Global in scope, Amanda Svensson’s hefty novel boasts even heftier themes ... Because she’s a novelist rather than a scientist, her discoveries are carefully planted; and, as you might expect of Ali Smith’s Swedish translator, she is playfully experimental ... For a novel largely concerned with dysfunction, depression and existential despair, A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding is surprisingly funny. LICS is part nightmare, part farce, with Corrigan presiding as both magus and maniac ... There’s much tenderness, too.
The siblings’ rotating stories propel Svensson’s chaotic family saga in all sorts of bizarre and involving directions — it’s almost as if you’re being dared to keep up with it all. A camarilla of crackbrained supporting characters only adds to the bedlam, weaving in and out of the triplets’ respective tales ... The triplets and their mélange of cuckoo birds may be interesting to gape at, but after rumbling along for 500-plus pages their misadventures and, more important, motivations become increasingly opaque, with Svensson hatching a bunch of literary Easter eggs that end up rather scrambled. She welters in thinky asides ... As a result, the siblings themselves eventually seem neither particularly interesting nor complex, but come to resemble the cliché of insufferable millennials absorbed in their own incessant navel gazing ... Buckling up for Svensson’s long, strange trip does prove kind of worth it, however, if for no other reason than to luxuriate in her nitid descriptions.
... brilliant ... a sprawling family epic exploring complex questions about the power of one's mind and the impact of one's choices ... This sharp and expansive novel takes up love, loss, truth and beauty and will challenge readers to decide if they agree when Matilda asserts: 'We're all living in different worlds. It's up to each of us to decide what form that world takes.'
Deft ... Admirable ... Straddles science fiction, whodunit and soapy drama. While all of the main characters are deeply—really deeply—flawed, Svensson has you rooting for them through their highs and lows.
Intelligent ... Even if the lack of resolution is intentional, the length starts to feel wearing. Still, wacky details at Sebastian’s lab—a monkey with a moral compass, a patient who can only see in two dimensions—and the provocative intrigue keep this afloat. It’s fun if exhausting.