H(A)PPY by Nicola Barker
Nicola Barker's new novel is somehow altogether chilling and inspiring
Beyond post-apocalyptic, this new novel from Nicola Barker is a textual delight like nothing before. Blending both narrative skills with typographical flourishes in this information age-fueled 12th novel, Barker explores the emotional possibilities in an overtly rationalised society.
H(A)PPY, hailed as a post-apocalyptic Alice in Wonderland, is set in a new world where citizens, known as The Young, exist in an age where desire and doubt have been eradicated and everything, from speech and movement, to thoughts and dreams are measured by The Graph, monitored by The Sensor and modified to suit society by chemicals. The book follows Mira A as she diverts from this regulated virtual reality and embarks on a quiet rebellion of thoughts and feelings.
Barker uses colour from the outset to highlight certain words as they would appear in Mira A’s Information Stream – dangerous, negative, even abstract words – anything that would deviate Mira A from this systematic reality. Her indulgence in such words, feelings and thoughts are broadcast through her stream to everyone around her, letting them know that she is not well, that she poses a threat to herself and others – a virus.
A social media frenzy, a vigorous and enthralling exploration of what may await society in the future, Nicola Barker's H(A)PPY is somehow altogether chilling and inspiring, bringing attention to how dependant we have all become on technology, and how insurgent human will and emotion can be.