You Shall Know Our Velocity [A Review]

You Shall Know Our Velocity

You Shall Know Our Velocity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I finished reading You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers.

The plot follows Will and Hand, two childhood friends who set out on a week-long, around-the-world odyssey, ostensibly to give away a large sum of money. Their adventure includes creating a treasure map for children in Estonia and delivering a bouquet of flowers to a sleeping family in Senegal. Their adventures are comical, and relatable if you’ve ever gone on a trip with not much planning. The results of this journey are unexpected eye-opening experiences and a few disappointments (Morocco looks a little like Arizona). Through all their travels and cash giveaways, the pair are trying to resolve something in their past.

The writing was wonderful, I love Eggers style of prose and the first half of the story was captivating, drawing me in, curious about why Will had the burning desire to give away the money in such an unconventional way.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part was the highlight by far. Wonderful writing and a story with a lot of promise.

But when I read part two, I felt cheap. Everything said in that section made me rethink how I felt about the book. Will is an unreliable narrator which is something I dislike in a book. I like to believe what is being said; otherwise, what’s the point in fiction if it’s lying about something made up?

The book was also filled with urgency! so many unplanned flights, and the money, it’s such an important element in the story, and that gets a little old. Give away money, travel to as many places as possible and just give it away. To people who “need it”! But Will and Hand never explain how they decide who needs the money, it is a giant game to them. Money money, changing checks, exchanging currency. It seemed to me so, mister dollar visits poor countries and gives them a little of what they need, is that really, mister Eggers, all that people really need? And is that, in your opinion all that your story needs?

While this story won’t deter me from reading other works by Eggers because I loved his writing, I will definitely not be recommending this particular novel to anyone.