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Happy Family

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  28 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Set in the near future, Happy Family is a darkly humorous tale about the filters and frames we use to shield ourselves from reality, and what might happen should we discard them.

Germaine Kiecke was a foundling, an orphan, brought up by the infamous ‘Motherhood’ in a Belgian orphanage. Now she is a successful art academic who defines herself by her profession and prefers to
Published February 6th 2020 by Unbound Digital
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Part essay on existentialism and defining art, part sci-fi exploration of the future of gaming and – occasionally – part farce, James Ellis’s Happy Family is as enjoyably thought-provoking a read as I’ve had for a while. The author skips easily between deft description of the real and augmented reality worlds. Most of the real-world action takes place in Galicia in the North of Spain and if the author hasn’t been there it’s a miracle of imagination, instead of just high-quality writing, the sens ...more
Veronika Jordan
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I absolutely loved this book. It's quirky and original with some brilliant characters - all of whom are either eccentric, sad or totally bonkers. I admit that the gaming side was tiresome, at times silly - salamanders?? - and often unnecessary, but other than that it's one of my favourite books that I have read with the Pigeonhole. Tom, artist and inventor of the computer game Happy Family, has never quite got over his mother's death and goes to Spain to become a recluse. What's the point in liv ...more
Shelagh Wadman
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the first book I have read by James Ellis and I was not disappointed. I was lucky enough to read Happy Family on the Pigeonhole in 10 staves with other Pigeons. I found the storytelling brilliant and the detailed descriptions of the characters, not only how they look but also their characteristics, help the reader to imagine the situations they get themselves in! I actually laughed out loud on several occasions whilst reading. A very modern storyline. Thank you Pigeonhole and James Ellis ...more
Charlotte Pattison-Rideout
Refreshingly different; utterly bonkers and my brain is still trying to work out what was going on. Wonderfully poetic descriptive passages throughout which brought me immense pleasure. Some genuinely laugh out loud moments and an array of eccentric characters. Glad I persevered.
Lynn Brown
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was an absolute joy to read. The writing is exceptional and the scene setting ensured I felt right there in the action. A little bit like the virtual reality game that gives the name to the book "Happy Family".

For the author to create a virtual future world as he has, I think, shows a remarkable imagination. It's not an alternative world such as Terry Pratchett might write, but a parallel virtual world to our own accessed through the user wearing new technology called iLets.

Alongside a
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is James second novel and there is crossover between this story and his first. However despite that, the story can be enjoyed as a stand alone.
This book is quirky, inventive, hilarious and sad. I found this to be a story about loneliness, jealousy, grief and love. It has you questioning reality and as we move further into the technological era and we become intertwined with CGI, virtual reality and immersive gaming experiences. You will wonder what is real and what is not!
Lel Budge
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Well where do I start?

Tom is in crisis, he wonders what is the point of life if you then just die.? Why bother?

He drinks to near oblivion most nights and tries to kill himself. He is saved by Alta and her dog, Badger. She decides to move in with Tom to keep an eye on him.

Tom is the creator of Happy Family, an augmented reality game, think The Sims on steroids!!! Nearly everyone is playing, to augment their own lives…..

This is a tale of loneliness and vulnerability but also hope-ish. It’s also a
Dale Melita
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
not often you read or hear originality anymore but happy family is a very original novel filled with lots of eccentric and intriguing characters and silliness, but also thought provoking🤔and definitely opens your mind, I could see this book made into a Netflix series one day!
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Definitely weird, a gloomy start, but a really enjoyable mix of tech and alternate realities.
Joana (Miss Known)
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Content Warning: Death and suicide.

Going into this book, I had a lot of expectations. A book filled with games, virtual adventures, and the game at risk of shutting down forever, basically another book like Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, but I was completely wrong. And I’m glad I was! Happy Family takes a completely different path focusing on the impact the game has on someone’s life instead of the actual game-play.

Happy Family is a virtual reality game that combines The Sims with dark twists
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Happy Family is set in the near future, where people game via glasses and one augmented reality game in particular is very popular: Happy Family. This game was invented by Tom Hannah, also an artist, who has hidden himself away with his suicidal thoughts in Spain in the middle of nowhere, after the death of his mother. Germaine Kiecke, an art academic, is a huge fan of Tom’s and wants to interview him for her new book. But Tom is guarded by a strange girl and three huge dogs who are named after ...more
Claire (c.isfor.claire_reads)
Real life, virtual life, plots and sub-plots.

Germaine is a gamer and we see her living a parallel virtual world alongside her real life. She uses the Happy Family game to escape from real life.

The main storyline is set in a Spanish village and we follow Germaine in her efforts to secure an interview with the creator of Happy Family for her book on the arts.

In a world of gaming, in which I know absolutely nothing about, I'm finding this book both quirky and humorous. It brims with quirky characte
Jessica Hinton
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it
On the face of it, this is a book about virtual reality, but actually that only makes up a really small part of this story. What it's really about, is what defines us as people. Tom Hannah has dedicated his life to his art, the very art that lies behind the 'Happy Family' game. But he's decided that he no longer wants to be defined by this. And so we begin on an odyssey of a story when Germaine, determined to get a final interview with Hannah, travels to see him, whether he wants to meet with he ...more
Susan Bailey
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book quite like this one. At times it seemed utterly bonkers and I’m still not entirely sure if it was fantasy, reality or a clever merging of the two. That said, I really enjoyed it; the poignancy of the descriptive writing was simply beautiful and the author managed to introduce us to a variety of complex, needy and often unlikeable characters whilst at the same time making us laugh out loud with the absurdity of their actions and speech as well as allowing us to ...more
Georgina Jayne
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of the most inventive books I have read. Beautiful descriptive writing, intriguing plot, slap stick comedy, pathos and thoughourly bonkers!
Gail Danks
Oct 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Irritating book with too much technical gaming stuff in it
Interesting story line but too much of the book dedicated to a game
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: läst-2019
This was a different read for me. Quite funny and hitech. This book is going to be published in February 2020, I read it in Pigeonhole.
Pasi Kupiainen
rated it really liked it
Dec 17, 2019
Tiff Nield
rated it it was amazing
Feb 12, 2020
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Mar 13, 2020
rated it liked it
Nov 01, 2019
Christina Williams
rated it liked it
Mar 31, 2020
Book Dragon
rated it it was ok
Oct 21, 2019
rated it it was amazing
Feb 08, 2020
Couch Potato
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Apr 29, 2020
rated it it was ok
Oct 22, 2019
rated it liked it
Jan 14, 2020
Matt Jackson
rated it it was amazing
Aug 11, 2020
Elaine Noble
marked it as to-read
Oct 19, 2019
Amy Shearwani
marked it as to-read
Oct 19, 2019
added it
Oct 24, 2019
marked it as to-read
Feb 02, 2020
Ben Gourley
is currently reading it
Feb 04, 2020
Sophie Jackson
marked it as to-read
Apr 13, 2020
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Goodreads Librari...: Merge and associate books with the author 3 9 Oct 25, 2019 04:13AM  

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James has written two novels: The Wrong Story and Happy Family. He has published a number of prize-winning short stories, a travelogue of his journey through Central America and a monthly column for The Gudgeon. His short story, Connor and His Amazing Ejector Boots, was nominated for the 2020 Pushcart Prize. His short story, Kumi’s Cake, was shortlisted for the 2020 Bridport Short Story Prize.

He h

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