Denied a dog, a baby, and even a faithful fiancé, Cat suddenly craves a snake: a glistening, writhing creature that can be worn like "jewelry, living jewelry" to match her black jeans. But when the budding social media star promptly loses the young "Burmie" she buys from a local pet store, she inadvertently sets in motion a chain of increasingly dire and outrageous events that comes to threaten her very survival.
Boyle is vague about environmental damage as the story begins, more or less in the present ... Human beings’ dogged capacity to endure is one of Boyle’s central themes, but this does not, in his depiction, necessarily make them admirable ... Disasters are depicted with an expert blend of suspense, terror and, occasionally, very black humor ... Boyle shows us the infrastructure of modern civilization disintegrating in tandem with the natural environment we have thoughtlessly plundered and polluted ... This fiercely honest writer shows us what he sees and invites his readers to draw their own conclusions.
Something of a return to the themes of A Friend of the Earth, but with a twist (and, alas, to lesser effect) ... Smug characters ... Boyle’s entertaining if somewhat bloodless novel circles around an affluent Santa Barbara family ... There are some trademark Boyle tropes here, including unexpected death and transgressive sex ... Mildly amusing. Boyle does it well here, but he’s done it better before.
The characters navigate a series of escalating ecological disasters ... Boyle’s tone grows increasingly elegiac, or perhaps only more satirical ... Less a novel about what might be done about the climate crisis and more an accomplished family drama with a climate-crisis setting ... Boyle doesn’t offer his own clear answer. Maybe he doesn’t need to.