Bingo: North America
I’m in a few other book-related groups, and whenever this book comes up as a suggestion, there is often a great deal of angst about the setting, in the world of gaming. It’s as if somehow the main characters meeting and bonding through a love of video games and going on to build a gaming company together will make for a novel that is impenetrable for those who aren’t into gaming, or maybe it’s a form of intellectual snobbery, as if something the wary see as childish and shallow couldn’t possible coexist with worthwhile literature.
Sure, if you love gaming you will probably get some extra moments of nostalgia from this novel, but at its heart, it’s the story of an enduring friendship between a man and a woman, Sam and Sadie, two outsiders whose strong bond survives their mutual inability to be truly open with each other and blindness to the other’s difficulties in life. Sam is carrying the weight of his childhood, raised by immigrant Korean grandparents after being orphaned by an accident that left him with a disability and chronic pain, while Sadie is crushed under the toxic sexism of the tech world.
Some aspects of this book reminded me of Normal People by Sally Rooney, another modern classic of failure to communicate, but the strongest resonance for me was with the TV series Halt and Catch Fire, another story of complex and nuanced people striving to be better versions of themselves while building something meaningful in the tech world. If you loved that show, this book is for you.