This year, I’m counting down the 12 books I most enjoyed during 2015. As always, they’re books I read this year but they were not necessarily published this year. But books never go out of fashion so let’s not worry about that.
I really enjoyed Nikesh Shukla’s Meatspace but, if you’d asked me about my top 12 whilst I was in the middle of reading it, it might not have quite made the cut. It’s a very ‘current’ novel, preoccupied as it is with the way we increasingly live our lives online and the dangers of doing so, and admittedly it does this successfully.
Kitab is a writer: ostensibly working on his second novel but, most of the time, working on his online presence instead. His more carefree brother, Aziz, is similarly obsessed with social media and, early in the novel, both brothers uncover their doppelgänger online. But whilst Aziz’s discovery takes him on an adventure across the Atlantic (documented on his trendy blog, naturally), Kitab’s experience is far more sinister, as his only online namesake turns up on his London doorstep from Bangalore, steals his identity and generally behaves in a way that makes you want to immediately delete every social media account you have.
Meatspace is a great read. It is often entertaining and sometimes, when Shukla is at his most incisive, a little too close to the bone to be entirely comfortable. But what eventually elevated this novel from enjoyable and current to one of my top 12 reads this year is an emotional punch in the gut in the last few chapters, a twist that creeps up and then quickly pulls the rug from under you and left me thinking about the story long after the last page.