This one is tricky, I’ve actually read the first six chapters three times and the book in its entirety twice – the first time I tried; I just couldn’t connect, the second; I devoured the text so fast I felt like I missed something and the third time I found myself coming up with alternative theories and twisted plot lines.
On my first reading Mae comes across as exceptionally naive, a very shallow character, outstandingly one dimensional and unrealistic, almost plastic. Mae appears to have one desire in life – she wants to be liked, both in person and online, she craves that acceptance. On a second reading I think that this construct may have been intentional, I suggest that Eggers is portraying Mae as a conscious comment on the facebook generation, the story is littered with crumbs that I didn’t pick up on in my first reading, and so not to spoil anything I will just suggest that names matter a great deal to Eggers.
Eggers writing is so fluent, so crisp and so on point – he creates a world that has not yet tipped into the dystopian future of A Handmaids tale or 1984 but a world that is on a knifes edge – sounds eerily familiar doesn’t it?
Postscript: A movie adaptation starring Emma Watson, Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton with Eggers co-writing the screenplay is due for release on April 28 this year. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4287320/