Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Book Review: "Boomer1" by Daniel Torday

A fascinating, timely, and thought-provoking meditation on the craziness of our internet-obsessed culture, the generational divide between Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials, and just how far our lives can drift from what we've planned, Daniel Torday's Boomer1 is both funny and eerily prescient.

Mark is a bluegrass musician, a journalist and editor, and a student completing his PhD in English. He hopes to find fame as an insightful political writer, although he wouldn't mind if his band hit it big either. When he meets Cassie, a fellow musician, who plays bass in an all-female post-punk band, he feels like he has met a kindred spirit, especially when he discovers Cassie knows how to play the fiddle as well. The two embark on a relationship, which brings both security, if not wild passion.

But as Cassie's media career starts to take off, Mark finds himself at a dead end, which doesn't help their struggling relationship much. After she rejects Mark's marriage proposal, he's left with no prospects, career- or otherwise. With no money and nowhere else to turn, Mark decides to live the Millennial stereotype—he moves home to Baltimore to live in his parents' basement.

As he starts figuring out his future, his anger grows, so he adopts a pseudonym and starts filming a series of online video rants against baby boomers. The so-called Boomer Missives tap into a vein in society, of people stuck in the same rut he is, feeling the same feelings, and wanting to find someone else to blame. But before he knows it, these videos become a rallying cry for those who feel downtrodden, put upon, and want their chance without having to wait to pay their dues. Suddenly, he goes from spokesperson to revolutionary—with potentially dangerous consequences.

Narrated alternatively by Mark, Cassie, and Mark's mother Julia, a child of the 1960s who thought her life would be much more rebellious than it turned out, Boomer1 delivers quite a punch. There are times when it almost doesn't seem like fiction, because you could totally see something like this happening in today's world.

This is a very well-written book, but I found the pacing really slow. Although I've seen other reviews say that things started to pick up, it didn't for me. I definitely enjoyed the story, but I just wanted things to move quicker, and I wanted to like the characters a bit more, but the book certainly gave me a lot to think about.

If you like a dose of reality mixed in with your fiction, Boomer1 may be just the ticket for you. It will definitely get you thinking!

NetGalley and St. Martin's Press provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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