[Doten] launches Trump Sky Alpha at the bull’s eye of reality with such velocity that it bursts through the other side. This is speculative fiction as burning ring of fire ... The beginning is outrageous fantasy but reads like transcription. Doten channels Trump’s verbal tics and rhetorical poverty so perfectly it’s chilling ... Perversely satisfying, this tour de force of vicious satire is cathartic ... The stress of outperforming realism in works of speculative fiction sometimes risks a dangerous rise in the literary mercury. Both [Doten's novel, and the novel within the story] suffer from an overreliance on facsimile screenshots and voiceyness ... Dizzy with metaphor, Trump Sky Alpha is a cautionary tale for a time when we have become inured to flashing yellow all around.
But for all the skewed touches Doten uses here — Trump’s zeppelin, a sort of aerial Mar-a-Lago, chief among them — he also channels the brusqueness of the president’s Twitter feed into a vivid literary depiction. And this is indeed a novel where Twitter personas don’t just matter: They are, in fact, at the heart of this heady work’s thematic concerns ... Fundamentally, this is a long and thrilling meditation on information and disinformation, on personas and the elusiveness of truth. In Trump Sky Alpha, this is the way the world ends: not with a bang, but with a meme.
... as I started reading, the book scared me. Its Trump character is so realistic and its social commentary so spot on that I couldn’t shake the feeling that its plot doesn’t seem very farfetched ... Did I mention the book was funny? When characters aren’t getting holes drilled into their heads or dying of radiation poisoning, when journalists aren’t being imprisoned for reporting on the truth, it can be hilarious ... The novel is not, however, an easy read. Reflecting the fragmentation of our culture, it moves around in time, in point of view, and in form. It can be gruesome and relentless ... But Trump Sky Alpha is more than social commentary... What makes this novel eloquent and urgent are its human elements...
Doten combines a genius for fictive architecture with dazzling prose, all of it wrapped around a novel of ideas that never stops dancing from one question to the next. Satirically pyrotechnic and brilliantly formed, Trump Sky Alpha has a musical quality both on a line-to-line basis and in terms of narrative structure; a quality that, in the end, leaves the reader feeling a little like he’s listening to a sort of swan song for civilization, the world’s last symphony, if you will. I’ll leave it to others to debate whether Doten belongs on some best-of list. What I can say, without a doubt, is that Trump Sky Alpha is indeed a great literary novel, one that deserves to stand alongside the best work of writers like Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon.
... a bizarre chimera that cobbles together adventure story, torture porn, cautionary manifesto, sociopolitical satire, magazine interview, and metafiction ... Trump Sky Alpha succeeds more in the realm of the pre-, rather than the post-, apocalyptic ... Doten does his best to eke drama out of chapters that describe little more than someone sitting at a computer looking stuff up, which can at times reach comedic proportions ... This heavily researched and referential approach can deliver polymathic thrills; other passages read like gussied-up Wikipedia entries ... The best parts of Doten’s book evince his talent for perverse, imaginative flights of fancy—the twenty-first century as a horrifying cartoon ... Trump Sky Alpha... can seem straightforward and subdued, despite its experimental flourishes ... But Trump Sky Alpha’s momentum keeps getting stymied by digressions into hacker culture and noodling theories about how the rise of the internet paved the road to hell, some of which read like the world’s driest bumper stickers...
Unlike the would-be 'disruptors' of the tech world, Trump Sky Alpha proves genuinely disruptive literature, taking readers on an often violent and unsettling ride, told in a form that feels as fluid and ever-shifting as Internet culture itself. Doten draws ample influence from his science-fiction forbearers, particularly cyberpunk icons such as William Gibson and Neal Stephenson, but by setting his novel only a year or two from our present time, Doten removes the sometimes-reassuring barrier of genre and presents us with a novel that is uncomfortably and hideously now.
Doten’s Trump Sky Alpha offers savage black humor and immersion in psychosis ... Like no other book I’ve read, it captures the simultaneity of hilarity and horror you get on the nightly news these days. But it’s not for the faint of heart! ... Admitting how close that world is to ours increases the crushing force of the moment when the (once again) mysterious collapse of the internet leads somehow to Trump starting a nuclear war in rageaholic spite ... The reader will find a certain balance of reward and frustration in the quest for story—a balance that might be accepted as the cost of daring to approach these multiple hearts of darkness.
Doten gives Rachel enough backstory with her family to make her a sympathetic character, but she is primarily an agent of the plot and window on the Internet ... Doten’s villain 'Birdcrash' sounds like... part profound in his analysis of Internet economics, part silly in his proposed replacement of the Internet with birds like carrier pigeons, a little tedious in his repetitions, and wholly crazed in his drilling (literally) into Rachel’s skull to change her brain ... I realize that [the comparisons to Coover, Pynchon, and DeLillo] may seem to diminish Doten’s achievement, but I use these eminent novelists as a critical shorthand to describe and emphasize that achievement ... Trump Sky Alpha is jagged ... I’m not crazy about every part of the patchwork. Some of the sci-fi and detective conventions are tired (even when mocked) ... Trump Sky Alpha will be a much-appreciated and long-remembered introduction to a young novelist worthy of comparison to those twentieth-century old masters of American politics and literary forms.
[A] subversive, searing indictment of our political era ... what Doten uncovers with this novel is the always pulsating anxieties that fuel our current existence, both online and off, and the ways in which we use irreverence and cynicism as armor against what we know is largely an uncaring world.
[An] unconventional and darkly satirical mix of memes, Twitter jokes, Q&As, and tightly written stream-of-consciousness passages ... Doten’s speculative tale is very strange and chilling, subversive and surreal, and disturbingly relevant.
Takes all the author’s previously demonstrated predilections for skewing popular culture and dials it up to 11 ... an underground-flavored conspiracy thriller involving an obscure novel that inspires a true-life hacktivist group called the Aviary to take down the world that’s left. The main narrative is seeded with fragments, memes, and pop-culture narratives, but the story that emerges is horrifying ... imaginatively political and experientially gross ... An acid satire that might have been funnier in sunnier times.
A blistering and heartbreaking satire ... a dystopian nightmare, a cyber thriller, a spot-on treatise on memes, and a tragic tale of love and loss ... Featuring a disturbing not-so-distant future, Doten’s novel is haunting, incisive, and surprisingly touching.