PopCo ~ Scarlett Thomas
By: Fatima Makki
This book revolves around the character of Alice Butler. She works in a massive toy corporation, the third largest one in the world, and works as a ‘creative’, thinking up new, cool toys for pre-teen kids, most of which revolve around code-breaking and spy-kits, etc. Her company, PopCo, sends off a select group of the employees to a secluded sprawling residence owned by their enigmatic CEO, Mac. Their mission is to remain at the residence until they come up with a brand new blockbuster product. As time goes by, we begin to learn a lot about Alice’s past, about her fascinating grandparents’ history as cryptanalyst (code-maker) and mathematician, and events at the residence start to unfold which show that PopCo’s shiny, colorful exterior belies the darker machinations that lie beneath.
Personal Opinion: I absolutely love this book. As I got towards the final part of the book, I found myself reading faster and more frequently, whilst at the same time making a conscious effort to slow down because I didn’t want the book to end! That to me is always the sign of a great book. This is my third book by the Scarlett Thomas, and she has definitely not failed my expectations.
There are so many layers to this book it’s very difficult to pinpoint just one thing I love about it: the flashbacks to Butler’s childhood are poignant and explain a lot about what has shaped her personality; there is a lot to learn in this book about mathematics, code-breaking and code-making, obscure information about WWII,
and so much more, there’s a sub-plot involving buried pirate treasure, there’s some romance thrown in. I mean really, this book has it all! I still have one or two unanswered questions regarding some of the storyline, but that is more than compensated for by the author’s brilliant story-telling and all the wonderful twists and turns. As well as being highly entertaining, it is equally thought-provoking.
My rating: 10/10
Recommendation: Since the main character is a woman (and a fascinating one at that), I would think that the book would resonate more with women, especially young girls, as this book can almost be described as a coming of age story of a modern woman. It’s a good way of explaining morality to young teenage girls without being too preachy. But on the other hand, all the code-breaking, espionage, and pirate tales are stereotypically masculine hobbies. Basically, I’d give this to teens or young adults. If you like a good mystery, and food for thought, this is for you!