Book Review: The Echo Chamber by John Boyne

About the Book:

From the author of The Heart’s Invisible Furies and powered with Boyne’s characteristic humour and razor-sharp observation, The Echo Chamber is a satiric helter skelter, a dizzying downward spiral of action and consequence, poised somewhere between farce, absurdity and oblivion.

What a thing of wonder a mobile phone is. Six ounces of metal, glass and plastic, fashioned into a sleek, shiny, precious object. At once, a gateway to other worlds – and a treacherous weapon in the hands of the unwary, the unwitting, the inept.

The Cleverley family live a gilded life, little realising how precarious their privilege is, just one tweet away from disaster. George, the patriarch, is a stalwart of television interviewing, a ‘national treasure’ (his words), his wife Beverley, a celebrated novelist (although not as celebrated as she would like), and their children, Nelson, Elizabeth, Achilles, various degrees of catastrophe waiting to happen.

Together they will go on a journey of discovery through the Hogarthian jungle of the modern living where past presumptions count for nothing and carefully curated reputations can be destroyed in an instant. Along the way they will learn how volatile, how outraged, how unforgiving the world can be when you step from the proscribed path.

To err is maybe to be human but to really foul things up you only need a phone.

Published by Penguin Random House Australia – Doubleday

Released 3rd August 2021

My Thoughts:

This novel was brilliant. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much whilst reading a book. This is clever humour, heavy on the pop culture and political references, and so in tune with the pulse of society as it is today. The Cleverley family were absurdly magnetic, the loop of six degrees of separation bouncing between them and the extra cast of characters was hilarious and really reinforced just what a small world it can be in certain circumstances, particularly when are you are up to no good or just simply making a spectacle of yourself.

There are layers of funny to this novel that make it incredibly erudite. If you’re at all oversensitive about your phone usage and/or your social media interactions, this is not the novel for you. Nor is it suitable for keyboard warriors or those who indulge in outrage for the mere sake of simply being permanently and vocally outraged. For everyone else, it’s an excellent novel and you should absolutely read it and weep – with tears of laughter. Honestly, it’s just the best. To say anything more might lead me down the same path as the Cleverley’s. And if you want to know how that worked out, you’ll just have to read the book.

Spanning five days, the novel is broken up into five parts, each prefaced with a familial memory of the Cleverley’s from bygone days timed in sync with key developments of social media platforms. I liked this, a lot, the representation of their unravelling as a family unit as more social media platforms became available. Definitely thought provoking! And that very last scene, where Beverley Cleverley (I know, that name!) notes the subject of George’s 800 page biography – gold! What a perfect way to end a brilliant novel.


Thanks to the publisher for the copy.

11 thoughts on “Book Review: The Echo Chamber by John Boyne

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