Discovering the truth behind upcoming New York Times Best Selling novel

Discovering the truth behind upcoming New York Times Best Selling novel

Reading is one of my favorite pastimes and has been for quite some time. As an avid book reader I have been well informed through trial and error of the many challenges that come with finding good books to read. One of the main challenges I have come across is that reviews tend to be very misleading. There are many books out there that have raving reviews and end up being but a mere two stars when actually read. Though I suppose that is because I am very picky in the things I choose to entertain myself with. Which is why I believe that I am the best possible person to be doing this book review. 

On Sept. 8, 2020, a new bestselling book was released titled Anxious People. Now I will admit, the description of the book is quite intriguing. A bank robbery gone wrong, a wide range of hostages who are not who they appear to be; all of course with problems and secrets of their very own. It’s basically a story about stupid, anxious people making unwise choices that they later regret. However, as it is a best selling book I was extremely skeptical. Every best selling book I’ve read so far, aside from a few by Sarah J. Maas, has been a severe disappointment. But as the description and cover were so intriguing, I thought I’d give it a shot. After all, not every book is a dissolution. However, before I do that, I think it is only necessary that I do some research first.

The first place I looked was, of course, the reviews given on a site called Goodreads. There were, as always, many good reviews. Some readers couldn’t even begin to describe how wonderful the book is. However I am well aware that every story has two sides. I took a very long scroll through the more harsh reviews and I must say, they were very entertaining. One reviewer said that “A little kid could have written a better plot than this author.” Now while reading the more exaggerated reviews is most certainly engrossing, I know that reviews right in the middle of the two will give me the most insight into the book and warn me of the more negative aspects it has to offer .

From what I’ve read there were three main problems readers had with this particular novel. First there were too many characters. Goodreads description of the book says there are eight main characters in the story. As someone who enjoys writing in her free time I know how hard it is to keep two characters separate from one another so the fact that there are eight confirmed characters seems a tad bit concerning. The second issue is that its unrealistic. There are police interviews and actions taken by the characters that would never happen in the “real world” as many readers have reported. As it is a fiction novel, I’m not too concerned about that seeing as  in my mind, especially living in the world we do, anything can happen. And the final issue readers had was that it had a strong start but a convoluted ending. I have read many books that start strong and have very intriguing storylines but end up doing too much too quickly and run out of places to go. It is one of the most simple mistakes an author can make. This one point concerns me the most and makes me anxious (pun intended) to read this book. 

The second thing I did was to find out the motives and inspiration for the author to write this book. The creator of this book goes by the name of Fredrik Backman. He is a Swedish writer who lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife and two children. The place he resides appears to be where he drew some of his inspiration from as the setting of the book happens to be a small town outside of Stockholm. He has written several other best sellers including A Man Called Ove which is going to be adapted into a motion picture starring Tom Hanks. His second piece of inspiration comes from his thoughts while looking for a new apartment. According to the New York Times he was thinking about what everyone else who was looking at the exact same apartment was thinking. Every new thought became a new character in his book, a piece of information that I find innovative and relatable. His third motivator was his own struggles with anxiety. As a part time writer and reader myself, I know how difficult it is to write and how anxiety inducing it can be, not only because other writers have voiced their struggles but also because I’m far too anxious to let anyone read my own work . This point has raised my spirits about the book and what it contains. 

Now enough about my research, let’s get into the review! I’ll begin by saying that I love how it was formatted. I loved that random important points were brought up and not fully explained until it was necessary to explain why one of the characters did something and that he explained what they were thinking and why. I also love how the mystery of who was telling the truth and when was extremely engaging. With that being said, I absolutely despise most of the characters. Most, if not all of them, were entitled and egotistical to say the least. They all were insufferable to read about all except for the bank robber who just had a dismal life and wanted another chance. I had to push myself to continue reading after the third character, a twenty year old girl named London who works at a bank with a social media addiction and an entitlement issue, was introduced and it just kept getting worse. Each character was more intolerable than the last and each one made me discover a new level of hatred I didn’t know I possessed. 

While each of them suffered from anxiety in a new and completely realistic way, I fail to see how the actions they took in the book corresponded with the anxiety they suffered from. The twenty year old for example, her anxiety leads her to scroll Instagram and stalk celebrities on the internet because as the book states “ sometimes it’s easier to live with your own anxieties if you know that no one else is happy, either”. but the book also says she has anxiety because she has no real friends or even really a life. It then continues on  in the book to say that she was rude to a bank robber who was robbing the bank she worked at which in the novel was declared as a bad idea in “hindsight” ,excusing her stupidity on the fact that she is miserable. What I fail to see is how having a pathetic life and lacking true friends excuses the fact that you have no common sense? From what I’ve experienced, people who are obsessed with social media tend to have more of it than normal people do. It’s a bank robber. Anyone who has lived 20  years if not less would know not to call a bank robber an idiot. 

As far as storyline and plot goes I found it to be a bit repetitive. Each character was introduced via a police interrogation transcript and then had a flashback as to how they got into the situation in the first place as well as some backstory as to who they are. As I have said before I hated nearly every character in this novel and making every single one of them have the same kind of introduction and attitude really didn’t help matters. However, while this small part of the plot was tedious, I found the rest to be highly engaging. The mystery of who was cohorting with the mystery man and of course the all posing question of who the bank robber actually was definitely put my head in a spin as I tried to piece all the information together. Learning about each character’s backstory helped slightly with my hatred of them as I learned why they are the way they are but in the end didn’t change my overall assessment.

So, did this book prove me wrong? Have I finally found a recommendable best selling novel? I’m sad to say that I have not in fact found one and that this piece of writing has yet again left me discouraged and dissatisfied. While I do think the book was fascinating and highly informative on the different ways anxiety can present itself, I also think it’s enjoyable plot was staggered through the pages and the filler plot in between lacked substance, making it extremely difficult to read. I also believe that the display of anxiety was misleading and inconsistent. The concern of the amount of roles in the book was clearly justified as many if not all of the characters had the same personality traits, and to my disappointment the author missed his opportunity to connect the characters on more than just one level. None of them really seemed to form an attachment with each other and only shared the experience itself, there was no personal or emotional connection between them like you’d see in most books. Lastly I found the description I described earlier to be disingenuous as half the things mentioned in said description never appeared in the book. Overall I give this book a 1 star rating as it clearly could have been so much better and will only recommend this book to the few people in this world who can tolerate reading about such irritating human beings.