Jennifer Egan scored big with "A Visit from the Goon Squad," her unconventional nonlinear story collection that won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award. She returned in 2022 with "The Candy House," which continues the stories of many of the characters introduced in "Goon Squad."

As in the first novel, Egan uses a variety of styles to tell her stories. She switches from first person to omniscient narrator and back. Although she employs nothing as radical as telling a story through Power Point slides (as she did in her earlier book), she does employ some unconventional narrative technique. In one story, a woman on an espionage mission recalls her training (told in the second person) in real time, as she faces situations that require specific training messages. She relates another story entirely via emails between the characters.

While her earlier novel focused on the characters surrounding music executive Lou Kline, this one is more thematic, exploring the role of sharing and oversharing with others through a powerful social network. It explores everything from understanding how others felt about us to the surrender of privacy to the government's weaponization of the technology. Bix Bouton - a minor character in "Goon Squad" - invents "Own Your Unconscious" - a technology that allows users to upload their memories for preservation and to anonymously access the recorded memories of others. This invention changes the world.

Egan expertly foreshadows many of the story’s events. A conversation at a cocktail party about recording the thoughts of pets inspires Bix to create "Own Your Unconscious." And the above-mentioned spy mention leads to PTSD years later.

Keeping straight all the characters and their relationships is a challenge, but that is part of the fun of this book. The children and siblings of characters introduced in "Goon Squad" receive their own stories here. Some of the connections are subtle. Miranda Kline, the reclusive anthropologist on which much of Bix's "Own Your Unconscious" is built, is Mindy, the young woman who accompanied her lover and future husband Lou Kline on an African safari in "Goon Squad." It is these connections that make the book fascinating and (sometimes) difficult to follow.

"The Candy House" is a book I can see myself reading again.