the very least some decent character development. Unfortunately, I felt that this book didn’t offer me any of that.

To be honest, no character development in a character developed novel frustrates me no end. Especially when one of the characters were so detestable I really wish he’d been struck down by this mysterious illness 😅. Yun was so self centered, it was constant and it ruined his dynamics between him and everyone, but especially him and Emory. I was really disappointed with this because the beginning of the story felt so promising. All he cared about was what Emory thought of him and his self perceived failures, and all I could think was if he truly liked her he would be focusing on how he feels about her. Overall, Yun was a soul sucking, emotional and financial leech. 

Andrew is much more conventional, almost eye-rollingly so, handsome, financially comfortable, described as perfect multiple times by those around him, admittedly biased characters, but still. I liked him because whilst he was also oblivious to peoples attention of him, he was always so considerate towards others.

My favourite character was Emory, but even then felt like a distant enjoyment of her role in the story. She was so much more complex and insightful, wondering if she’s responsible for the narrative and consequent public response to the mysterious illness in the story. She had a good role in the story but I wish it was explored more.

But anyway, as mentioned earlier, I found this book hard to decipher. There was subtle dystopia present and yet it didn’t feel world-ending. I interpreted it as a commentary on how people’s mental health was affected by the pandemic and in that regard, it was cleverly written. 

But the characters weren’t fully fleshed out, the story felt like it had been picked up and dropped in exchange for a different focus and the time jumps literally fried my brain. But it did feel slightly cathartic after the last couple of years with the covid pandemic. I could see how it would make people feel seen because sometimes, even a persons smallest problem needs large support. 

I sincerely wished I’d enjoyed this more. If there was a subliminal message within, then unfortunately I didn’t receive it.

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Are You Happy Now is a response to the future and the feeling that we are powerless to make any meaningful difference to change things. A few random cases of Millennials falling into a catatonic state gradually turns into an epidemic. As the people die after two to three weeks, letting their bodies shut down, there is no discernible cause or common factor. The young people in this story carry on their love lives and interpersonal relationships, as it’s the one meaningful thing in their lives that keeps them going. 
As individuals we all feel powerless to stop climate change and young people must feel even more disenchanted; frustrated with world leaders, politicians and industrialists. They are in no position to do anything but protest. Protest by non-action. 
Not a positive read but it sums up a feeling and a generation.
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I loved this book! It felt somewhat cathartic after the last few years we’ve had. I thought the plot was unique and well developed though it is more of a character focused story.
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4.75 ⭐️ (rounded up) 

TW: this book mentions suicide, mental illness, death, panic attack in detail but also many more which I touch on later in the review. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Viking (Penguin General) for accepting me to be a pre-publication reviewer. 

This book was honestly so incredible and a massive mind f**k to try and wrap my head around. It is really hard to categorise, read and review it but I shall try. 

The only reason I didn’t give it the full 5 ⭐️s is down to some plot points and parts just not being to my taste. This is most apparent with the mention of drug taking which I don’t really care for or like to read about. Additionally, some things irked me. But these were minimal in comparisons to what I did like. 

I’ll start with a little plot summary. Four people attend a wedding where a woman suddenly stops, sits on the floor and will not be moved. Any attempt to encourage her to get up, drink, eat or anything is met with uncharacteristic violence. This is the first case out MCs experience but it will certainly not be the last as this catatonia pandemic sweeps the earth and people start giving up. Is it a choice or an illness? We don’t know the reason why, if it’s contagious, or if it can be stopped. Unlike other speculative fictions, Jameson don’t take the route of focusing on this but instead pushes it to the background bringing out attention to the four main characters: Emory - a budding journalist, Yun - a DJ and musician, Andrew - a philosopher lecturer, and Fin - a ballet student. We’re taken through their lives as they search for a reason to keep on going. Relationships are made and tested, forced down truths are given the light of day, jobs come and go and many more occur. We’re also introduced to a varied and diverse range of peripheral characters too.  

In the acknowledgments, one of Jameson’s friends Carrie Darmanin dubbed it ‘the most Millennial novel ever’ and yes, this is an amazing summary. The book really delves deep into this generation and there are so many passages that force you to think things over. It’s nuanced with many ideas and arguments being put forward by various characters which make it such a great social study in a sense of the psyche of millennials right now. There is a recurring notion of previous generations ruining the present and younger people inevitably being the ones to take their place leaving them lost. Each character deals with the though that there isn’t now and will not be a reason worth living now or in the future so take to disengagement instead. Henceforth, are people just giving up and sitting down because they’ve been forced into extreme depression or are they rebelling - like the ‘sit ins’ of previous rights movements, their apparent inaction instead being the only action they feel appropriate to take part in - or is it just a virus, an illness? SPOILER ALERT: We don’t find out. And whilst this may be annoying, for me it wasn’t at all because we’re forced to reevaluate what has occurred, the arguments, theories and the general unknown. Truly incredible. 

I believe I could write a whole book just on the messages portrayed in this novel. It’s insane how much the reader is made to think. This is in part due to the fantastic writing that is so addictive. The dialogue is super realistic (I don’t like to compare authors too often but it gave my Sally Rooney vibes in its authenticity and introspection but without the pretentious undertones) and despite there being this bate of Catatonia going around, it is set in contemporary New York making it even more real. The characters then add more realness and intrigue because they are written so well - the development, nuance, analysis, their pasts, just everything - and you are totally hooked. You desperately want things to work out, good things to come their way and at times to go into the page and shake them to do or say a certain thing. Exceptional. All put together, Jameson crafts an extremely intriguing and captivating book that encourages, nay forces, you to read on and on - truly addictive. 

Now we come to the topics discussed… and oh my are there a lot. Death, suicide and mental illness (and various conditions) are recurring throughout, with many sides, points, arguments and examples talked about. There are at points characters who take a very unhelpful approach such as suggesting the ‘sitters’ (those who sit down and don’t get up) just bring it upon themselves, their being selfish and questioning ‘what it is they have to be sad/anxious/stressed/depressed(/so many things) about?’ There can be some merit but overall you’re encouraged to take the opposite viewpoint - reminiscent of the boomer v millennial v gen z debate and ongoing mental health pandemic. Additionally, panic attacks, ‘vice’ reliance, internal homophobia, relationship dynamics, the ethics of having a child, unemployment, and general pandemic-related connotations are all discussed. Each are very interesting and personally the queer storylines were portrayed superbly - the idea of hiding one’s truth, certain jealousies and just Awgh I loved it, honestly proved my point that seeing yourself in what you read is so important and great. 

I don’t think I have anything specific I wanted to add but undoubtedly there will be because this book was honestly phenomenal. And the title ‘Are You Happy Now’ put forward as a statement, not a question is utter brilliance - gosh, my head is hurting by how much I can extrapolate just from this, let alone the whole book. I think I’m going to go away and write a thesis so Yhh wish me luck. No but for real this book was so great and I wholeheartedly recommend it, there are TWs so check these first but Yhh… amazing. 

Below are a series of quotes/passages that really piqued my attention: 

He made a vague gesture at everything; a gesture which had become universal in the last few years. Everything. The overwhelming feeling that everything was out of control and only moving further out of control.

… it was never a good time to realize you
really liked someone. Realizing you really liked someone meant knowing on some level it was going to hurt.

It was like he kept several different selves locked behind unmarked doors, all of which were opened by different keys.

‘… She couldn't just die, she had to cause this much drama. You must have to really hate everyone, to decide you're
going to die like that.'
A knot of panic was forming in Emory's throat. 'You really think they decide?'
Lara threw her a look that implied she was being pathetic. ‘What else would you call it?'

Everyone his age joked about wanting to die, using it in the careless way other generations said ‘Fine'.

He was struck by the familiar feeling that someone else out there, or maybe several other people, were already living the life he was supposed to be living, because maybe he had been too slow or too unfocused, or just not good enough to attain it. 

‘… Even when things did go well, you were never happy because it wasn't like this ultimate fantasy you already made up in your head.’ She took a breath. ‘It was really hard to be around, to be with someone who was just never happy.’

‘My sister told me she had depression a few years ago.’ Shelley said the word 'depression' like a slur. ‘But it never made sense to me. What did she have to be depressed about? She described it as somehow not being able to get up or do anything.’
‘It does seem similar.’
Shelley shook her head a little too aggressively, fiddling with her wedding wring. ‘Trust me, whatever it is, it's not
depression. No one dies from depression.’

He didn't want to die, he just wanted to stop, to cease, sit down. Maybe just sleep, for a year or maybe forever.

‘… It doesn't make me feel sad, it makes me feel more . . . homesick.' 
‘Where are you from?'’
‘Not for my actual home.' … ‘Sorry, I'm not explaining this very well.’
‘There is a word for that. A student of mine told me about a word in Welsh, hiraeth.’ … ‘It's also difficult to explain, but it conveys an emotion which is something like homesickness, nostalgia and regret all rolled into one. It's a longing for home, but it's a home that's not specified or definite. It's not a physical place, not a home you can really return to.'

‘Where was the last place you felt truly at home?' the therapist had asked him four weeks ago.
‘Nowhere,’ Andrew replied, truthfully. ‘I think home is in the routines we make for ourselves, the familiarity we build. But I don't think I've ever felt at home. Like I belong to a place.’ 
‘Why do you think that is?'
‘I think we all have to live somewhere, but I don't think homes exist, in the romantic sense of the word.’ … ‘Home is just a lie our brains tell us about permanence.’

How many times he had lied to himself and others, so accustomed to being numb, sleepwalking through his own life, never letting himself think about what could be, if he let himself want.
This wasn't a new discovery, not really.

Was that 100,000 in the US now? 100,001? Fin checked the figures several times a day: Whatever the exact number, he felt the additional one more keenly than the hundred thousand or so preceding it.

He couldn't stand to be looked at like he mattered, when mattering to someone was this dangerous.

Andrew had walked away from enough in his life. He knew how hard it was to retrace your steps, especially if you had gone to great lengths to forget how you got there in the first place. Kicked dirt over the footprints, erased all evidence that might provide another person with a reliable map of how to love you.

Kick the can down the road for long enough and there might not even be a can or a road any more.

‘Maybe there is something to be said for the fantasy, Andrew said, after a sip of brandy. Deep down, people know just how unlikely their happiness is. The only thing we can at least be honest about is we want things to work out, and that's what these stories are really about. It's not about the lie, it's about the fact there is value in wanting to be happy.’ 

‘What does your therapist have to say about everything?' Emory asked, changing the subject…
‘Mine says my problem is with "life's inherent uncertainty".’ Lara pulled a face. ‘I feel like my problem is actually with all the certainties…’ 

Happiness was so grievously boring to witness, it almost defied aspiration. The only way it manifested now was in filtered, Instagram-friendly snapshots, with neat borders and carefully defined limits. Four a.m. alarms and green juices, meditation, jogging, yoga, gratitude lists and whatever soundtrack happened to be trending…
Is that it? Yun would think, scrolling through image after image of what everyone was meant to want. He wasn't grateful. He refused to be grateful, for any of this. This can't be it. This can't be fucking it.

‘…We speak how people in sitcoms speak and act out concepts like love according to how we see it presented, rather than organically. It's about watching replacing living, how we are encouraged to be passive spectators rather than participants. To Debord, our relationship to media makes our ability to intervene in our own lives harder…’ 

Using ‘sorry’ as a form of condolence wasn't really a concept in Mandarin. ‘Duì bùqī' was only applicable in situations
where your actions had wronged someone else, so saying it in the face of death wouldn't make sense unless you had killed them yourself. What his family said was ‘Jié'āi shùnbiàn', which loosely translated to
‘Restrain your grief and accept the inevitability of change.’

A fist took ahold of her heart from the inside and tried to drag her to the floor. Love was so heavy. The weight of one human life was so heavy.

‘… The song ends on its own time, but that final line disappears first. That's how life works. Time passes, every thing fades out, the song carries on without you.’ 

He was here, right here, right in front of her, and she couldn't explain why she felt so heavy with want for someone she already had.

He wondered if a love not properly expressed mutated into something jagged and unwieldy like metal, something that could kill you.

Did he deserve it? Probably not. But people didn't get what they deserved, they got what they were willing to take.

The main problem with his life-as-a-movie theory was that it wasn't easy to apply to other people who weren't the protagonists of his reality. What happened to everyone else?

Yun said, 'I wish life came with, like, an inbuilt highlights reel.'
'A trailer?'
'No, a highlights reel, at the end. But you get to see it halfway through, for morale.'

He wanted something too large and all-encompassing to articulate, and even if he had known what he wanted, he didn't know how to ask. How do you ask someone if you can go back? Asking if you could both go back was too much to ask of anybody, certainly too much to ask of someone who was moving forward. He could ask for anything but more time, to go back and right that misstep.
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"Are You Happy Now" by Hanna Jameson is a bit of a different dystopian/pandemic book to those that I've read in the past.  One day, people just start sitting down and don't get up.  It happens all over the world and soon it is a pandemic.  What I liked about the book was the young characters finding their way through life, dealing with the uncertaintanties which are chucked at them and how the pandemic just seemed to taper off just as mysteriously as it arrived.  However, I'm in a dilemma as those things that I liked, I also didn't like to some degree.  I'd have liked maybe a bit more of an exploration of what caused the mysterious illness, what can be done about it and maybe treating it as an allegory for modern life.  I'd give it 3.5 stars but rounding it down to 3 here.
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