The Echo Chamber
by John Boyne
Narrated by Richard E. Grant
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 5 Aug 2021 | Archive Date 6 Aug 2021
Penguin Random House UK Audio, Transworld Digital
Brought to you by Penguin.
What a thing of wonder a mobile phone is. Six ounces of metal, glass and plastic, fashioned into a sleek, shiny, precious object. At once, a gateway to other worlds - and a treacherous weapon in the hands of the unwary, the unwitting, the inept.
The Cleverley family live a gilded life, little realising how precarious their privilege is, just one tweet away from disaster. George, the patriarch, is a stalwart of television interviewing, a 'national treasure' (his words), his wife Beverley, a celebrated novelist (although not as celebrated as she would like), and their children, Nelson, Elizabeth, Achilles, various degrees of catastrophe waiting to happen.
Together they will go on a journey of discovery through the Hogarthian jungle of the modern living where past presumptions count for nothing and carefully curated reputations can be destroyed in an instant. Along the way they will learn how volatile, how outraged, how unforgiving the world can be when you step from the proscribed path.
Powered by John Boyne's characteristic humour and razor-sharp observation, The Echo Chamber is a satiric helter skelter, a dizzying downward spiral of action and consequence, poised somewhere between farce, absurdity and oblivion. To err is maybe to be human but to really foul things up you only need a phone.
© John Boyne 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021
|EDITION||Other Format, Unabridged|
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 29 members
Fabulously Biting...Audio Perfection….. Fabulously biting satire of the modern world and inhabitants. Using the Cleverley family as the centre of this gloriously amusing novel, the reader is taken on their journey through modern life and disasters and those that are just waiting around the corner to happen. Perfectly observed and with perfectly pitched and perfectly nuanced narration from the wonderful Richard E Grant (who, in my opinion, gets it right every single time) - this is one that surely will not fail to resonate with readers. Audio perfection.
3.5 stars. I love John Boyne’s writing and The Heart’s Invisible Furies is one of those books that I regularly press into people’s hands. Here, however, whilst I admire the social satire and the long-overdue takedown of wokeness and social media, the targets seemed a bit too obvious and were delivered with a sledgehammer rather than a scalpel. The Cleverly family are a series of grotesques: father, George is a BBC chat show host; mother, Beverley is a writer who doesn’t write any of her ‘own’ books; Nelson is a teacher with a serious case of arrested development; Elizabeth is a wannabe social media star with a morality by-pass; and Achilles is a 17 year old blackmailer. There is no-one to love and no-one to root for and that is part of the problem I had with the book. Even the peripheral characters are awful. The inevitable takedown of this family is set up well but is drawn out too slowly when the payoff seems obvious from very early on. However, there were some genuinely funny parts of the book. Digs at the BBC; the cynical dispatching of disposable juniors rather than Names; virtue signallers; Instagram influencers and the Twitterati all richly deserve their roasting. I wish some of the humour had been a little more restrained as I think it would have enhanced the punchlines. Finally, I was fortunate enough to be given an arc of the audiobook of this novel and Richard E Grant was the perfect narrator. I could so easily see him taking the role of George in a theatrical version of this. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Penguin Random House UK Audio for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
#loved #5stars #UstymKarmaliuk Hold onto your hashtags and switch to airplane mode because I need to rave about The Echo Chamber. 🧡Much as the Greek Gods represented the sun, sea, earth, sky and all in between, Boyne created the Cleverley family. Parents, sons and daughter, each one embodies different aspects of social media and modern excess. Virtue signalling, self promotion, follower obsession, the politics of prejudice and beyond, the Celeverleys gleefully indulge in them all. 💜 This book was, in itself, an indulgence. I relished every guilt-free moment of despising this genetic grouping of privileged, self-obsessed, vapid, superficial narcissists. But this is about much more than bad people behaving badly. It is through these characters and their entertaining thoughts and escapades that Boyne explores what it is to live and die by the social media sword. 💚 Through absurdist extremes and biting witticisms, Boyne takes modern contradictions on safari. Then he tears them apart like a lion mauling a ghost writer who gets too close in pursuit of the perfect selfie. ❤️️ Finally, I have neglected thus far to mention the real star of this show; that intrepid tortoise known as Ustym Karmaliuk. He is the true hero of this tale. Soundbite 🎧 Richard E Grant’s performance in this audiobook is comic genius. Just the dry delivery of one name - Ustym Karmaliuk - was enough to make me laugh. Every character has a distinctive, fitting voice and I think he portrays the female ones as well as the male. Flawless. Shall I Compare Thee To… Absurdist comedy in literature is rare and rarely as good as this. Were it a YouTube video, it would be cast by Wendy Holden and directed by Jon Ronson. Were it a tweet, it would be trolled by Douglas Adams' Vogons and eventually removed for breaching the rules. Big thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Random House UK Audio and Transworld Digital for providing me with an audio ARC in return for an honest review.
Love Boyne's interesting stories, his gripping writing, and the characters he created. Loved this audiobook too. The narration was very vivid and nice that it added another layer to this beautiful book. Highly recommended! Thanks a lot for this copy.
A chapter into listening to the wonderful narration by Richard E Grant, I had already surmised the following: The Echo Chamber by John Boyne is a farcical, laugh out loud tale about social media and modern society. Farfetched, sarcastic, preachy in places, I am enjoying it immensely. When I got to the end which was a protracted affair due to the vagaries of the NetGalley app. I thought about what had happened and a hell of a lot had, and my thoughts hadn't changed. I loved this journey - an expose of a family of 'characters' who embodied the worst traits of the privileged elites/media darlings/celebs - leading to a meltdown of epic proportions. To my delight, what could go wrong, did. The coincidences were obvious but funny, nevertheless. However, the clearly signposted denouement was a hollow reward. The Cleverley family while exposed as treacherous, more so unthinking, oblivious individuals, who coasted on their popularity, were exposed as such and to their horror ‘cancelled'. But it was clear that whilst fiction, The Echo Chamber mirrors the real world and a few years away from the public eye, a couple of insincere apologies, some grand gesture to those less fortunate and the Cleverley's would be back. Back on social media tweeting, liking, and following. Promoting themselves and putting others down. And that is disheartening. Finally, I was thrilled to be introduced to Ustym Karmaliuk the tortoise on the book cover and the stereotyped Ukrainian cast. It made me ever so glad to be listening mostly at home, because those characters in particular made the story laugh out loud in many places. My thanks to NetGalley, the author and publisher for a copy of this book in return for a candid review.
The Echo Chamber is a witty and well observed novel focusing on the Cleverley family and their well deserved downfall. It highlights the very worst parts of modern society where celebrity and social media ‘likes’ are more important than meaningful relationships and moral codes. George Cleverley is a tv personality and his wife Beverley is a writer. Their three children are all dysfunctional in their own way with Nelson wearing costumes to feel secure, Elizabeth addicted to social media and Achilles using his looks for financial gain. Both parents have been unfaithful but they used to be a normal, loving family. So what went wrong? This novel is literally laugh out loud, especially with the fantastic Richard E Grant narrating the book. The storylines of the five characters are all intriguing and well linked, and the style of language used in the writing is absolutely brilliant. Highly recommend.
I enjoyed this audio book. It made me laugh and cringe throughout. Some of the characters were totally obnoxious, but that added to the humour. A book all about the characters rather than the plot - which I enjoyed, particularly the ending. Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for the audioARC of this book.
3.5 stars I love this authors writing, he wrote one of my favourite books - The Hearts Invisible Furies, so was excited to get stuck in to this one, although it is very different! The Cleverley family are a wholly unlikeable bunch - Dad George is a chat show host at the BBC, Mum Beverley is a 'novelist', eldest son Nelson is a techer at his old school and has never got over his time there, daughter Elizabeth is a social media addict and youngest son Achilles is a teenage con-artist! Also, not forgetting their inherited 'pet' tortoise Ustym Karmaliuk who has an unhealthy addiction to After Eights! Following their dysfunctional exploits over the years as they try and navigate the fast-moving world of social media, there are some amusing plots and accurate representations of several of the current themes - wokeness, cancel culture etc, that can be found across the platforms. Behind the satirical exterior of this story are some important messages that shine a huge torch on the issues, on both personal and societal levels, with social media as a whole. I just maybe would have liked at least one likeable character! Excellent narration by Richard!
In the final chapter of this book, Boyne writes : "As...Kingsley Amis once said, if you can’t annoy somebody, there is little point in writing." and I think he wrote this book as a tongue in cheek antagonistic poke at modern society, 'wokeness' and 'cancel culture'. And maybe I'm too woke myself, but it worked, it annoyed me. Having read The Hearts Invisible Furies earlier this year and fallen in love with his character writing I was delighted to get an ARC of Boyne's latest novel through Netgalley. Sadly I was pretty aghast as I read through the first few chapters as there is not one likeable character in the lot. I love 'flaws and all' writing, but the family at the centre of the story and everyone that they knew were just horrible caricatures and it felt like they were written with a lot of anger. For me personally if it were any other writer I would have given this 2* and given up part way through, and only 2 because it is of course wonderfully written. I didn't enjoy the story at all. But then this type of book is not one I'd usually enjoy anyway, so I've gone for 3* as it's probably the perfect holiday read for somebody, and the 'coming together' at the end was a mildly amusing turn in what I'd already accepted as a wholly unrealistic farcical world by then. Richard E Grant narrated the audiobook and did a wonderful job of it!
I don’t usually enjoy satire but John Boyne is a master story teller and anything that he writes makes a compelling read. The Echo Chamber is no exception. It is funny, clever and even moving in places. The author’s sharp observations and insights in the modern life are spot on. I listened to the audio version of the book and the narration was great.
Hilarious, such up to date clever writing and observations on modern life. So it has a structure, it is based around a infamous family with grown up children, dad is On TV, mum is a writer of sorts, kids well not really developed careers but are finding their way. Life revolves around likes, insta posing, the place to be seen & people to be seen with, blue ticks, a tortoise and a couple of extra martial affairs. Loved it, narrated well. Thank you #NetGalley for the audiobook to review.
John Boyne broke my heart a little bit many years ago with "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" and has touched me with his beautiful writing since then. In fact, I awarded 5 stars to both of his other novels I read, and my friends know that I am anything but generous with my star ratings, so even though there is still a long backlist of his work for me to discover, it's fair to say that he is one of my favourite novelists. "The Heart's Invisible Furies" was like a masterpiece to me, even if it had flaws and too many neat coincidences, but the characters were alive and real to me; I couldn't stop thinking about them long after I finished reading. "The Echo Chamber" has many qualities of his fabulous writing (fun yet real characters, a sharp eye for what is and has been going on in the world, engaging writing, witty dialogue), and yet it felt as though it was written by someone else. I think it's the overall tone of the novel that stopped me from fully engaging - I am aware that this is satire, but at times the characters' thoughts, actions and behaviours were so over the top that I caught myself rolling my eyes more than once. I enjoyed the humour, and I appreciate a satirical angle, but there was an almost slapstick element to the story that I did not enjoy. The intensity of social media and general mobile phone addiction has become an increasingly alarming issue among Gen X members, Millenials and the latest Gen Z, and Boyne does a good job of demonstrating in a humorous way how bad it can get.... BUT.... when it's done purely as a caricature of keyboard warriors and advocates of "wokeness", I don't feel enlightened let alone encouraged about our life with technology. It's here to stay, we need to learn to live in this digital world but remember that human relationships are more important than any number of followers on social media. Boyne tried to address exactly that point, but I feel that he didn't fully succeed in showing us how it's done. 3.5 stars - rounded up to 4 because despite its flaws and shortcomings, I did really enjoy this time with the not so clever Cleverley family and their antics.
Ah I just loved this book (listened to the audio which was superbly narrated). A very dry and witty story which was a perfect reflection of the modern affliction of SoMe! The story made me laugh aloud at times and I really looked forward to my commutes to get to listen to another chapter. The characters are big and bold and although could be quite stereotyped, that seemed to be the purpose of the story so was entirely appropriate. I think this book will appeal to anyone who has an eye roll at the ever invasive presence of mobiles, likes and followers! A definite 10/10 for me!
I’ve long been a fan of a John Boyne, and foolish me I thought he had failed to deliver in the early stages of this book. However as I read on I grew to love the story revolving around the Cleverley family and the role of social media in their lives. This book should really come with a health warning for those on the various social media platforms, and is very much a book of our times. John Boyne does at times make you look at the use of social media again and whether it is wise to have a social media presence, or why you even have that presence. Bu the end of this book I truly loved it and didn’t want to put it down, especially as the train wreck that social media was building in the Cleveleys’ lives became much more apparent. Whilst not the wisest, or the people you could learn to love, I did become fond of them and their exploits. Overall this book ended up being a great hit for me and is something that everyone on social media should read, but it won’t always make comfortable reading. There were quite a few funny moment or sentences within the story. I definitely recommend this book, along with John Boyne’s many other books. Great narration of the book by Richard E Grant, could have listened to him for ever. Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing a copy of this book for me, for an an open and honest review.