The funniest thing about this book is that it is funny. The oddball others in the secret facility, Haley freezing at the idea of any choice, her obese and aggravating kid brother and the ways in which divorce, depression and disaster can all be weaponised make this a skewed comedy of manners — as if The Good Life had been rewritten by George A. Romero.
What, apart from curiosity, makes the reading-on irresistible is the narrative voice. All novels, I often think, stand or fall by the narrative voice, whether first or third person. Here it belongs to Haley and it is wonderful. There are faint echoes of Salinger’s Holden Caulfield, classic voice of teenage uncertainties, but Haley, anxious (for good reason), puzzled, angry, loving, ironic, is entirely herself, and entrancing. Her narrative is undercut or intertwined with passages from Ed’s “Manual for Survival” and her own “How To...” guidelines for anyone who has survived the pandemic to learn from. In short, Haley is a triumph and because the voice is right, the novel is right.