Dublin student life is ending for Sophie and her friends. They’ve got everything figured out, and Sophie feels left behind as they all start to go their separate ways. She’s overshadowed by her best friend Grace. She’s been in love with Finn for as long as she’s known him. And she’s about to meet Rory, who's suddenly available to her online.
At a party, what was already unstable completely falls apart and Sophie finds herself obsessively scrolling social media, waiting for something (anything) to happen.
None of This Is Serious is about the uncertainty and absurdity of being alive today. It’s about balancing the real world with the online, and the vulnerabilities in yourself, your relationships, your body. At its heart, this is a novel about the friendships strong enough to withstand anything.
‘An extraordinary novel. None of This Is Serious brilliantly explores the impossibility to "come of age" in end times, where screens are so contiguous to experience that no-one is ever truly online or offline. She writes truthfully and with affectless nuance about the labyrinthine workings of friend groups and the defences women scramble for in a world that still hates us’
NAOISE DOLAN, author of EXCITING TIMES
‘I inhaled None of This Is Serious. I’ve been waiting for a fictional story that reflects the all-consuming influence that the Internet has on my life. None of This Is Serious is that story. A compulsively readable, fresh and painfully accurate description of the way we live now. Don’t let the title fool you. It is serious. Seriously good’
LOUISE NEALON, author of SNOWFLAKE
‘None of This Is Serious is brilliant – so devastatingly precise about being a young woman living in Ireland and online today, moving deftly between sharp, hilarious observations and heartbreaking, enraging moments’
CLAIRE HENNESSY, author of LIKE OTHER GIRLS
‘A stunning, searing vision of modern neurosis and female experience in the online age, with characters so boldly done they jump out of the page and follow you around the room. You'll come away from it punch-drunk and staggered’
J.R. THORP, author of LEARWIFE
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 91 members
This book was something I did not expect, in a good way.
Sophie has graduated, and is right in the middle of that existential crisis of 'what am I gonna do with my life' and 'how am I ever going to be able to buy a house in this economy', right at the moment a purple crack appears in the sky, which triggers existential crises of 'is the world ending' and 'why is no one as panicked as I am' etc. Very relatable for me, a millennial with eco-anxiety.
The best thing about this book is that it uses these two different types of existential threats to Sophie to show how much we tend to focus on things that don't matter (boys) because of trauma, and how we use the internet to escape from the anxiety and depression the trauma and climate crisis (or possible apocalypse). Smart and well done.
The writing was also impeccable: sharp and feverish.
I devoured this book, it was such a good read and so relatable with the obsessive nature of social media and the effect and hold it has on peoples lives. It was both funny and heartwrenching, I was engaged straight from the beginning.
Sophie isn't the person she seems online. Her best friend has outgrown her, the boy she loves hardly knows she exists, she's starting a strange new online friendship and she doesn't feel together at all, not in the way everyone else seems to be. Her life as a student is over and now she has to go out and add new worries about houses and taxes to the ever growing pile.
Then at a party she doesn't even want to be at, a crack appears in the sky.
And she finds herself just waiting for someone on the internet to tell her something rather than adding yet another phone-camera picture of the crack to Instagram. Now, all she can do is scroll until something, anything happens.
"I'm not sure when the internet ceased to be a place I could escape to, to get lost down rabbit holes and take care of virtual pets, but it does not offer me the same things anymore. I have a feeling it's to do with cyber and personal space melding, warping each other."
None of this is Serious is a celebration of just how wonderful the world is but also just how strange modern life can really be. Delving into the amazing truth of having worldwide connection at your fingertips - but the dangers that come with it too. The mental anguish that seeing polished, curated social media feeds can cause and of course how easily the internet can become a rumour mill.
Perfectly capturing the very real burnout many young people feel when faced with a hopeless future, this story was full of dryly funny and wickedly witty observations about growing up and getting lost - painfully relatable and delightfully weird. Sophie was a brilliant narrator - chaotic and messy but just trying her best.
Bordering somewhere between the mundane and the absurd - this book will make you take a step back and not take things so seriously.
Read through netgalley
I thought this book captured exactly what that weird period after leaving uni and having to be a real adult is like perfectly. I thought it was well written and the crack gave the story an interesting dimension. It kind of felt like the whole story was waiting for something to happen with the crack which sums up the feeling the book was trying to capture really well. Would recommend
Sophie has just finished her degree in political science and falls in some kind of void between being a student and the future which is totally blurred. All her friends seem to have a plan while she is still meandering and feels left behind. She is waiting for something to happen when one evening, there is a crack in the sky. Quickly the internet is full of photos and comments that she obsessively follows. While the earth does not know what to make if this and if it should be treated like a threat, Sophie’s life goes on or rather: it doesn’t. She has been in love with Finn for a long time, but he is more interested in other women and only needs her for the time between. And then there is Rory who is attentive and nice, albeit a bit boring. Even when the sky opens, Sophie is stuck and cannot advance in her life, so she escapes into the online world.
Catherine Prasifka’s debut novel “None of this is Serious” strongly reminded me of Sally Rooney’s books, not just because it is also set in Dublin and the protagonists are at a similar point in their life, also the style of writing shows a lot of parallels. Just like her sister-in-law, she portrays a generation who is lost when they should finally start their adult life and who struggles of coping with the expectations of their families and the online community which provides them with ideals they should adhere to.
“I refresh the feed every minute and continue to consume, growing fat. I’m like a vampire, leeching off the content of other people’s lives. I’m not even really interested in anything I’m reading.”
Having finished college and waiting for the final results, Sophie has too much time she spends online following her friends but also the comments on the crack. The first thing she does after waking up is checking her twitter feed, the last thing she does before falling asleep is checking her feed. She is addicted and unable to live her real life. Online, she can hide behind the invisible wall, she feels secure when chatting with Rory or others, when meeting them in person, she becomes insecure, shy, and totally inhibited. Without booze, she is totally unable of having any normal conversation at all.
It is not only their struggle with romantic life, successful relationships are rare in her circle of friends, it is also professional life which stresses them out. Finding a job is hard, even harder to find one which would allow them to move out of their parents’ house. Being treated like children, they cannot actually grow up and thus find themselves stuck. They just have their polished social media lives which only make the others feel even worse as they cannot see behind the blinking facade.
I could totally relate to Sally Rooney’s protagonists even though I am a couple of years older. It was much harder for me to sympathise with Sophie as she is much too passive and has made herself comfortable in lamenting her situation without doing something against it. Her best friend accuses her of being selfish and arrogant, an opinion I would agree with. She is too self-involved to notice others and pathetically cries over and over again.
“None of this is Serious” is a perfectly contradictory title as the characters’ believe that nothing they do is of any consequence, thus they remain stuck and constantly hurt each other as they are not the superficial beings who can just put away everything they experience. I do believe the author well captured a generation and their feelings of a hopeless or rather no future.
I started reading None of This is Serious the morning after a night out and the hangxiety was real. This book was not only the perfect distraction – I literally couldn’t stop reading it, but it turned out that it was pretty fitting too for my hungover feeling right then.
I didn’t realise before I started it but None of This is Serious looks at themes of social anxiety and how it hard it is to navigate the real verses digital world. To be honest, it was a comfort to have a lead character more neurotic than I was feeling at the time.
In None of this is Serious we meet Sophie. A 22-year-old University graduate who is job hunting, living at home with her parents in Dublin, feels more at ease in the cyber world than the real one and is more than a little lost. She spends an inordinate amount of time online – she has a true addiction.
Another, slightly more random plot element is a huge crack in the sky that emits a purple glow. It can be seen all around the world and no-one knows what it is. I liked this and thought it worked well as a slightly different way to give commentary on the pandemic. Catherine Prasifka has said that she started to write this book before lockdown and finished it during – so she may well have conceived her the crack idea pre-pandemic, but it spoke to me in that way.
The Fall of the House of Usher reference was a nice way to add more to the general feeling of unease about modern life too.
Sophie is a complex character who has too many feelings that she can’t express verbally. She can tweet a version of them, but this, as we know, is not the healthiest outlet.
As the story develops, we learn that Sophie is trapped in more than a few toxic relationships. She has Hannah, her gaslighting twin, Finn, a friend who sleeps with her but doesn’t date her and Rory, her new love interest who she primarily communicates with online.
In the second half of the book I was so livid and heartbroken for Sophie. There is a sexual abuse storyline that really captures the anger of so many discussions I’ve had with my friends.
None of this is Serious is not always an easy read but I binged it. If you’ve ever been in a toxic relationship, or are a woman who has been on the receiving end of any kind of sexual harassment, or ever used social media to drown out reality, or ever felt alone and confuse about your place in the world, you’ll resonate.
I appreciate I haven’t sold this as the cheeriest read but it is brilliant and so relevant. This is the debut novel from Irish author Catherine Prasifka and aside from the obvious Naoise Dolan and Sally Rooney (who is actually her sister-in-law) comparisons, None of This is Serious also reminded me of other clever, cutting, nuanced and insanely-readable novels by Irish women that cover coming of age, alienation and identity themes.
These include Snowflake by Louise Nealon, Eggshells by Caitriona Lally and The Beauty of Impossible Things by Rachel Donohue. The latter also has a reference to a strange phenomenon in the sky.
Personally, all these stories resonate with me and I really enjoy their niche genre. None of This is Serious is a wonderful addition to the group.
I adored this book. Sophie is an utterly relatable protagonist for anyone who’s ever found themselves in the grip of existential crisis or overwhelmed with anxiety and powerlessness about the big issues of our time. It also covered our modern obsession with social media and the online world.
A very different sort of book than I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised by this sharp, funny story.
None of This is Serious is a wonderfully written debut novel. It tells the story of young people in Dublin trying to make new lives for themselves in a city that is becoming unaffordable to live in. The characters are very well written, especially Sophie. The good and evil of social media is also handled very well.
This book vows to show the uncertainty and absurdity of being alive today, as well as draw the line between real world and online. In addition, it's about relationships of all kinds, body image, and the inevitable doom that we will soon face.
The main character, Sophie, had just got her degree but felt like she was being left behind by her peers. She is rejected by companies, overshadowed by her twin sister, bossed around (or at least she thinks so) by her best friend, and in a serious dilemma between a man she had been in love with and another she only connected with online. One of the main points of the book is "the crack" that could be a symbolism of more than one thing. It could be a symbol of the crack in Sophie's life as it all comes crumbling down or it could be literal, symbolizing these "apocalyptic" events that happens in our today's life.
I know, I know. It sounds like something we have heard before but this book offers so much more. The writing is so intimate from the first line to the very last. The book will dive the reader right into Sophie's mind, only seeing everything she is seeing and feeling everything she is feeling. We are not just seeing through her perspective, we are in her perspective. I have some criticisms about this book, but ultimately every single one of them can be rebuffed by the fact that we are seeing through this young woman's eyes. The decisions she made, the actions she took, the dread she felt—all of it just made her more real than many characters you will come across.
I started reading this book thinking that it would be like a Sally Rooney novel (as many others suggested), but it is different! Sure, it has social commentary, the existential dread of a young woman, the frustration about societal problems and the lack of power to do more, the communication or the lack thereof between human beings, and these young Irish people who are so much richer and smarter than I am. And yet, this book offers a closer look at the themes it chose to portray. It didn't just take an idea and called it a day. It dwelled deep into each of them in the best way it could.
I would recommend this book to everyone, but especially to those who enjoy these Irish Millennial Fiction we have seen so far and to those who love books that take a closer, intimate look to a character and their perspectives and how that affects everyone around them. No, but seriously: Just pre-order this book.
Sending my huge thanks to Canongate Books and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review, and to the author for writing this gem of a book that I will reference and cherish for a long time!
cw // food purging, talks of body image and appearance, sexual assault, victim blaming
(I have already added a link, but I will be posting a much detailed review of this book on my blog and on Goodreads on March 23!)