Sometimes I really feel like I’m the only person who didn’t particularly care for A Visit From the Goon Squad. Mind you, it’s not a terrible book, in fact it was a perfectly pleasant way to pass a Saturday afternoon, but I was really surprised that it got so many accolades and so much hype. To me, it was the literary equivalent of watching a Sex and the City marathon: enjoyable but fluffy. The book was neither clever nor as emotionally hard hitting as I was expecting. In my opinion, Egan was trying too hard to be funny and darkly emotional without ever really achieving it and instead coming across as gimmick-y (50 pages of power point slides!). The characters also seemed really one-dimensional and unlikable in a boring way. Skippy Dies on the other hand was hilarious, satirical, clever, engaging and complex in a way that A Visit From the Goon Squad was not. It was an epic adventure that also similarly spread the story between several narrators but in a much more successful fashion because the characters were all much more full-bodied and interesting. Murray’s prose seemed so effortless compared to Egan’s somewhat clunky, forced words.
To Doerr’s credit, he seemed to enjoy both books immensely but for him Goon Squad seemed more relevant to his life at that moment. This is actually a pretty interesting point, because I feel that if I had read Goon Squad even a year ago, I probably would have loved it too. As I’ve been progressing as a reader however, I find myself enjoying less linear, more creative novels that are much more intricate and epic (Think The Instructions or Catch-22), where I feel Skippy Dies could be classified as well. I absolutely know I’ll be voting for it in the Zombie Round. Thoughts?