I can understand that some would give up after the first couple of pages — it's a pretty weird, possibly juvenile, introduction to the story.
But it turns out to be surprisingly similar to the last book I read, Zendegi: a well-thought-out investigation into what it means to be human. Zendegi asked the question, "what can you remove from a human, and have the result still be human. The Gone-Away World asks "If you start with something undeniably non-human, what does it take to make it human?".
Along the way, Harkaway points out how corporate mentality strips one's humanity — and why it's inevitable.
Recently I got into an argument about The Road
, when somebody told me "It is a great book because it's literature" — a self-fulfilling prophecy if I ever saw one — and that literature and popular fiction are different things. Well, this book is clearly intended to be "popular", yet by the definition given in that thread, it must be literature. I just call it a darn good read.