Want to make a novel feel current, but not too current? Set it roughly ten years in the past before the rise of smartphones, Facebook and Twitter. What you’re left with is a world that’s both familiar yet far enough removed to feel periodic.
Before Halifax and his best friend Mickey Montauk go their separate ways – Hal to graduate school in Boston and Mickey to the front lines of the second Iraq war – they vow to stay in touch, making sure their friendship does not suffer due to the distance. The duo creates a Wikipedia page dedicated to their epic parties thrown in Seattle. Throughout the story, the authors insert screenshots of the fictional Wikipedia page as both Hal and Mickey edit it during their time apart.
I received a free copy from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.
Robinson and Kovite juxtapose the irrelevant first world problems of Hal against the daily life of Mickey as he fights a brutal and vicious war abroad. Despite the uneven gravity of each friend’s situation, they work well with one another. When Mickey’s wartime experiences get too intense, there’s a deflating period when the narrative shifts back to Hal.
Both Hal and Mickey are genuinely likeable characters and although I wouldn’t say I’m as self absorbed as Hal, but I found him to be the one I identified with the most. War of Encyclopaedists was a nice break from what I normally read and one that I recommend.