There is no doubt that The Subject Steve is a clever and apposite creation. It is totally absurdist, which is both its gift and its curse. The absurdity of the characters and story serve its comic impact, but they also leave you detached from the story.
The book deals with the modern fad for naming everything a `syndrome', even if there is no symptom and the subject is in fine fettle; it deals with ambition and venal desire for recognition, even for made-up work; it deals with the loneliness of modern life, nuclear families and lack of community; it deals with the soul-sapping mundaneness of modern work; it deals with the deep-seated desire for spiritual enlightenment and quick fixes; it deals with the gullibility of the public and the commercialization of science; it deals with exploitative "reality" TV and psychobabble. In short, it deals with important issues and does so with a comic touch, which is often far more powerful than a dull, worthy lecture. The writing style is pithy and articulate. The dialogue between characters is witty and there are truly funny passages in the book. All of this points to a winner of a novel. Sadly, I was never fully engaged with the book. Although it is a short read, it felt too long, as if the vehicle for these ideas just wasn't strong enough to see them through. The novel just fell a little short for me, although I have to admire the ambition and motivation behind the book.