Reviews for Uncanny Valley, by Anna Wiener

kwitshadie's review
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informative reflective slow-paced

4.0

alyssa's review
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3.0

I’m of many minds about this book. On one hand, I thought the writing was good, and it was definitely thought-provoking (it makes me want to write a series of essays about what I think about many of these topics). On another hand, the author’s experience in SF appears to have been really different from mine, so I found much of this story unrelatable. There were several anecdotes and details that struck me as unfair overgeneralizations, which I think weakened the other critiques (sexism, racism, housing prices and cost of living, weird-ass libertarian billionaire politics, etc) which *are* problems. On a third hand, I had some unanswered questions at the end: why does the author still live here? I know she has a boyfriend, but did she make close platonic friends (not Patrick) in SF? How? Why are those relationships meaningful, if they are at all?

So I am torn on this: the writing and amount it made me think makes me want to give it 4 stars, but the actual content and narrative didn’t resonate, so we settle on 3 stars and a recommendation that you read it and we get a beer and chat about it.

alissamauti's review
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funny reflective medium-paced

subdue_provide75's review
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dark funny informative reflective sad

4.0

krisreadseverything's review
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4.0

This was a very solid memoir about the author's disillusion of Silicon Valley. It was a fascinating read, that had a few pacing issues. Overall, very enjoyable!

sarae94's review
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3.0

Very interesting perspective and a pretty damning review of the tech world but I just felt like it was missing something

beyondepilogue's review
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3.0

It was a quick read, but, ultimately, I don't feel like I learned anything new from this book about the ego-centric and cultish world of Silicon Valley's startup culture. This could have easily just been a longer magazine piece.

hannahbzuber's review
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emotional informative reflective medium-paced

4.0

CarolineVA's review
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informative reflective slow-paced

3.5


Expand filter menu Collapse filter menu Content Warnings

Moderate: Sexism

RachelR's review
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2.0

DNF'ing this at about 40%. The audiobook was an easy listen, but I have the same problem with this book that many of the other reviewers have: it doesn't have anything to say. The premise is great, but the execution lets it down.

I found the lack of names for companies and people frustrating and disconnecting – especially when it was obvious what the author was referring to. For example, she'll say things like "the online superstore" when it's clear she means Amazon, or "the venture capitalists", or "the CEO". Rarely is anything actually named, and after a point this becomes frustrating because it feels purposefully, and unnecessarily, vague. I presume this might have been done to avoid being sued, but it made the entire book feel detached from the industry it was trying to shed light on.

In general, I didn't find the author's tone or voice to be particularly likeable. It's quite lofty and superior. On top of that, the entire book reads as an exploration of the more privileged classes. There were so many moments that had me shaking my head at the first-world problems these people were facing in their daily lives (problems that don't really warrant an entire memoir). At one point (and I'm paraphrasing a bit) the author says that money is a salve, not a solution. This is coming from someone who is being paid an awful lot of money, who complains about things like feeling left out of conversations. I didn't find these problems relatable at all. The issues the author tries to explore feel like non-issues. There were parts that had promise, like how data is used without the customer realising it, or the lack of women in tech, but these were only briefly touched upon, and it was back to first-world problems again.

To sum up, it just feels like reading the diary of a bunch of privileged, incredibly wealthy people struggling with things that many people just aren't going to be able to identify with at all. I certainly didn't. That isn't to say there's anything wrong with reading memoirs by people who are wealthy or who have made a lot of money – but the tone was just completely off in this book. It was too superior, too filled with ego and a refusal to acknowledge that privilege, which made it hard to stomach or connect with.

Another reviewer mentioned that this book is out of touch, and I have to agree. Sadly, it was so out of touch for me that I couldn't finish it.

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