Saturday, July 05, 2008
58. "PopCo" - Scarlett Thomas
This book has been raved about at the Bookslut site, and we typically share the same taste in quirky novels. While my first experience with Scarlett Thomas didn't go well, PopCo intrigued me enough to push me through.
Alice Butler is a practically orphaned girl who grew up with her mathematically-inclined, code-cracking grandparents. A special code is imprinted on a locket that she still wears, years later, as a 30-odd-year-old idea-creator for PopCo, a leading toy manufacturer.
Alice is selected to be part of the elite team at PopCo that is creating the next big thing in the teenage girl market. If you have been stuck in the academic world for the majority of your life, you won't appreciate this novel. Personally, as a former PR goody two-shoes and marketing guru, I loved this fresh take on the manipulation of minds.
Frankly, I think Thomas should have taken all of her research and gone on the road, shelling out marketing seminars for thousands of dollars a PopCo (ouch, that pun hurt). With a husband who teaches marketing, along with my own experience, I knew a lot of the examples that she gave, so I didn't enjoy that as much as others would. However, the mind-fizzing work of mathematics twisted the story enough to keep it interesting without overwhelming me into flashbacks of my hippie algebra teacher slamming his hand on my desk and shouting, "Are you an acid trip?"
The end disappointed me, but the ride was fun. I think I'm done with Scarlett Thomas novels, though, because in the end, each seems a bit preachy.
3.0 out of 5.0 Astro Pops.