BOOK REVIEW: Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler

3/5 stars

It’s almost hard to talk about the experience of realising Joe Biden won the election–of course I was happy, but it also dredged up memories of the last election result. The night of the 2016 results started on a high, sitting in a friend’s dorm watching the returns, armed with celebratory alcohol and an unshakeable feeling that Hillary was going to win. The night took a dark turn fast, and for weeks afterwards the entire world felt like it was in a haze. All I could do was shuffle to class, pet a professor’s dog, try not to lose myself in a spiral of worry. Fake Accounts attempts to capture that era of panic and fear, but unfortunately, it’s a narrative that starts to lose itself in what sort of story it wants to tell.

The unnamed female narrator discovers that her boyfriend, Felix, is secretly an Internet conspiracy theorist figurehead in the days following Trump’s election, and she resolves to break up with him after she returns from the Women’s March. But before she can, Felix dies in a freak accident and she decides to move to Berlin, where she and Felix first met.

I wanted to like this book, and admittedly, Oyler is a talented writer and there are lots of bits I enjoyed. But Fake Accounts ultimately feels unfinished, unsure if it wants to be a book about Trump, a book about fake news, a book about identity, a book about being an American abroad, a book about complacent white women, a book about the German immigration system… you get the idea.

Much of the book focuses on the narrator’s experiences trawling dating apps, trying on different personas with different men, an intriguing premise that still doesn’t do much. The descriptions of Berlin are atmospheric and lovely–I’m longing for travel so badly, it was a welcome addition–but the narrator evoked no real empathy from me. She’s an (ostensibly) white woman living a life of privilege in a foreign city, without much effort to learn the language, integrate with locals, or understand the culture that surrounds her. There’s no growth and no even real sense of commentary on how this sort of complacency can have negative consequences.

At the very least, I’m grateful to be reading this in a post-Trump era, even if it will forever be marred by the effects of that administration. But right now, I just want to move forward.

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And no matter where you are in the world, Blackwell’s is a great independent option with international shipping and competitive prices.

www.blackwells.co.uk

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