Opening sentence: “Iris first heard about life on Nyx on a freezing winter’s night.”
If you were offered the opportunity to live on another planet, that is ‘a genuine alternative to life on Earth’ would you take it? That is what Everything You Ever Wanted asks. There is a caveat though… you can’t ever come back to Earth.
27-year-old Londoner, Iris Cohen has been battling depression her whole life and is at a low point when she applies to move to Nyx, a planet that is habitable, but still being developed. On it, people live in a mass commune, can’t go outside (atmosphere issues) and their lives are live-streamed for people back on Earth. But there is no money, no stress and everyone focuses on being happy. Iris feels this is all better than her life on Earth now – even worth sacrificing communication with her loved ones.
She is the most surprised when she actually gains a coveted place to live on the planet. Her story is told from Nyx in the present day and flashes back to her life on Earth; revealing her relationships with her friends and family and the things that happened to make her want to move to another planet. Forever.
In many ways, Everything You Ever Wanted was a mass of contradictions, both in Iris’ character and how the whole book made me feel. Iris wants to be alone, yet agrees to go to Nyx which is essentially a reality TV show, although she does justify this: ‘The idea of the live stream has always been a comfort to Iris, the way God must be to other people.’ She hates her job in digital content creation, yet takes on the role of posting social media updates about life on Nyx. But she is confused and complex, so this could be highlighting that part of her.
I really enjoyed this book all through the read – the contemporary tone, its witty and often cutting observations, the unusual plot, Iris’ interesting character – UNTIL it got to the last few chapters… Put it this way: initially I was both shocked and annoyed by Iris’ conclusion, then on reflection, I loved the layers it created and all the possible things the story may actually have been alluding to.
Everything You Ever Wanted made me laugh out loud in places, but was actually one of the most harrowing books I’ve read in a long time. And it’s this juxtaposition that means it will stick in my mind. It was also sold to me by its great narrator, Stephanie Racine, her voice reminded me of Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Always a good thing.
This book is really worth a read, let me know if you have read it!