DeLillo's latest came highly recommended by some people I trust, and I enjoyed most of his 1997 novel Underworld, so I was eager to dip into it. Despite its relatively short length, I found it wavered between dull and actively aggravating, and was a chore to finish. No humans have ever had conversations like the ones that take place in Zero K. The moral questions the book raises—If technology lets us live to be 500, do we want to? Who gets to live and who doesn't? And what if the planet is a giant dumpster fire when the technology promised by cryogenics allows us to return to life?—could be interesting, but they're not in this book.
I can sum this piece up in one word: boring, pretentious, serpentine, indecipherable, pedestrian tedious and pedantic. I was excited to find a new author whom I thought I could follow especially since my favorite librarian suggested this one to me. I am not sure I'll be able to make eye contact with her ever again. However, there is also the possibility that I am not smart enough to read books of this caliber or they are just not bag, as it were.
I can understand why some would not enjoy this book. First of all, to simply say this book is about death and the questions that arise from it is a bit misleading. The bulk of the text is much more like living in the mind of someone else and for me it felt much more personal and real. Not like reading a narrative of someone else's story or journey or thoughts but actually inhabiting their mind, being a silent observer. I absolutely loved every word of this book. If you're looking for a typical story driven narrative this book will not leave you satisfied. While it may not be a unique experience for everyone (more particularly avid readers) it certainly was for me. If you've ever wondered what it's like to be in someone else's mind this book is for you.
The protagonist suffers from a lot of ennui, which didn't make for a compelling character. In assuming that people can be cryogenically preserved and brought back to life in the future, DeLillo does pose interesting questions about whether it would even be desirable. Will one have the same personality? memories? Will the planet have a renewed or ravaged environment? Even so, I just never reached a feeling of engagement with it. Maybe because I compared it to his excellent book, White Noise.
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