... a slim book with a lot going on ... I was reminded of Ben Lerner. Stevens loves technicality; her sentences are cleverly playful, finding use for words such as 'horripilation' and 'glabrous', and she frequently draws attention to grammatical terms and forms ... droll and also poignant – symptomatic of Stevens’s voice. I admire her warmth, which doesn’t always flow through these kinds of self-referential sentences, and I enjoyed how The Visitors does its own maximal thing ... There’s a verve and craziness to all this, but the book is also pained, and sympathetic to those who experience pain, which is everybody ... I’m not sure I was with them through every turned, information-loaded sentence. I’m not sure whether Stevens intended me to be, or whether these 'long-winded lectures' are just part of the ride. The book accepts, and even delights in, the strenuous absurdity of its characters’ efforts to index the relationship between the virtual and the material, or to locate the source of reality in imagination.
Disaster has a...abstract, consciously literary shape in Jessi Jezewska Stevens’s novel The Visitors ... Collapse is Ms. Stevens’s murmured theme ... The Visitors addresses it subjects through a blurry, somewhat hypnotic dance of symbols and signifiers. Ms. Stevens operates mostly by way of vague implications. Recurrent motifs such as looms and rainbows and Rubik’s Cubes are offered up—I suppose to suggest analogous codes and networks—but never developed. The gnome is mysterious largely because it’s given so little to do—something invented, it seems, in order to be ignored ... Obstinately sketchy and draft-like, a degree removed from whatever vivid thing the author must have imagined for it.
Be prepared to shrug it off, along with subsequent similar interventions, and get on with the story, assuming that it will all eventually make sense ... It sort of does ... 'Is it possible to imagine something so fully that it takes on a life of its own? So many systems run only on belief.' It's possible that a novel, like this one, does, too.
Stevens’s version of events peels away from fact like forlorn wallpaper ... Even as the characters grapple with revolutionary possibilities, the novel’s stylistic choices suggest an author entranced by the language of power. Stevens mistakes the manufactured obscurity of our financial system as profundity, diminishing the emotional truths of her characters by relying on metaphors of market capitalism to explain their inner worlds. The reader is left alienated instead of moved or galvanized ... Symbolic to a fault ... Stevens hesitates to step outside of the inherited framework, even in an effort to repurpose its dialect. The alternatives to the status quo are presented primarily as self-destructive.
Mordantly funny ... The odd touch of magic does nothing to diminish the story’s uneasy relevance to the contemporary state of affairs. Fans of such paranoia masters as DeLillo and Pynchon should give this a look.