Cover Image: None of this is Serious

None of this is Serious

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Member Reviews

‘None of this is serious’ is one of those books that really has the same vibe as Sally Rooney; a young woman contemplating her life and place in the world. 
I do like novels like this where it isn’t necessarily plot driven but you get inside the MCs head and thought processes. I liked parts of this book a lot but there were times where it gets a little repetitive almost like a journal style novel, so that’s understandable with the thought processes we all have over moments in our lives. 
The part I really loved though was Sophie’s position physically and mentally in this story. Sophie has questions about her friendships and relationships and is stuck at a party doom scrolling the internet. The world is crumbling and the big issues make her feel helpless and ridiculous for worrying about herself. But the problems in her own life give her epic anxiety because she needs to find where she fits in and if that place even exists when the world is so messed up. I appreciated the back and forth in her narrative although Prasifka has a more direct style than some of the more lyrical feel novels I have read but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
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"Something's about to shatter, and I don't want it to be me, not this time"

Note: I'd like if other readers went in blind like I did, so for people who haven't read it, please note I'll be spoiling just the first few chapters for the sake of this review, but I won't discuss the ending in mich detail. 

"None of this is Serious" was not remotely what I expected, and though I was excited to read the book after so many early, glowing, reviews, I thought it was just another sad white millennial woman book, but while this was also the case, I wasn't expecting the twist at the end of the first chapter that really lets you know Prasifka is very much in charge, and you can leave your expectations at the door.

This is a 'coming of age on the internet' novel with a twist in that it is set during an alternative world wide event - a shooting star that causes a crack in the sky instead of a virus, but readers will recognise much the same reactions, hot takes and strange mix of hysteria, black humour and ennui we saw online at onset of the coronavirus pandemic. I love that it is still a book about the pandemic, but not as we know it. It is more about popular response, division, and terror while living everyday life, and everyday problems too - love, friends, mental health, the economy and the housing crisis are still all important in the lives of young people in Ireland at what sometimes seems like the end of the world. There are some pretty on the nose barbs about the Taoiseach's response to the growing worries about the pandemic and how we must prioritize the economy, which made me enjoy Praaifka's wit as well as some ideas and sentences that had me scribbling in my notebook in either fervent agreement, recognition or interest. 

The character has a really interesting, acute awareness of herself as a capitalist pawn, hating the system but hating how badly she's performing within it as other people's careers show promise - the economy seems totally made up to her because it doesn't benefit her. This worry about her future and success are accompanied by she feels is the comfort of, but is actually the anxiety of, her constant dependence on her phone and the internet. There are some amazing quotes like how she is "buyed along by my phone's currents", the internet giving her what seems like life but it's a half life riddled by anxiety, and she is "growing fat" and feeding off this content like a parasite (though the constant worrying about being fat is a little tiring - perhaps much like it would be for the person who internalizes these societal pressure). Interestingly, she's not even that interested in what she reads online; she's passing the time and at once distracting herself from and throwing herself further into the worries that consume her, becoming more detached from the people around her and more invested in conspiracy theories that further threaten her hold on real life. The book begins with her wishing she wasn't alone, this wish and the realising that, good or bad, we are never really alone when we are constantly online, and this will never solve the problems in our own lives. Furthermore, the crack might have brought everyone together, but in an age of such division people will always find a way to politicize everything and use it to drive a wedge between people.

Prasifka resolves the book nicely, but leaves us with some haunting questions: Do we deserve these horrors, the end of days that we worry about in the background while scrolling? Is this all  the consequence of continuous greed and violence and willful ignoring of the climate crisis? If this is a coming of age novel at the end of the world, she doesn't just mean the giant crack in the sky, she means everything that was present before this event, that all exist in the real world too, and we will still have to face up to these problems, pandemic or not.
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It's all just a little too familiar.  The Dublin setting. The millennial concerns. The variations of selfish, toxic men and selfish, toxic woven. The largely blank narrator characterized by the total lack of direct speech attached to her. The only thing that could set it apart is the unearthly event that happens in the first chapter. But this is left unexplained and simply acts as a shorthand way to make the characters address certain issues without having to embed them naturally in the plot.
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Are we riding a tsunami of twenty-something-angst-filled-relationship-stories-a-la-Sally-Rooney? I reckon we are. It’s the new version of Irish misery porn, and I’m okay with it. It’s ‘comfort reading’ – not overly challenging and largely predictable. None of This is Serious by Catherine Prasifka fits the mould.

The story follows Sophie and her friends. Their time as students in Dublin is coming to an end, and while many of them have figured out their next move, Sophie is at a loss.

I don’t want them to leave me behind for their shiny new adult lives. Nearly everyone is emigrating somewhere: London, New York, Sydney. Part of me wants to go with them; it would be nice to abandon my past life for a state of constant present.

Key to Sophie’s world is Grace, her charismatic and confident best friend; Finn, the boy she’s loved for the longest time; and Rory, who she’s only just met but begins flirting with via text messages.

I read and reread my message to make sure it reads okay and has the appropriate emojis and punctuation, and then send it. I think I’ve achieved a nice balance between it having no concrete meaning, and also controlling every possible meaning.

There’s an exquisite scene near the beginning of the story where Finn asks Sophie for relationship advice. Did you ever have someone you had a mad crush on talk to you about their relationships with someone else, and all the while you’re thinking, “What about me?! I’m right here, in front of you!” Anyway. Prasifka gets the dialogue and the pace just right, and it sets Sophie and her friends up as relatable and familiar.

The point-of-difference for None of This is Serious is a crack in the sky, which appears while Sophie is at a party. People’s responses to the crack are varied – curiosity, fear, awe and anxiety. Some become obsessed with it, others quickly ignore or forget about it. There are theories about the crack online, memes, and people pleading for the government to ‘do something’. Is the crack a metaphor for COVID? Or climate change? Maybe. It certainly provides an existential focus for Sophie’s anxiety, when perhaps the real concern is her finding work.

I scroll through the internet for a while, but it only makes me anxious. Everything’s about the crack; people are posting images on Instagram and sharing graphs on Twitter. Most of them haven’t labelled their axes, but they’re all red lines sharply rising and carefully crafted to ensure panic… I’m not sure when the internet ceased to be a place I could escape to, to get lost down rabbit holes and take care of virtual pets, but it does not offer me the same things any more. I have a feeling it’s to do with cyber and personal spaces melding, warping each other.

The crack also allows Prasifka a broader commentary on the role of social media. It occurred to me as I was reading that Sophie and her friends have essentially always had mobile phones and social media as part of their lives, and it forms an integral part of their friendships. In opting out of a relationship, Sophie feels she also must opt out of her online world, which therefore cuts her off from others. She observes –

I have messages that are unopened, but I don’t feel like chatting to anyone. I’m not convinced that people chat any more; they just watch the clock tick down until they can go to sleep again.

There are other elements to this story concerning Sophie’s relationships, particularly with her twin sister. Ultimately I couldn’t decide whether the magic realism added interest or was a distraction, but either way, this book delivered in exactly the way I expected.

I received my copy of None of This is Serious from the publisher, Canongate, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

3/5 I’d read more from this author.
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A meditation on social media and identity in the wake of a situation no one properly understands - sound familiar? This is treading a lot of the same ground as Sally Rooney’s novels (Ireland, millennial experiences, interesting dialogue tricks), but it feels like a hollow knockoff.
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Thank you so much to Canongate and NetGalley for the advanced digital copy of None of This is Serious in exchange for an honest review.

I really wanted to like this book, but it unfortunately fell flat to me. I ended up stopping at 40% because I just wasn’t invested in the story and the characters, and I really had to push myself to get even that far in the book. The writing and plot felt repetitive at times and the characters weren’t developed enough for me to carry on. While it was an interesting choice to not have written dialogue for the main character, I didn’t think that it worked at all. It made conversations feel disjointed, and it was often confusing on whether the MC was thinking something versus saying something. I think that was the ultimate deal breaker for me and why I wasn’t able to finish the book.
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Didn’t get around to reading the book before it was archived, so unable to give a full review. Will look out for the book soon though and look forward to reviewing then. Enjoyed catching up on some brilliant reviews here!
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If you like "Millenials novels" written by Irish women, this should be right up your alley, though it felt a little more Gen Z than Millenials. 

Sophie and her friends are fresh out of uni, in that awkward period of life where you're often paralyzed with doubt trying to make important life choices (no? Just me?). 
Most are stuck at their parents' home due to lack of job opportunities and Dublin's ridiculous property prices. Job applications, arguing about social issues, getting drunk at parties, scroll scroll on your phone, repeat. Until an worldwide event changes everything... but does it?

I quite enjoyed how this novel takes on the toxic effect of social media on social interactions, the way it changes the way we interact/react to the  outside world, the overload of  information eventually rendering any event mundane and meaningless. Yet we too often use it as a cope out to not face reality.  Other themes approached are the dark side of capitalism, gender/social inequities and the issue of consent and sexual assault. All cheerful stuff.

I recognised myself in certain aspects of Sophie, especially in recent years, where I *scrolled scrolled* to tune out the existential (or Cvid) dread, only to end up feeling even more anxious and inadequate. 
However all we see here is Sophie reacting to things and being quite passive, which makes the novel drag a little. 
As it's not really plot based, the secondary characters could've done with a little more fleshing out. I'd have love to have some background on Grace and Dan and their relationship with Sophie for example. Or Sophie's slightly toxic relationship with her family? 

Overall, though I felt like there was something missing, I did enjoy this novel.
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have been avoiding writing this review, simply because of how much I've been struggling to put into words my feelings regarding this book. I've been trying to make it coherent since I finished the book, but that was a harder task than I originally assumed it would be.

None of This is Serious is an interesting book, in terms of it being exactly what it said it will but also completely different than what I expected. I expected to find this very relatable and to enjoy it a lot more than ended up being the case. This book was compared to Sally Rooney by a lot of reviews, and I fairly recently read Conversations With Friends, so I was pretty excited for None of This is Serious.

The book opens with our main character Sophie, at a party with friends. It is definitely a slice-of-life story, just the cast of characters going about their everyday life. However, at this party the characters witness "a crack in the sky" appear, which is perhaps a trick of the light, pollution, or some sign of the rapture - the thing is, no one actually knows. Seeing that, everyone takes to social media, where countless comments, doubts, and memes appear and everyone just moves on. Everyone goes back to their regularly scheduled lives, Sophie is without success looking for a job, and having relationship issues, both romantic and overall. What is interesting about this book is that it combines the existential dread of being in your 20s, growing up, and having no clue what you're supposed to do, with a more urgent, but similarly futile existential dread caused by inevitable climate change and what is perceived as a sign of impending doom.

First, I will say that everything that happens we witness through the protagonist, Sophie's point of view. This is where a clear comparison with Sally Rooney is being made – while Rooney just doesn't use quotation marks, here they are used, but not when Sophie speaks. I found this slightly disorienting and confusing as most of the time I assumed that something was Sophie's inner monologue, and then a character would directly respond to that. To no quotation marks whatsoever I adapted very quickly, but the way it was done here was something I did not get used to by the end – but that might just be my issue that no one else will experience.

Sophie is an interesting main character to follow. She is someone I thought I would relate to – she is in her early 20s, she spends a lot of her time online, struggles with her body image, with her family, theirs and overall societal expectations etc. A lot of those topics are very relevant to me, and yet reading this I wanted nothing but for this book to end sooner. Now, I don't generally think characters need to be "likeable" for me to enjoy them, but there was just something about Sophie that truly stopped me from understanding her as a character and to enjoy reading from her perspective. I think it was maybe because nothing she thinks feels like it's her own. And I don't mean that in a way that she is just like everyone else – I wouldn't mind that in the slightest. This is more the fact that reading this you just witness her react to things. We are supposedly in her head, reading from her perspective, but it feels like if there was nothing to react to, she would just not think or say anything. Maybe that is the point, the book deals a lot with how the social media influences us all, and maybe this is some commentary on that, but if it is it probably went over my head, as this just did not make for an enjoyable reading experience. Reading from her perspective often felt more frustrating than anything else. She does often feel younger than she is, even straight-up childish at times. In some aspects this book feels more like it should be ya rather than new adult/adult contemporary. She most of the time seems like a passive observer in her own life, and not like someone willing and capable to make decisions and change things.

The rest of the characters are less fleshed out, not in a badly written way, but in a way that most of this story is about Sophie. The rest of them are a strange bunch, and besides her friend, whom I also disliked at times, the rest just seem like she would really be better off without them. During the novel, we watch her form two romantic relationships, with Finn – whom she's liked since forever, and Rory – a friend of a friend, whom she just met. Now, from my perspective, Finn seems like a pretty awful friend and an even worse dating option, while at the beginning Rory seems like the obvious choice she avoids making. I will say that for about half of the book, when one of them was on page I kept thinking it's the other one – not because they're similar, they're not, but simply because Sophie's apathetic way of narrating really made no difference in whom she was interacting with, or talking about. Now, my mixing them up aside, this is the aspect of the book I, for the most part, enjoyed. While I haven't enjoyed it as much in the first half of the book, the second half of the book really has a good point to make regarding relationships, and what you think you want and what you think you need. This is an excellent discussion point because it really brings to light that things are not always how they seem, and how quickly everything can change in an unpredictable manner, including your needs and wants. I liked the realistic portrayal of how ruthless the world can be in some situations even when you've done nothing to deserve it (and you yourself have been dealt a bad hand actually). I am being deliberately vague, so as to not include spoilers, but be aware that there are discussions of consent and one scene where consent is very questionable at best.

As I mentioned, most side characters are seen in passing, and none of them are particularly good or likable. I enjoy my fair share of irredeemable, bad characters but those types of characters still have something about them that draws you in, while these characters simply had nothing. I usually avoid saying this, but I found all of the characters (Sophie included) simply too annoying. Sophie's family also provided much frustration for me, as they were terrible to her (and in general), but packaged with a nice bow. They invalidated her (for once perfectly valid) feelings towards her sister, and in general, acted like she was less than her twin. There was no real resolution to any conflict that arose in the book (or no true resolution anyways), and that also added to me disliking this book, as it seemed to tell the reader that every thing, even the little ones are like pointless to try and solve. I do know that this is not the point, and I do absolutely understand what this book was trying to achieve, but that is not what I feel it ended up doing. I feel like there was just too much of trying to be profound by overly simplifying it, but I simply don't feel like the book achieved its point.

Especially regarding that rift in the sky – that was slightly perplexing to me, which I do suppose is the point. It is definitely a response to covid (and worsening climate situation I suppose), which brought out mass apathy and misdirected concern or otherwise commentary on it, but I truly didn't get what this book was trying to achieve. There was nothing that really made me see a new side of all of that, or look at it through a different lens – it was more along the lines of yes, social media bad, climate change real, people not reacting properly, but we all know this. Maybe the simplicity of it was the point, maybe it was supposed to tell us we are all too comfortable with everything happening, but I didn't feel that while reading. It simply felt like it was trying so hard to be profound, but falling just a bit short of it every time.

All in all, this book really wasn't for me. That being said, I don't think it is a bad book, and I don't think you shouldn't read it if you're interested. I really did like the idea of it, and I still think it is a good concept to explore – so maybe you will find it fits your taste better than it did mine!

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an arc in exchange for an honest review.
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*and thank you reader for giving this weird little book a chance'.

That is what it felt like. a weird little book, packed with real anxieties, real people (yes unlikable for the most part but real nonetheless). This might be too personal perhaps to share but I am in a much better place in life so I might as well say it. Grace, the main character? Definitely recognized a lot of my (destructive and mentally unhealthy) 24yo self. 'Painfully accurate' as Louise Nealoan stated. So I loved it. I loved the book. I could not put it down, I was catching myself thinking about it multiple times, and, yes, I will admit it made me think of my past actions, especially regarding friendships and relationships of which I am far from proud. This is not just another 'sad girl in their 20s book' as I have seen some reviews portray. Like, Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan which was longlisted for the Women's Prize in 2021, deals with how complicated it can be to live with climate anxiety, uncertainty for the future, and having a hard time connecting despite having THE internet in your hands.

It did make me sad, but we have to listen to the younger voices, we just have to. And their reality is not the brightest so labeling those emotions filled with worry about their future as hyperbolic, just makes them even more disconnected from the ones who have not done enough to save the planet.
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I am not sure what this book was trying to do, it felt like it lacked a point. Where was the book going? What was it trying to say? I've read the whole thing and I cannot answer those questions.

It was ok at the beginning but it dragged and became dull quite quickly. I could sum it up by saying this is a slice of life of a deeply depressed girl that is dealing with the struggles of her generation. It doesn't add too much to the conversations, I was expecting way more.
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Another addition to the sad 20-something girls genre. This is what I wanted Sally Rooney to be - closer to Naoise Dolan's Exciting Times in terms of being in the head of an overly self-aware 'unlikable' main character. Touches on our relationship to the internet in a way that also gave me Fake Accounts and No One Is Talking About This vibes. 

I intend to buy a copy when it eventually comes out in paperback.
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None of This is Serious is an ambitious debut that speaks to the whirlwind of experiences of new adults in the modern age. The title itself really captures the nonchalant pessimism that I’ve felt from my fellow millennials and now gen z. Overstimulated by technology and social media, depressed by the struggle to “adult” after college, frustrated by a lack of fair political representation, and the additional dread of climate disaster have created an undercurrent of anxiety that has defined the last two generations of young people. And we cope by memeing it.

Although things can seem bleak, the younger generations are also some of the smartest and most empathetic. Prasifka understands this duality and explores these themes with sincerity. Sophie is cynical and at times an extremely frustrating and flawed narrator, but I was invested in her character. Her mental health is deteriorating and she struggles with persistent feelings of not being good enough, she’s caught between toxic people, boys, friends, and family, and she dives into internet addiction as a distraction. This reliance on technology was sobering and reminded me why I can’t stand most social media.

The book could be a little repetitive at times about certain topics, but it never got boring. Once I passed the halfway point I couldn’t put the book down and stayed up all night to finish the book. Prasifka has potential as an author and I’d love to read more books by her in the future.
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Great read, one of the few books that illustrate social media well . The analysis of the the good and evil of social media is also handled perfectly. Easy book to recommend to most people!
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Sophie has just finished college and is unsure of what she wants to do next. She views her friends with jealousy as they confidently navigate life and feels that she is being left behind. She's been in love with her friend Finn for years, and faces a dilemma when she meets Rory online. As a crack appears in the sky, Sophie is left questioning everything about life and her future. 

“I refresh the feed every minute and continue to consume, growing fat. I’m like a vampire, leeching off the content of other people’s lives. I’m not even really interested in anything I’m reading.”

This was a very intriguing book that delved into peoples' relationship with social media. I honestly felt that I needed to delete all apps off my phone after reading this. Sophie is completely dependent on her phone and having access to the internet. Scouring and refreshing apps to learn the most up to date opinions or to see what her friends are doing. Her appetite for information stems for her own lack of self esteem and insecurity and hopes that it will make her seem interesting or intelligent in social situations. 

The book also discusses the difficulties that this generation will face. The crack in the sky could be caused by environmental change, and shows the reaction towards our dying planet with either hyperawareness or indifference. The book also portrays the financial struggles of this generation with Sophie struggling to find a job and dealing with anxiety of whether she will ever manage to afford a house. The misogyny, violence, and abuse that Sophie suffers not only online but in real life is harrowing. Prasifka highlights how victims of abuse can be gaslighted and undermined, and in the end doubt themselves. Sophie's experience is one that unfortunately too many people have gone through and yet it still perpetuates our society.
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4.5 stars.

Wow. 

'None of This is Serious' by Catherine Prasifka was an absolute surprise. I had a gut feeling regarding this book, one that led me to pre-order it weeks before I was able to recieve this ARC copy! And my gut feeling was right. Catherine Prasifka is an author that I will be keeping on eye on in the future as she writes and constructs characters that resonate so deep with me.

'None of This is Serious' is an intensely introspective novel, one focused on the main character Sophie who truly doesn't know what she wants to do with her life. I mean, do any of us? After finishing her political science degree, she is incapable of seeing and understanding of a future where she can exist happily. The world is on the precipice of catastrophe with climate change and the continuing exploitation of land and natural resources for production, social media is changing the narrative of our reality and people are too concerned with feigning ignorance that the world is reaching a critical point. The author has truly captured this almost combative clash between reality that supposedly exists as we see it and the reality being constructed through the digital world. 

A crack in the sky is an overarching plot point that highlights the ridiculousness of us as humans happening on the ground - we observe all of this through Sophie herself. Sophie is an incredibly complex character, she is trying to do what all of us are trying to do and that is to be content with her life and be loved. Throughout the novel, we see Sophie trying to work through her trauma as she has honestly one of the worst twin sisters I have ever read. Hannah is one of those characters who you understand has her own issues and story, but the way that she interacts with her sister, Sophie, makes you as the reader unable to empathise at all with her. She is so insecure and unhappy that she lashes out to Sophie. As a result of almost constant comparisons between them and found lacking, Sophie has such incredible low self-esteem, is uncomfortable with her physical body and studies every single interaction she has with people to uncover every nuance or possible meaning to it, like she's taking an exam. 

Sophie's anxiety is one of the aspects of the novel that I felt was written with such authenticity. I've been Sophie, I am Sophie in different ways. My brain works similarly to Sophie - sometimes it can feel like a minefield. And that element, although some readers may not enjoy it, felt very real to the experiences I and others have had with their own anxiety. Sophie's mind, in some respects, is her enemy. Everything she does or doesn't do, everything other people do, how she interacts with people, etc., is plucked at, unspooled, prodded and pulled apart until it's lost meaning and she feels able enough to deal with it in this now 'dull' form. Some readers may call Sophie unlikeable and frustrating, selfish or narcisstic, but she is just trying so hard to figure out how to live. She believes that everyone hates her or doesn't have time for her, because she is so in her own mind that anything to the contrary feels unrealistic. When she meets someone who seemingly is wonderful, with Sophie believing that someone like him could never actually be with someone like her, her certainty in him collapses after an honestly traumatic event, leaving Sophie reeling. Sophie's reality undergoes changes, higlighting the uncertainty of our world and explores how we, as humans, engage with the people around us. It highlights the hypocrisy of people, their ignorance and the impact it can have on someone. Sophie is just trying to keep her head above water.

The crack in the sky I think could be a metaphor to the literal dying of our planet, to climate change and even to the reality of living during a global pandemic. Similar to the crack in the sky, COVID is the new normal. I don't even remember how we were as a people before the pandemic. The way we live has changed and they way we interact with the world is constantly changing as a result. 

The only reason why I have given this novel a 4.5 stars and not the full five star rating, is because the ending felt quite abrupt, as if in a rush to finish. 

Catherine Prasifka has written a novel that feels authentic and genuine, even when emphasising how ridiculous we all are. I would recommend this novel for those who loved 'Beautiful World, Where Are You?' by Sally Rooney and the Seasonal Quartet by Ali Smith.
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I appreciate what this tried to do but the message was lost in how much the book dragged. The perspective went from interesting to old really fast. The cover is beautiful though!
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A coming of age story discussing friendships, love, and our obsession with the online world - with a surprising apocalyptic twist! I enjoyed this book a lot. 

Sophie is so pretentious and unlikeable but I feel like this was intentional, so whilst off-putting at first, I persevered and I did find myself feeling sorry for her at times (I still wanted to scream at her at others though!!).

I really liked how the apocalyptic, end-of-the-world undertone was a direct metaphor for the cracks in Sophie's own life and her search to discover what is going on leads her to face up to her own issues and try to move past them. 

The only let down for me was the way the dialogue was written. I found it quite difficult to distinguish what Sophie was actually saying and what she was just thinking. This ruined the flow of the novel for me and for that reason I have rated the book 4/5 stars.

If you like Sally Rooney, Catherine Prasifka is a must read for you.
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A very relatable read regarding social media and the effect is having on us the younger generation. I didn't expect to like it this much!
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This is a novel about anxiety of various forms and unfortunately that meant that I just found the protagonist Sophie, a young woman leaving university into a failing economy, to be wearyingly moany. None of This Is Serious’s big USP is that the sky cracks open - used as an obvious pandemic stand-in without the same societal impact - that in my opinion wasn’t used to its full dystopian or speculative potential. Prasifka has an original concept here that hits hard on millennial (or Gen Z?) woes that just sadly wasn’t for me right now.
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