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PopCo Paperback – 2 Aug 2004

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Paperback, 2 Aug 2004
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PopCo + Our Tragic Universe + The End Of Mr. Y
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (2 Aug 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841157635
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841157634
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,009,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Scarlett Thomas was born in London in 1972. Her other novels include Bright Young Things, Going Out, PopCo and The End of Mr.Y, which was longlisted for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction 2007. She teaches creative writing at the University of Kent. Her website is at www.scarlettthomas.co.uk

Product Description


'Clever, likeable, frothy, zeitgeist-chasing - fans of Doug Coupland should find much to enjoy here.' -- Time Out

'No heroine this year was more beguiling than Alice in Scarlett Thomas's Popco...this book might just change your life.' -- Suzi Feay, Independent on Sunday

'Thomas captures the mind-set of brand-savvy but insecure professionals...her writing is sharp and energetic' -- The Guardian

'Thomas restores the novel to its primary purpose: a blueprint for a revolution. It is an outright amazement.' -- Scotland on Sunday

Book Description

A brilliant mindmelting adventure from the author of The End of Mr. Y --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By random tangents on 13 April 2009
Format: Paperback
The code-breaking information was fascinating and the beginning of the book gripped me almost instantly. Scarlett Thomas writes in a way that I feel she is expressing things I've thought about, but never contemplated writing.

Ultimately though I found long stretches of the book where I felt I was being condescended to and preached at: Despite having been a strict vegetarian (on-off vegan) and immersed in that kind of literature for two decades I felt the pieces about the negative impacts of factory farming and the milk industry were too heavy handed and almost propaganda-like. There are some similar stretches about beauty, identity and fashion which were also patronising.

Unlike some of the other reviewers who were wowed by the ending, I left the book wondering if I had missed a chapter. To me, the ending felt rushed and a little forced (Thomas even seems to hint at this with her protagonist writing a book which she is unsure how to finish), almost like stories I used to write at school for English homework, thinking "I'm bored of this now, how can I get to my planned end piece?"

Despite my comments above (and below) I do recommend this read, although I preferred "The end of Mr Y". I might be a little more wary of her other books, I'm not fond of being preached to and I think thomas needs to be careful of preaching to the converted.

--Please don't read this part of the review if you haven't read the book in its entirety--
Whilst reading this book, I couldn't help harbouring a sense of doom wondering what sinister reason there could be that the NoCo members were coincidentally the same people that PopCo chooses as its elite marketing crack team.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Anna on 1 May 2009
Format: Paperback
For the first 300 pages or so, this had become my favourite book. Reviews tend to involve a lot of hyperbole, but when I say this was temporarily my favourite book, that's the simple truth.

Let me start from the beginning. While it's wholly irrelevant, aesthetically the book is gorgeous. The page edges are dyed a rich, dark, royal blue and cracking it open feels almost decadent; certainly luxurious. The first few pages are a little disconcerting, inasmuch as, small font, narrow margins, no dialogue... it's a wall of text, and it makes it appear inaccessible. But as soon as you start reading, you've got through that and you're happily sitting on Alice Butler's shoulder while she tells her story.

The first half of Popco is like being in a room with rich, dark green or blue walls; dark painted floorboards; fabrics everwhere, lots of lovely strange trinkets on shelves and tacked to walls; old postcards and photos; jewellery hung from beaded lamps and the fugue of slightly stale, sweet dope in the air... too many things to look at and explore and your senses go into overdrive. Thomas draws you into that room *completely* and you find yourself chewing the inside of your cheek from the shock of reading something so full of texture and imagination.

We follow Alice Butler - toy designer and code-cracker - to Dartmoor; then we follow the story to Bletchley Park, then all the way back to British pirates in the 18th century; forward to chocobos in Final Fantasy VII and virtual worlds; back to the 1980s and a small house full of pure mathematics and the
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Trelloskilos on 22 Feb 2009
Format: Paperback
I'm beginning to think I've really found a kindred spirit in Scarlett Thomas. First, I was mesmerised by The End of Mr. Y, loving the myriad of subjects she touched on, before searching out 'Going Out', a book with a very differnt style, set in the heart of South Essex, with the most non-stereotypical characters I've read about in a novel...

...then comes 'Popco', a cross between Simon Singh and Douglas Coupland. Popco is a book of many facets. It is a sharp critique of mass commercialisation and underhanded advertising, a study of cryptography and code-breaking, interspersed with several very likeable and off-beat characters. Even the format of the novel, which throws in a crossword (and thankfully, the solution to the heroine's treasure hunt), is well-thought out.

It does frustrate me that Thomas is being lumped in with the overblown & overhyped (such as Kate Mosse), or the 'chick-lit' novelists. For what it's worth, anyone who dismisses a novel because the writer is female, and the cover looks a bit wishy-washy, are going to miss out on what is a wry, intriguing, and thought-provoking novel.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By George Kelly on 21 Feb 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The story is this: Alice Butler works for a toy company called PopCo, and has been assigned to a new special elite team who have been instructed to invent, or design, the ultimate product for young girls. And that's it.

In her other novel, The End Of Mr. Y, I found a lot of the scientific facts interesting, albeit sometimes overbearing, but in this novel the facts are all the story has. Instead of science, this time they mainly revolve around maths and cryptography/cryptology. It's as if the author got A's across the board in every subject at school and now she writes novels about whatever subject she's digging at that moment. One novel: science. Another novel: maths. Another novel: French, maybe. Or history. Who knows?

Her other novel worked to an extent, mainly because the facts interested me, but also because it had a plot. This novel is merely a mathematical manual disguised as a novel. It's also a condemnation of corporate companies who dump all over the world to make their millions. And it's preachy. It felt like every pointless scene was there so the main character can have a conversation with someone about how cruel animals are treated before they're slaughtered for our consumption, or how sweatshops are used, or how marketing is a big fraudulent lie perpetrated by all the fat cats, and how prime numbers are blah blah blah. For a while it seemed as if the novel was going somewhere, moving toward a point. Yet, paradoxically (and this word crops up a lot in the novel) this book is merely propaganda about how bad propaganda is. This is an attempt at marketing the evils of marketing. It would almost be ironic if it wasn't so pointless.
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