Mike Dickenson’s ‘IQ84’ is a timely satire on American values and culture. Written in the style of a humorous pulp thriller, it captures the banality, self-obsession, materialism and superficiality that characterise the USA for so many of us who live in the rest of the world.
The recent populist backlash against the establishment that has unfortunately placed an arrogant and ill-informed narcissist in command of the most powerful economy on Earth makes this book particularly well-timed.
If there’s an aspect I’d criticise, it’s the deep cultural references, many of which were lost on me. But that’s probably my problem: I’ve never been as fascinated or absorbed by US culture as so many of my contemporaries seem to be, so I don’t immerse myself in American films, TV or books.
The premise is brilliant, but, as with all books that use humour, there will be readers who don’t get it, and others who will absolutely love it. The novel is populated with a diverse cast of characters, all representing various classes and types. What struck me most keenly was the depiction of official stupidity and rigidity, as well as the corruption that stems from a society seemingly so deeply mired in consumerism.
It’s a clever book and won’t suit all readers. But those with an interest in politics will most probably enjoy this tale. It has some important things to say and does so in a style that will definitely appeal to many readers.