A debut novel by Instagram’s first employee about a dating app employee who discovers a glitch that transports him to other worlds.
Once you sign an NDA it’s good for life. Meaning legally, I shouldn’t tell you this story. But I have to.
A college grad with the six-figure debt to prove it, Ethan Block views San Francisco as the place to be. Yet his job at hot new dating app DateDate is a far cry from what he envisioned. Instead of making the world a better place, he reviews flagged photo queues, overworked and stressed out. But that’s about to change.
Reeling from a breakup, Ethan decides to view his algorithmically matched soulmate on DateDate. He overrides the system and clicks on the profile. Then, he disappears. One minute, he’s in a windowless office, and the next, he’s in a field of endless grass, gasping for air. When Ethan snaps back to DateDate HQ, he’s convinced a coding issue caused the blip. Except for anyone to believe him, he’ll need evidence. As Ethan embarks on a wild goose chase, moving from dingy startup think tanks to Silicon Valley’s dominant tech conglomerate, it becomes clear that there’s more to DateDate than meets the eye. With the stakes rising, and a new world at risk, Ethan must choose who―and what―he believes in.
Adventurous and hypertimely, Please Report Your Bug Here is an inventive millennial coming-of-age story, a dark exploration of the corruption now synonymous with Big Tech, and, above all, a testament to the power of human connection in our digital era.
I was not sure what to expect from Please Report Your Bug Here. I have never lived in California. I have no desire to work in tech. And I am not the biggest science fiction reader. Still, I was intrigued by the book’s premise and the back cover’s promises to be an “adrenaline packed debut novel” “perfect for fans of […] Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.“
Please Report Your Bug Here is a debut novel from a tech insider that explores the parallels and interconnections between technology and human relationships. The book reads as a piece of literary fiction, with elements of science fiction or magical realism.
I really enjoyed facets of Please Report Your Bug Here while others I found hard to look past. I had a lot of difficulty getting through the first 100 pages. For me, the story was slow to start and filled with useless details and seemingly personal meditations. I probably focused too much on the portions I disliked since I was bored with what little was happening on the page. The writing was filled with extraneous details like the brand of everything from office chairs to alcohol, not to mention the extreme coffee snobbery. Since the plot was moving at a glacial place, the character’s frequent thoughts felt like things the author had pondered and wanted to show off as something that demonstrated his intelligence, rather than adding useful commentary to the non-existent plot. I was left rolling my eyes and promising never live in California. Once the story became interesting and really started moving, the writing improved and less time was spent describing immaterial details.
The plot took me by surprise. I thought it would end up in one direction and went in a very unexpected one that kept me enthralled until the last page (after it finally got going). I found it both a creative and interesting exploration of the implications of technological advancement on human interactions. I also enjoyed Riedel’s pokes at startup culture and Silicon Valley.
I did think the character development was lacking. Even though this book is a story of growth for the main character, I never understood some of his motivations. The secondary characters were also largely mysteries. I did, however, think it was a good representation of an early twenty-something trying to find himself and how to really be his own person.
Overall, I enjoyed Please Report Your Bug Here. It is a solid debut novel that could have benefited from additional editing to better come together. I appreciated how it made me think about large questions of the modern world, particularly regarding technology and our relationship to it and each other. I would recommend it if you are looking for something a bit different and do not mind a slow start.
Please Report Your Bug Here
January 17, 2023
Note: I received a galley of this book from its publisher, Henry Holt & Company. Regardless, I always provide a fair and honest review.