Overthrow

Overthrow

"A nineteenth-century social novel for the twenty-first-century surveillance state."--The New York Times Book Review "A political thriller with a radical spirit." --The Boston Globe A deeply humane novel that explores the fate of candor, good will, and the utopian spirit in a world where technology and surveillance are weaponizing human relationshipsOne autumn night, as a grad student named Matthew is walspirit."/>The...

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Title:Overthrow
Author:Caleb Crain
Rating:

Overthrow Reviews

  • Tyler Goodson

    Matthew, a grad student, is walking home when a young man, Leif, passes him on a skateboard. Matthew follows Leif to an apartment, turning from what he thought his life would be to one of Occupy protests, computer hacking, and a group of people with mysterious (telepathic?) abilities. The novel that follows, as it drifts through the lives of Leif's group, is as emotionally powerful as it is politically relevant, concerning itself with the interior spaces of its characters more than the politics

    Matthew, a grad student, is walking home when a young man, Leif, passes him on a skateboard. Matthew follows Leif to an apartment, turning from what he thought his life would be to one of Occupy protests, computer hacking, and a group of people with mysterious (telepathic?) abilities. The novel that follows, as it drifts through the lives of Leif's group, is as emotionally powerful as it is politically relevant, concerning itself with the interior spaces of its characters more than the politics that surround them. They are not lifeless sketches, created in service to a plot, but real humans, full of loneliness and desire, who are as bewildered in their extraordinary circumstances as I would be. Watching their stories unfold is riveting and alarming, as they navigate the dread and sense of inevitability that accompanied the end of privacy as we once knew it.

  • Sharon S

    Thank you to the publisher Viking for the ARC and Goodreads for running the contest. I won Overthrow during a Goodreads contest and this is my honest review.

    This is a novel about relationships, stemming from romance, friendships, authority figures, and the legal system. The story begins with the relationship between Matthew and Leif, but later Matthew finds the only way for him to find and meet with Leif is at Elspeth's house, a tarot card reader, they all become friends. Then the st

    Thank you to the publisher Viking for the ARC and Goodreads for running the contest. I won Overthrow during a Goodreads contest and this is my honest review.

    This is a novel about relationships, stemming from romance, friendships, authority figures, and the legal system. The story begins with the relationship between Matthew and Leif, but later Matthew finds the only way for him to find and meet with Leif is at Elspeth's house, a tarot card reader, they all become friends. Then the story weaves in other characters, involving ESP, telepathy with predicting events that transpire into legal matters, with government control. There's a hacking into computer systems too. Variety of characters and subplots keep this story interesting.

  • Jacob Wren

    A few short passages from Overthrow:

    It was one of those late fall days that the warming of the world has rendered so temperate and brilliant. An undeserved mercy.

    It’s about admitting that most of the time people are more aware then they’d like to let on of how other people are feeling. That’s all. And that it hurts to be aware, if you can’t talk about it.

    …he, too, evidently wanted to hear from Leif that soon there would be a

    A few short passages from Overthrow:

    It was one of those late fall days that the warming of the world has rendered so temperate and brilliant. An undeserved mercy.

    It’s about admitting that most of the time people are more aware then they’d like to let on of how other people are feeling. That’s all. And that it hurts to be aware, if you can’t talk about it.

    …he, too, evidently wanted to hear from Leif that soon there would be a better world, that Leif and his friends would be the cadres, that the poor would be fed without humiliation, that governments would invest in the health and well-being of citizens, that henceforth ingenuity would be directed into the creation of art, the discovery of new energy sources, and the preservation of the environment rather than into efforts to confuse consumers into making choices against their best interests.

    He told himself that he was brave enough to be in love, if that’s what this was. He wasn’t the sort of person who needed to be in control for its own sake; he wasn’t a prude or a stuffed shirt.

    Often, by the time you meet someone, both they and you have already made all the decisions that will determine the encounter between the two of you, and the only freedom that remains to either of you is whether to be pleasant.

    It is no secret, for example, that the world is being poisoned and cooked, and that there’s only a generation or two left before chaos.

    What she says is that it’s sometimes the followers of a sect who create the leader out of the most suggestible member.

  • James Beggarly

    A fascinating book about a young group who wants to challenge existing systems and norms and has to suffer the consequences when they step over the line. It’s a book completely of the moment, but still people with well thought out characters.

  • G

    It didn’t do everything I wanted it to, but it’s exceedingly rare that I read 400 pages in a day — a sign of this book’s engaging qualities. Not everything works, but the portrait of a recent, distant past, and the interpersonal dynamics, are effective.

  • Aharon

    On the one hand, it's a taut and careful novel. On the other hand, that taut care is wrapped in two hundred pages of additional mannered gauze. On the next hand, at least some of that gauze is intentional. On the final hand, that's too many hands.

  • A. Andre Broussard

    I was given an ARC of

    through my job as a bookseller.

    I failed to get much of anything from this. The plot—which was, at first, honestly enticing—left me enervated by the end. It bumbled around from one character to the next, docking and undocking with its players in a way that felt haphazard. I couldn’t give you a plot summary if I tried, which is why I’m not going to try.

    And I also found the writing to be, at times, bafflingly weak. “Matthew felt terribly free,” writes Crain, “as

    I was given an ARC of

    through my job as a bookseller.

    I failed to get much of anything from this. The plot—which was, at first, honestly enticing—left me enervated by the end. It bumbled around from one character to the next, docking and undocking with its players in a way that felt haphazard. I couldn’t give you a plot summary if I tried, which is why I’m not going to try.

    And I also found the writing to be, at times, bafflingly weak. “Matthew felt terribly free,” writes Crain, “as one does when one understands that one has lost touch with one’s old life.” Ah. Well put.

    Thinking harder about this, I do want to concede that I might not have had the right background to understand the plot. The story juggles legal processes at the state and federal levels, computer hacking etiquette, the machinations of hired prosecutors, and something to do with a potential dystopian misuse of data algorithms? I dunno. I’ve no doubt that there are many out there who might have an easier task connecting with this; but I can’t say I was one of those people.

    But there are pockets of writing in here that are genuinely good, and his portrayals of life for those gay and young are alive and colorful; these things alone are strong enough to get me excited to read Crain’s first book,

    . They just aren’t strong enough to salvage

    . Ultimately a swing and a miss.

  • Jarrett Neal

    It's hard to be diplomatic and equitable about a novel this bad, a book authored by an individual with obvious ties to prestigious literary circles but who lacks a fundamental command of characterization and dialogue. What perturbs me most about

    is not the fact that Caleb Crain fails to deliver on the promise of this novel--the dust jacket description of the plot is enticing--but that someone like him, who clearly should know better, fails spectacularly, and no one is willing to say so.

    I've re

    It's hard to be diplomatic and equitable about a novel this bad, a book authored by an individual with obvious ties to prestigious literary circles but who lacks a fundamental command of characterization and dialogue. What perturbs me most about

    is not the fact that Caleb Crain fails to deliver on the promise of this novel--the dust jacket description of the plot is enticing--but that someone like him, who clearly should know better, fails spectacularly, and no one is willing to say so.

    I've read reviews of his last book, and other readers seem to accord in their view that Crain doesn't know what interests readers. He doesn't know, artistically, how to use his abilities. He doesn't know how real people talk, therefore his characters' dialogue alternates between insipidness and grandiloquence. He doesn't know how to harness a cultural moment (Occupy Wall Street) to its best advantage (read

    for a better example of that; it, unlike this book, is a stupendous novel). And he doesn't know how to depopulate his books to achieve a stronger, propulsive plot. To me, it seems the only things Crain really knows are lots of influential writers and publishers who will keep cranking out his books and heaping false praise on them.

    Pass.

  • Jeff

    True rating: If I could give it lower I would

    I liked nothing about this book....nothing, that isn't something I can say about very many books I've read. Well into the book and I still didn't care about any of the characters. Boring and the prose seemed forced for the sake of trying to sound poetic. Trash

  • Sarah

    I was so excited for this book when I first heard about it. It seemed like a dystopian novel with some fantastical elements (ESP) and a bunch of dreamers for characters.

    What it actually is, is contemporary literature. This is not my thing. If I had realized that’s what it was I would have NOPED it right away.

    I made it to page 140 before I decided I didn’t want to continue. In that time, we read three chapters, so that was strike number one. Chapter one is 72 pages long. That’s not a

    I was so excited for this book when I first heard about it. It seemed like a dystopian novel with some fantastical elements (ESP) and a bunch of dreamers for characters.

    What it actually is, is contemporary literature. This is not my thing. If I had realized that’s what it was I would have NOPED it right away.

    I made it to page 140 before I decided I didn’t want to continue. In that time, we read three chapters, so that was strike number one. Chapter one is 72 pages long. That’s not a chapter. It’s a novelette.

    In that time I actually did grow to like Leif and Matthew, who I originally thought were the two main characters in the book. If the book had continued to keep Matthew as the POV character, I actually might have continued. Unfortunately, it jumped POVs to a character named Chris, who at that point, was one of the least interesting characters. Chapter three switched POVs again to a character named Elspeth. Chapter four, the point at which I decided I had no desire to continue, saw yet another shift in POV, to Julia. Whose presence in the novel at all is questionable, nevermind the utter lack of necessity to give her a POV. The POV shifts were strike number two.

    And the final nail in the coffin was the world building, or lack thereof. These characters seem to be protesting something, belonging to a wider movement called Occupy.

    I have no idea what the hell they were protesting.

    Their smaller group within the larger group, whose name I can’t recall (but whose initials are something ridiculous like RFTGFP) believes that people should strive to perceive other people’s feelings. Leif is really good at it. He can sense your email password. Chris cannot do it, but believes in it and believes that it’s the most important thing ever. Or something.

    I just didn’t get it. I mean- yeah I get the larger message, we’d all be better people if we stopped to put ourselves in other people’s shoes once in awhile, but I don’t know why or how the government fits into it. There’s some talk of Homeland Security, and tapping phones and monitoring computers… but no indication that any of it was done prior to the group hacking someone’s email. The whole premise is bizarre, and seems overly complicated while also being too simple, and ultimately just not what I wanted.

    Just a note on the writing- the author appears to be some kind of literary journalist, so he uses a lot of obscure words and fancy language that feels superficial at best because he didn’t give us a lot of insight into what the characters were actually feeling. I consistently felt like I was missing some of the context.

    Anyway- this is probably going to be a wonderful book for someone, just not me.

    I won a free copy of this book in a giveaway on GoodReads.

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