The literary premise of this novel targeted at 14-18 year olds is that the size of people in the Lifeanddeathworld, written as one word, is dependent on how much money they have. To move from being the size of rats, the ‘littlepoor’ people need to accumulate ‘munmun’ which will allow them to Scale Up – perhaps becoming ‘middlepoor’.
Of course, it’s equally possible in this world to shrink in size by losing one’s munmun or deciding to literally ‘marry beneath oneself’ in which case you will shrink as your partner gains in stature.
I’m sorry to say that, for the first time in my reviewing career, I was unable to finish the book. The publisher tells the readers that it is a ‘brilliant satire on capitalist excess’ and is bound to be greatly discussed. I’d certainly like to discuss why I wasn’t interested enough to read the whole book. I don’t have a problem with made up words or idiosyncratic spelling providing there is a point to it but Jesse Andrews seems to me to have used it just for the sake of using it.
Yes, we are in an alternate reality but unless you’re making up new words with different meanings, what’s the point of spelling ‘US’ as ‘Yewess’ or ‘sumptuous’ as ‘sumpchewus’ when the same meaning is intended?
The narrative is banal and dull and I couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters. I gave up at around page 166 of the 400+ pages.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Rating out of 10: 5
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: April 2018