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The Heap

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  58 reviews
“As intellectually playful as the best of Thomas Pynchon and as sardonically warm as the best of Kurt Vonnegut, The Heap is both a hilarious send-up of life under late capitalism and a moving exploration of the peculiar loneliness of the early 21st century. A masterful and humane gem of a novel.”

— Shaun Hamill, author of A Cosmology of Monsters

Blending the dark humor of
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by William Morrow
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Average rating 3.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  201 ratings  ·  58 reviews

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Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Personally, I loved this book. Loved it enough that I read it twice, the second time intentionally slow, because I wanted to give it a decent yet fair review.

This is a novel, that won't be for everyone across the board, and I believe most readers will either love it or hate it. Sean Adams has used satire (might I add successfully) as the basis for telling this creative character driven storyline. Satire, like sarcasm is not for everyone. I love it, however you may hate it. It doesn't make either
Amber J
Jan 05, 2020 marked it as dnf
I was given a free ARC copy in exchange for my honest review. I try to express only my most honest opinion in a spoiler free way. If you feel anything in my review is a spoiler and is not already hidden in spoiler brackets please let me know. Thank you.

Did not finish at 43%. I really tried to get into this one. Really. And maybe it got better, but after almost half of the book, I no longer had any interest in finding out. Honestly the book was just boring. Nothing was really happening. The

Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight .


So, this book went in a very different direction that I assumed it would. To be fair, I don't necessarily always have any decent grasp on where I think things are headed, so we won't hold that againstThe Heap.But I feel like it's worth mentioning, anyway. I guess I assumed, based on the technical prowess of Los Verticalés, that we were going to be in some kind of future setting
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Rating: 8.0/10

Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of The Heap in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this ARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.

The Heap is a character-driven, immensely satirical, and wholly original debut that had me thumbing through pages quicker than ConductionSens shovels can alert you to live electrical currents. Adams uses a mix of present-day storytelling and pre-collapse glimpses of life in the Vert to provide a
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I really enjoyed this one. It is a unique slow mover, with plenty of time for twists and digging into the characters.
Chris S.
Dec 23, 2019 rated it liked it
This was overall a decent book, but it had so much potential that went unrealized. The scenario was neat, but the first act was long and Orville, one of the main characters, just seemed kind of bland. And I'm not against bland characters, but they have to have something interesting about them, even in their blandness, that makes them an interesting person to share a literary journey with.

That being said, the weirdness was delectable. A mega-skyscraper where people live as in a city? That's got
Eric Ballein
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
A wonderful first novel that is biting in it's satire and humanity. I read a blurb that compared Adam's writing to Pynchon's, which I initially scoffed at, but this novel is reminiscent of The Crying of Lot 49 while still retaining it's own unique voice. I'll definitely be purchasing any future work by Sean Adams.
Brittany S
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
NOTE: I won this arc as part of a goodreads giveaway. It in no means influences my review.

The premise of this book, which pulled me in, was also what left me a bit disappointed. The characters' development throughout left me wanting a bit more. Orville had the most development, with the other characters, especially the secondary characters like Terrence and the boss, coming off as mere filler. My favorite parts of the book were the random chapters marked from the earlier years that gave you a
It is fitting that a book essentially about questions of identity vs community, (self-imposed) isolation, social hierarchies, the basic emptiness of modern endeavors, and actualizing thought experiments would itself embody elements of self-smug satire, confusing approaches to the human element, a blend of writing tricks that almost but do not quite work together, and ultimately even a sort of confusion about its own goals. Is this a scathing review of society? A love letter to the modern life? A ...more
Joelle Egan
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-thing
The Heap by Sean Adams is recalls the type of winking political and societal satire presented in works by Vonnegut and Pyncheon, or in the film “Brazil” by Terry Gilliam. Adam’s novel wittily reflects the mindlessness and vapidity of our modern age within an alternative universe controlled by a corrupt bureaucracy that takes advantage of people’s worst tendencies. The story is simple but unusual- Orville is a man searching for his brother among the ruins of a collapsed building. “Los Verticalés” ...more
Gary Schroeder
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
Picked it up based on a recommendation in the NY Times Book Review. Seemed like an interesting premise: a small community dedicated to salvaging the remains of a gargantuan housing experiment gone wrong--Los Verticales, a utopian self-contained, 200-floor society that collapsed because of poor engineering. "Seemed like" is the operative phrase. Without ruining the plot for you, it's less a book about the failed vertical city and more about a wacky plot by commercial forces to buy ad time to sell ...more
Boris Feldman
Jan 10, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unable-to-finish
A heap of words.
Dec 24, 2019 marked it as dnf
I won this via goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own.

Another one that isn't my cup of tea unfortunately:(
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it
#7/52 2020 books. Really more like 2.5 stars. The book had excellent symbolic potential, serving as a metaphor for American capitalism and the numerous faults that seem destined to lead to its collapse. The problem was, the story and the characters all felt dull and flat; the novel read like a short story that had been awkwardly expanded into something longer, with unnecessary, undeveloped characters and pointless inclusion of even the most mundane things added simply to pad the page count and ...more
Feb 03, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi

I don't know . . . I was excited when I picked it up. It sounded really cool, but it never did anything. The stuff about the apartment complex before it fell was the most interesting, but it was so disjointed that it ended up adding nothing to the story.

Before getting too far, it really just became this guys denunciation of the world. Capitalism is the problem, woman are perfect, blah. blah. blah. Not even done creatively, but slapped in the reader's face in the first two-dozen pages.

Dec 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaway-winner
This book is interesting in its creativity, but lacking in the emotions and information which would have brought it to life. The story starts after a gigantic city-skyscraper has collapsed and people are digging through the rubble to find valuables and people, living or dead. Interspersed with the present storyline are short snippets of life inside the skyscraper prior to its collapse which i would have loved to read more about.

The story contains several facets: brothers searching for each
Feb 02, 2020 rated it did not like it
Orville, Hans and Lydia have volunteered to search through the rubble of a failed experiment in city planning. A radio broadcast has brought them together in this dig effort, but is there a villainous plot acting behind the scenes? The characterizations are poorly represented and the story weaves around too many obstacles. It left me feeling bewildered and disconnected. The author introduces characters and then gives them no place or a place of no importance. That’s my opinion. You may see it ...more
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Heap by Sean Adams is a highly recommended dystopian novel chronicling the rise, fall, and recovery effort of a massive high rise complex.

Los Verticalés was a massive high rise housing complex in the desert. Towering nearly 500 stories tall, the complex collapsed into what is called "the Heap," a pile of rubble covering 20 acres. A community of Dig Hands now live nearby in CamperTown. In exchange for digging gear, a rehabilitated bicycle, a tiny trailer, and a small living stipend, Dig Hands
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was intrigued when I heard about this one! A first novel featuring a kooky scenario: a huge community in a giant skyscraper called Los Verticalés -- five hundred stories tall in the middle of a desert. It takes neighbors a twenty minute walk to visit other oddly placed neighbors. The outer residents are higher class than the inner residents (it's the windows). Then one dayLos Verticalés collapses and everyone seems gone - floor crushing floor, until Orville hears his brother over the radio, ...more
Daniel Cuthbert
If Orville had his way, he would prefer to spend his days in peace digging to find his brother Bernard, trapped in the rubble and the sole survivor of a collapsed super-scraper known as Los Verticales, as fast as possible. The only fleeting contact Orville has with him is when he is able to call each day into Bernard's radio show, whose somehow able to broadcast even when his whole world has collapsed around him. These interactions have turned them both into enjoying a kind of quasi-celebrity ...more
Jan 27, 2020 added it
Shelves: arc, fiction
The Heap has an absolutely fantastic premise-an entire city in one building (flashback to SImCity arcologies) that's now a pile of rubble. What happened to make it collapse? Will Orville, the protagonist, be able to rescue his brother, the one known survivor trapped in the titular heap?

Unfortunately the execution just didn't work for me. While the blurb already revealed the story would take place in the rubble of "The Vert," I was hoping for some glimpses of life inside this massive structure.
Bartley Sharkey
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sci-fi
I started reading this book in the flight from Singapore to London as we made our first trip back home since moving there. The nice thing about getting stuck in during a 14 hour flight is that it's quite an easy read, written in plain language, that effortlessly transports you to a different place, where life has been redefined and the people within the setting of the book have evolved to be creatures of their environment, adjusting their existence based on whether they live in an interior or ...more
Jan 25, 2020 rated it did not like it
I could see where this book was going immediately after reading the blurb. That isn't always a problem-sometimes the fun is getting there. But there are so many things Sean Adams ignores that he could have explored further in the novel, and he doesn't. This book feels as if it's trying to delve into too many conversations, and just ends up being a vague comment on all of them, with some predictable plot thrown in. The writing is conversational and easy to consume, leaving plot and theme open to ...more
Heather Warner
A very original and very strange book! It’s a story about a 500+ floor condo tower in the desert that collapses killing all but one inhabitant, Bernard. Bernard is buried in “the Heap” (as the Dig Hands call the collapsed tower) and is managing to broadcast on his radio equipment to the world (he was the radio DJ of Los Verticales). Orville, Bernard’s brother, works as a Dig Hand hoping to recover his brother. He speaks with his brother by phone every day. If that isn’t bizarre enough, there is ...more
Dec 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I won this ARC in a Goodreads giveaway. This is the first thing I've read by the author.

It's really more like a 3.5 stars from my standpoint. The pacing of the book is a slow build where you actually get a chance to like the characters. As the book progresses the pacing picks up. The flow of the book was really great and nothing seemed to be extraneous information. There is some good humor scatter throughout the book but for the most part I would classify it as dystopian and a bit cyberpunkish
Kathleen Gray
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
This has an interesting concept- a community of people digging out the remains of a 500 story building - Los Verticales- which has collapsed in the desert. One of them, Orville, is trying to get to his brother Bernard who is improbably broadcasting from underneath the heap. Interspersed in the "present" day are chapters about the people who lived in there. There are issues of class, privilege, and so on which could have been more deeply examined (and characters, including, btw, Orville and ...more
Olivia Sims
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
I did not love this. It was just fine. I'm sure it will be some people's thing, but I had to force myself to finish it.

Despite some of the crazy circumstances and the ridiculousness of the evil voice actors, it was just kinda slow. All of the things that were so wild about the situation were treated so mundanely that they stopped being interesting to me. Even the mysteries couldn't hold me. The plot twists just... weren't. The characters seemed to be missing the obvious nefariousness just by
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a book is about the aftermath of a collapse of a huge residential condominium. It has an unusual plot with some interesting twists that would seem to make an engaging read but somehow it all comes across a bit flat. The characters seem awkward, the sardonic humor doesn't come off for me and I never felt that I cared much for what was happening. The most interesting part were the brief descriptions of actual life in the complex before the building fell. I kept thinking that this is an ...more
Dec 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Rating: 3.5

This wasn’t a bad book by any means, but it wasn’t amazing either. I think would’ve fathered a short tv series based on the material. I really enjoyed the humor, and the story was decent. The setting and the ideas behind Los Verticales was just ok. It actually didn’t feel terribly important to the actual story. The brief likened it to Black Mirror, but it felt more like a simple brutish comedy.

It was a fun read, with some twists and turns but ultimately wasn’t all that memorable. That
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
I want to call the plot silly - it's a compliment. It felt a little post apocalyptic without the whole world ending stuff. Instead it is just a society living in a 500 story building. Have and have-nots like any other society forming their own strange culture with their own strange customs. The society collapses (literally) and what is left is a small village looking for purpose in the ruins and folklore. Like digging out the radio DJ broadcasting from somewhere under the rubble that NOBODY ...more
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