Title: Still Here
Author: Lara Vapnyar
Genre: General Fiction
Publisher: Hogarth, Crown Publishing (2 Aug 2016)
Blurb: In her warm, absorbing and keenly observed new novel, Lara Vapnyar follows the intertwined lives of four immigrants in New York City as they grapple with love and tumult, the challenges of a new home, and the absurdities of the digital age.
Vica, Vadik, Sergey and Regina met in Russia in their school days, but remained in touch and now have very different American lives. Sergey cycles through jobs as an analyst, hoping his idea for an app will finally bring him success. His wife Vica, a medical technician struggling to keep her family afloat, hungers for a better life. Sergey’s former girlfriend Regina, once a famous translator is married to a wealthy startup owner, spends her days at home grieving over a recent loss. Sergey’s best friend Vadik, a programmer ever in search of perfection, keeps trying on different women and different neighbourhoods, all while pining for the one who got away.
As Sergey develops his app—calling it “Virtual Grave,” a program to preserve a person’s online presence after death—a formidable debate begins in the group, spurring questions about the changing perception of death in the modern world and the future of our virtual selves. How do our online personas define us in our daily lives, and what will they say about us when we’re gone?
Goodreads Rating: 3.53/5 stars
“People die. They don’t do it on purpose and they don’t do it for somebody else.”
Still Here tells the story of the lives of four immigrants living in the US, each one of them living a different version of The American Life. If I had to describe their relationship in one word, I’d choose ‘complicated’. Before they met, Vica and Vadik were together while Regina and Sergey were a thing. Then they met, Vica and Sergey experienced love at first sight and proceeded to dump their partners for each other. Nevertheless, the four stayed friends throughout the years.
To be honest, this book disappointed me. The one thing that made me interested in this book was the Virtual Grave app. I was hoping for something to happen that involved the app, maybe some paranormal stuff, but to my dismay, the app wasn’t even fully developed at the end of the book! Needless to say, the book had lost its appeal because of this.
I found the story lacking in plot. Nothing much was happening in the book, the plot progression was pretty much non-existent.
Also, can we talk about the scene where Sergey got a hard-on from listening to the GPS in the tone of an Icelandic woman? What was that? And what was the whole point of that scene?
Oh, and Virtual Will, this app where dead people’s accounts continue to post neutral feedback to their friends and family’s posts? Creepiest shit I’ve ever heard of. I really hope nobody makes it a thing.
All in all, it was a boring read and I finished the book mourning the loss of a potentially good paranormal novel.
I was sent an ARC upon request via Blogging For Books in exchange for a review. Special thanks to Blogging For Books, NetGalley, Crown Publishing and Lara Vapnyar. This is my honest review.