Book - 2018
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Candace Chen, a millennial drone self-sequestered in a Manhattan office tower, is devoted to routine. With the recent passing of her Chinese immigrant parents, she's had her fill of uncertainty. She's content just to carry on: She goes to work, troubleshoots the teen-targeted Gemstone Bible, watches movies in a Greenpoint basement with her boyfriend. So Candace barely notices when a plague of biblical proportions sweeps New York. Then Shen Fever spreads. Families flee. Companies halt operations. The subways squeak to a halt. Her bosses enlist her as part of a dwindling skeleton crew with a big end-date payoff. Soon entirely alone, still unfevered, she photographs the eerie, abandoned city as the anonymous blogger NY Ghost. Candace won't be able to make it on her own forever, though. Enter a group of survivors, led by the power-hungry IT tech Bob. They're traveling to a place called the Facility, where, Bob promises, they will have everything they need to start society anew. But Candace is carrying a secret she knows Bob will exploit. Should she escape from her rescuers?
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780374261597
Characteristics: 291 p. ; 22 cm
Alternative Title: Severance : a novel


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List - In the Pink
cals_readers Jun 24, 2019

Candace Chen, a millennial drone self-sequestered in a Manhattan office tower, is devoted to routine. With the recent passing of her Chinese immigrant parents, she’s had her fill of uncertainty. She’s content just to carry on: She goes to work, troubleshoots the teen-targeted Gemstone Bible, watc... Read More »

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Tigard_AnnmarieA Jun 13, 2019

A wonderful, layered birthday cake of a novel: a dystopian read with zombies (not the hungry kind), an poignant immigrant story, and a thought-provoking satire about our capitalist consumption.

May 23, 2019

The novel as onion: first layer is a sci-fi post-apocalyptic road trip, peel back a layer and you have a millennial coming-of-age story, then an in-depth character study, an anti-capitalism treatise, a social satire, an immigrant tale, and finally a symbol-ridden fable - with Scheherazade showing up to boot! All this in 291 pages.
Shen Fever is infecting the world and Candace Chen - a middle-management drone at a book production company (she's in charge of Bible production not incidentally) - remains in NYC long past safety and reason would dictate. The book is deliberately-paced, with switching time frames, from stories from Candace's pre-fever past to her sojourn as the last remaining inhabitant of New York to her present as one of a small group of survivors under the rule of a power-hungry, fanatically religious, controlling leader.
There is not a meaningless sentence in this intelligent, dark, and sly novel. It's insightful about gender, race, labor exploitation, the danger of nostalgia, and the need to balance understanding the past with embracing change and agency.
Can't wait to see what this author does next.

Mar 31, 2019

Dystopian lit: so hot right now. Debut novel that joins the crowded field of "literary" dystopian/post-apocalyptic literature. I'm sure it says something about the zeitgeist that the genre is so popular right now. It's a more nuanced, low-key, and character-driven take on the scenario, with occasional echoes of the show "The Last Man on Earth." Also check out "Station Eleven," "Zone One," "On Such a Full Sea," and "The Power."

Mar 11, 2019

Imaginative, but one’s over-eager dreamscape out of an inescapable reality. Observant, but hashed modern phenomenon.
I’d expected more implicit sophistication and depth out of her personal journey narrative, on the other hand, I’d wished to be bombarded less by collage of material objects when appreciating her sharp social comments.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Feb 18, 2019

Post apocalyptic fiction for those who seek thoughtfulness (rather than fast-paced action). Fans of Station Eleven will enjoy this one

sarah_stevens Feb 02, 2019

I found the main character in this novel very compelling. What I enjoyed most was following her story unfold between her past, as she moves to New York City and begins her career in Bible publishing, and the post-apocalyptic present, as she finds herself among a group of "survivors" of a plague that has wiped out human kind. I thought the writing style was elegant and subtle.

There were several threads within the story that I found exciting, particularly the role/theme of nostalgia, that I felt weren't explored fully. The plot sort of snowballs past the midway point, creating too much detail to examine by the end. I was attached to the character, but I felt her story didn't get its full due. I don't expect or need novels to have tidy endings but this one left too many (really interesting) threads unexplored for me to give it a perfect review. That being said, I still think it's a unique, well-written take on the plague survivor narrative.

Oct 17, 2018

Pleasantly surprised at the depth in this novel. At first it seemed like pure millennial self-indulgence, but as the apocalypse progressed the author drew thought-provoking parallels between the pointless existence of modern life and survival in an empty world.


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