I first read this when it was first published, having enjoyed Scarlett Thomas's early crime novels (I know she doesn't rate them much from the introduction to this edition, but it would still be nice to have them on kindle) and remembered enjoying it. When it was released so cheaply on kindle, it seemed a good idea to re-read it and, although I do fully understand why other people did not like it, I found it as enjoyable as I did previously.
The idea is a simple one. Six 'Bright Young Things' are lured by a newspaper ad to apply to a job. To be fair, perhaps they should have been warned by the application form which asked them what their greatest fear was; but, as one of the characters points out, you simply fill in forms and you don't really think about them. Either way, the book first gives an introduction to each character - each with their own issues, problems and need to get away or find a job. The last thing each person recalls is drinking coffee at the interview and then they wake up on an island. It has a house, a source of power and lots of supplies, but no discernable way to make contact outside the island or to escape.
There is a plot, but mainly, the characters simply interact. For those of us who were young in those days, pre Big Brother and the horror of what was to become reality television, this was a fascinating read and an interesting idea. Now, perhaps, we are overloaded on such images, but, for what it was and for when it was written, this book works really well. I enjoy Scarlett Thomas's novels, her style and the way her writing flows. There is a lot to enjoy in this novel, but I suspect you have to be over a certain age - that of the authors perhaps - to understand it.