"There are so many ways to go wrong. All we've got are metaphors, and they're never exactly right. You can never just Say. The. Thing."
So. A Visit From The Goon Squad. It almost defies classification really- there are all these chapters that are all different stories, but also they're all interconnected so that in the end you see this intricate tableau of people and their relationships and stories, and the way it all hangs together is really kind of magnificent. The day after I read it (and I read it all in one day, partially because readathon! But also because I'm not sure I could have not read it all at once) I actually made a timeline of when I assumed each of the important characters was born, which was pretty nerdy and which I've now lost, which is probably for the best. But the point is that this book gets to you, and you want to spend all your time figuring out who slots in where and who knows who and whatnot. Or possibly that's just me.
Now, when Red reviewed this ages ago (and probably was the biggest motivating force behind me buying it, her reviews are pretty persuasive!) she said that she saw the book as a series of short stories, and whilst I see where she (and all the people on the 'short story' side of the fence) is coming from, I have to respectfully disagree. The thing is, every single one of the chapters is connected to at least another one, there's nothing just shoved in there without reference to other characters in the novel, and there's definitely a closed loop thing going on in terms of the story. I can't think of anything raised in any one chapter that doesn't get answered in another one, and there was definitely nothing I was left hanging about. Everything and everyone is sorted out, even if it doesn't necessarily go the way you wanted.
So, we're 3 paragraphs in and I've literally said nothing about the story/stories. Anyone would think that style is all this book has going for it, but nope! Each chapter has clearly been carefully thought about and each has its place in the narrative, and the narrative as a whole is fairly awesome. It's basically impossible to give you a definitive 'This is what the story is all about' because it's not like that- each focused on character has their own story to tell, and the fact that characters from other chapters pop up in the others but aren't the focus is something that appeals to me so much because this is what life is like! Seriously- we each have our own stories (lives), people come into them and go out of them all the time, and sometimes they're part of our stories and sometimes they aren't. And that's just life.
Let's talk about a few of my favourite chapters, shall we? (This shouldn't really be spoilery, but if you literally don't want any information at all about this book then you should probably skip this paragraph) I loved the 'PR lady for a dictator' chapter so incredibly much, because it was kind of ridiculous and yet you can totally imagine someone getting themselves into that situation, and I also liked the 'Sasha's College Years' chapter, (that wasn't really about Sasha) even though, or probably because, it was really sad. I could take or leave the Powerpoint Chapter, but it really didn't feel like it was there to show off or anything, and I sort of see it as almost an autistic thing that the narrator of that chapter has almost picked up off her brother?- but that could just be me. And then I really really liked the last chapter, which felt slightly dystopian, but also not that far away from now, which obviously makes it ultra disturbing!
What I loved above all, though, was the way it all hung together so beautifully- that something could be mentioned so briefly in the first chapter, and come up as an actual thing that happens later in the book (obviously it's not in chronological order... that was obvious, right?), or that in the first chapter Bennie's in, he seems like such a loser, and from another person's story later on, we can see how he got that way. It's like getting to know a person- meeting them at a certain moment in time, and then patching together their past life in an attempt to get to know how they got to this point, this one, right here. And I can't even describe how beautifully the first and last chapters align- it's seriously perfect.
Basically, you should probably definitely read this book. I basically loved every character, and those I didn't love I at least understood, and could appreciate how they got into such a state (unlikeability). It's incredibly well crafted, and amazing, and probably one of my favourite reads of the year so far. I recommend taking a day for yourself and this book, and predict that you'll have a very lovely time together.