12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
One for the boys?,
This review is from: Atomised (Paperback)
I found this to be a pretty bleak, depressing, and difficult novel to read. It is written from a perpective of 70 years or so in the future, looking back on the lives of two half-brothers through the second half of the 20th century. Both men struggle to establish meaningful relationships with their peers, especially with women, and with each other. Both have been brought up by a different grandmother,having been abandoned by their parents. Houellebecq uses their dysfunctionality to examine the society in which they live - post-religious, sexually liberal, materialist - and finds it greatly wanting. Discussing science and philosophy in this context, with frequent references to French culture, Houellebecq's fictional world was, to me, opaque and obscure. Much of it went right over my head. Houellebecq's futuristic premise is that early 21st century society undergoes a 'metaphysical mutation', entering into a Huxleyan brave new world, but one which, due to the sociological and scientific changes that have taken place since Brave New World was written, offers a genuine utopia, rather then the dystopia that Huxley envisaged. I can't decide whether this is intended to be ironic or not. Is Houellebecq suggesting that humanity will, after all, ignore Huxley's warning and go down the path of genetically manufacturing its future? He spends 350 pages discussing the hopelessness of love, and the destructiveness of desire, finally making both redundant. The novel, on the face of it, celebrates this redundancy, but is Houellebecq actually warning us that the alternative to our painful, emotional lives is a sterile, cloned existence, and inviting us to choose?? Perhaps.
This is a relentlessly masculine novel, and one that, though compelling, I really didn't enjoy.