Essentially, this novel is comprised of a mixture of two elements: 1) a near-future dystopian setting and, 2) a cheesy love story. I picked up this book mostly because I was interested in the crazy sci-fi elements, but it was the two main characters and their relationship that actually won me over.
Shteyngart throws us into a world where all the most absurd elements of our culture are amplified to a piercing howl – China basically owns the US and everyone shares every single last thing about their superficial, youth-obsessed selves using various facebook-esque technologies. All of this is, I suppose, intended to be intensely humorous. But it all falls totally flat.
However, at the center of the novel is Lenny Abramov, an ugly, book-loving schlub in his late-30s who can’t for the life of him fit into this ludicrous, ludicrous world. He meets Eunice Park, the damaged daughter of Korean immigrants, who is much, much younger and much, much better looking than he is. He falls for her immediately and, though it takes a while, she somehow eventually falls for him too.
And it all ends horribly, and absurdly, and it turns out that Schteyngart is pretty good at breaking your heart. I came to really care about these characters, but I could never bring myself to become interested in the world in which they live.