You Suck

Two things drew me to Austin Grossman's 2013 novel You before I had heard even the basics of the plot: I really enjoyed Grossman's debut novel Soon I Will Be Invincible, and my sister mentioned that You involved video games. Sold and sold. I dove in with unbridled enthusiasm, ready to enjoy another sharp, witty novel - and giddy over the possibility that it would have a bunch of gaming in-jokes.

Oops. I'm at a loss, here. There's no way to fully explain how stultifying, how pointless, how shockingly... bad this book is. I can't understand how someone who came out of the gate so capably turned around and wrote such a plotless, meandering, wall of stream-of-consciousness text. The fact that it's based in the world of video game production didn't help at all. This book could have taken place at a pie-eating contest, and still been unforgivably boring. I've seen some comparisons to Ernest Cline's Ready Player One flying around, and yikes. While I enjoyed Cline's book, it was not without some problems. Compared to You, however, it's Twelfth freaking Night.

The narrator is uninteresting and unfocused. All of the side characters (save one) are utterly pointless, and the one that has a glimmer of promise is underused. How much more can I really say? It all comes back to the same point. This book is akin to listening someone tell a two-hour story about parallel parking. Dull, dull, dull. Listen, there's no shame in having only one celebrated work; it's a damn sight better than having zero. We think nothing of pasting a one-hit-wonder label on musicians that have only one good song in them, and maybe it's time we started realizing that authors can have the same limitations. If Grossman can bounce back with the next one, great. But I've got only one thing to say to him for now: I hate You.

You: D


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