I started reading None of This is Serious the morning after a night out and the hangxiety was real. This book was not only the perfect distraction – I literally couldn’t stop reading it, but it turned out that it was pretty fitting too for my hungover feeling right then.
I didn’t realise before I started it but None of This is Serious looks at themes of social anxiety and how it hard it is to navigate the real verses digital world. To be honest, it was a comfort to have a lead character more neurotic than I was feeling at the time.
Opening sentence: The taxi splashes water over the pavement as it pulls up to the the house.
A lot of themes at play
In None of this is Serious we meet Sophie. A 22-year-old University graduate who is job hunting, living at home with her parents in Dublin, feels more at ease in the cyber world than the real one and is more than a little lost. She spends an inordinate amount of time online – she has a true addiction:
I refresh the feed every minute and continue to consume, growing fat. I’m like a vampire, leeching off the content of other people’s lives.
Another, slightly more random plot element is a huge crack in the sky that emits a purple glow. It can be seen all around the world and no-one knows what it is. I liked this and thought it worked well as a slightly different way to give commentary on the pandemic. Catherine Prasifka has said that she started to write this book before lockdown and finished it during – so she may well have conceived her the crack idea pre-pandemic, but it spoke to me in that way.
The Fall of the House of Usher reference was a nice way to add more to the general feeling of unease about modern life too:
I can’t help but stare at the crack, and think it’s what we deserve. The whole world is fractured.
Gaslighting and manipulation
Sophie is a complex character who has too many feelings that she can’t express verbally. She can tweet a version of them, but this, as we know, is not the healthiest outlet.
As the story develops, we learn that Sophie is trapped in more than a few toxic relationships. She has Hannah, her gaslighting twin, Finn, a friend who sleeps with her but doesn’t date her and Rory, her new love interest who she primarily communicates with online.
In the second half of the book I was so livid and heartbroken for Sophie. There is a sexual abuse storyline that really captures the anger of so many discussions I’ve had with my friends.
None of this is Serious is not always an easy read but I binged it. If you’ve ever been in a toxic relationship, or are a woman who has been on the receiving end of any kind of sexual harassment, or ever used social media to drown out reality, or ever felt alone and confuse about your place in the world, you’ll resonate.
If I can’t think thoughts for myself, at least I can consume those of others, and regurgitate them if anyone asks.
I appreciate I haven’t sold this as the cheeriest read but it is brilliant and so relevant. This is the debut novel from Irish author Catherine Prasifka and aside from the obvious Naoise Dolan and Sally Rooney (who is actually her sister-in-law) comparisons, None of This is Serious also reminded me of other clever, cutting, nuanced and insanely-readable novels by Irish women that cover coming of age, alienation and identity themes.
Personally, all these stories resonate with me and I really enjoy their niche genre. None of This is Serious is a wonderful addition to the group.
- Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC;
- Get your copy of None of This is Serious here;
- Published by Canongate 7th April 2022;
- 304 pages;
- My rating: