Logging Off by Nick Spalding
Length: 314 pages
Recommended reader age: Adult
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing, 2020
About the author:
Nick Spalding is an English author originally from the Isle of Wight who started writing fiction as a way to counteract his job in media and marketing. Over 2 million copies later it is fair to say he cracked it.
Read more about his books at nickspalding.com
Andy Bellows: Currently addicted to his smartphone, tablet and the internet in general and starting to experience alarming physical symptoms of the stress it induces.
Fergus Brailsworth: Andy’s best friend of 4 years and a journalist with an incredible aptitude for getting people to tell their stories.
Grace: A coffee shop owner who is inspired by Andy to do a detox of technology too and together they step out of their comfort zone.
Plot summary, spoiler free I promise:
The novel starts with our introduction to Andy Bellows and the extend to which he relies on his phone for every little thing, including ordering all his food and tracking bowel movements. With his insomnia, anxiety and neck pain rapidly worsening, and one nasty but hilarious case of lockjaw, it is clear something isn’t right. One quick trip to Dr Google later (and a trip to the actual doctor) the course of action is made clear, Andy needs a complete detox from technology.
The story follows Andy as he tries to navigate, literally and figuratively, the 21st century without the ease of a smartphone, a feat not helped by Fergus making his story hit the headlines, and introducing an eccentric bunch of technophiles to his life. A factor that both helps and hinders his progress.
I am a huge fan of Nick Spalding after reading a few of his previous books and so had high hopes for this one, and true to form he did not disappoint.
Right from the start the author showcases his ability to blend humour into everyday situations while still creating incredibly relatable characters, believable events and tactfully discussing difficult topics. The characters too are real enough to be familiar, yet unique, and all are important to the plot and overall message within the book. They all bring different view points and pasts yet without fail support each other and show what can be achieved with love, care and just the right amount of pressure to get things going.
This book also brilliantly showcases how social media is simply the highlight reel of peoples lives, and also how Photoshop, the ability to buy followers and people’s tendency to lie means that really nothing you see online is real. As someone who is fairly passionate about encouraging people to step away from social media for their mental health, it was great to see this reflected in someone else’s writing, especially as comedy is likely to spread the message far further than I can.
The author also perfectly captured both addiction and withdrawal (in this case to technology) as well as social anxiety and isolation. The blending of comedy, sensible advice and a fair few profound moments make the message held within this book both accessible and fun.
After reading this I really am tempted to try a technology detox, but unfortunately I feel my blog will die a sad death if I am unable to promote new post via social media, and I have just reached level 1241 on Candy Crush… Jokes aside this novel truly made me reassess how I use my phone, as well as making me laugh the whole way through.
I recommend this book to anyone looking for a laugh, or anyone looking for a different perspective on life lived through smartphones and social media.
“My kitchen looks like several war zones have been through it, on their way to the pub. The linguine thing wasn’t exceptionally hard in terms of the actual ingredients, but cooking crab is roughly as hard as performing brain surgery with boxing gloves on.”