Rachel's Reviews > Severance

Severance by Ling  Ma
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2018, tob-2019, dystopia, humor-satire, nyc

There are a lot of elements from Severance that we've all seen before - the global pandemic which brings an abrupt halt to civilization as we know it, the few survivors trying to forge ahead in the absence of a structured society, the juxtaposition of before and after narratives. But the similarities to Station Eleven or Bird Box end there, because what Ling Ma does with Severance is fuse the post-apocalyptic survival genre with anti-capitalist satire, and it works almost startlingly well.

Both wry and meditative, Severance offers a positively haunting commentary on corporate greed and what that means for the individual, and that awful paradox of being trapped inside a system that you feel guilty having any part of. The fictional Shen Fever was pretty awful; rather than offering a quick death it would essentially turn people into zombies who performed rote tasks ad infinitum - it's heavy-handed but it works - but the most horrifying part of this novel was probably how much of the directionless millennial narrative resonated, and the amount of decisions these characters had to make at the detriment of their happiness just to survive, both before and after.

I did think the book's structure could have been more cohesive as a whole, and I felt like Ling Ma didn't really know what she wanted to do with the ending, but ultimately I loved this strong and unexpected debut. I can't wait to see what Ling Ma does next.
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Reading Progress

November 1, 2018 – Shelved
November 1, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
December 17, 2018 – Started Reading
December 17, 2018 – Shelved as: 2018
December 17, 2018 – Shelved as: tob-2019
December 19, 2018 –
December 21, 2018 – Shelved as: dystopia
December 21, 2018 – Shelved as: humor-satire
December 21, 2018 – Finished Reading
January 16, 2019 – Shelved as: nyc

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by Abbyforth (new)

Abbyforth Not to mention.....pink!

Rachel Abbyforth wrote: "Not to mention.....pink!"

This is the wrong shade I'm more into magenta :/

Trudie Great ! I think you have convinced me to try this

Rachel Trudie wrote: "Great ! I think you have convinced me to try this"

Yessss do!!! It's such a quick read, too.

message 5: by Claire (new) - added it

Claire Awesome I’m definitely going to try this too

Rachel Claire wrote: "Awesome I’m definitely going to try this too"

Yay!! I really wish it had made the TOB shortlist :(

message 7: by Tammy (new)

Tammy Wonderful review, Rachel. This is something that wouldn’t have hit my radar

Rachel Tammy wrote: "Wonderful review, Rachel. This is something that wouldn’t have hit my radar"

Glad to hear that, I hope you enjoy it!

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