Severance is a unique and compelling novel that explores the concept of isolation, identity and the impact of technology on our lives. Written by Ling Ma, it tells the story of Candace Chen, a young Chinese American woman who works as a designer for a publishing company in New York City. As a pandemic sweeps the world, Candace finds herself alone in the city struggling to survive and find meaning in a world that seems to be falling apart.
One of the strengths of this novel is its exploration of the impact of technology on our lives. Candace’s job is to design and produce reference books, which are often used as corporate giveaways. She’s surrounded by technology and constantly connected to her phone, even when it’s not strictly necessary. This issue is highlighted by the pandemic, which is forcing them to confront how technology has enabled or hindered their connections with those around them.
Another strength of the novel is its exploration of identity and the way our experiences shape it. Candace is a complex character with a unique perspective on the world. She is Chinese-American, but doesn’t feel fully connected to either culture. She is also the daughter of immigrants, which further complicates her sense of identity. As the novel progresses, we see Candace grapple with these issues and try to find a sense of belonging in a rapidly changing world.
The novel is also effective in its use of imagery and symbolism. Throughout the book, Ma uses imagery of decay and decay to reflect the collapse of society and the collapse of Candace’s world. This is particularly evident in his descriptions of the abandoned city, where buildings are falling apart and nature is slowly reclaiming spaces that man has abandoned.
A potential weakness of the novel, however, is its slow pace. While the use of imagery and symbols is effective, it can feel repetitive at times, and the plot itself can seem slow moving. Some readers may become impatient with the pace of the book, especially in the first half of the novel.
Overall, Severance is a compelling and thought-provoking novel that offers a unique perspective on isolation, identity, and the impact of technology on our lives. Although he can be slow at times, his ideas and images are powerful and make for an unforgettable reading experience. Ma’s writing is captivating and insightful, and her exploration of complex issues makes this book a valuable contribution to contemporary literature.