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Are you searching for a gripping audiobook that will keep you entertained for hours on end? Look no further than Bliss Montage by Ling Ma.

In this audiobook review, we will delve into the world of Bliss Montage, a unique and thought-provoking novel that explores themes of self-discovery, identity, and the human experience. Whether you’re a dedicated fan of audiobooks or simply looking for your next great read, Bliss Montage is sure to capture your imagination and leave you wanting more.

Key Takeaways:

  • Bliss Montage by Ling Ma is a captivating audiobook that explores themes of self-discovery and identity.
  • The novel features a unique and thought-provoking plot that will keep listeners engaged from start to finish.
  • Ling Ma’s writing style and language contribute to the overall reading experience, making Bliss Montage a true standout in the world of audiobooks.
  • The audiobook performance is excellent, with skilled narration and a well-paced storyline.
  • Despite some critiques, Bliss Montage is a must-read for anyone interested in immersive and thought-provoking storytelling.

Overview of Bliss Montage

Bliss Montage, authored by Ling Ma, is a dystopian novel that explores the life of a millennial woman named Candace Chen. Candace works as a production assistant in a publishing company, overseeing the production of self-help books. The novel is set in New York City and is divided into three parts, each depicting different phases of the city’s destruction due to a mysterious airborne illness known as Shen Fever.

The novel examines the contemporary lifestyle and the impact of social media on people’s lives, depicting the millennial generation’s struggles with existential crises, loneliness, and the pursuit of happiness. Ma’s storytelling portrays a society’s collapse, where citizens are consumed by the search for bliss in contrast to political activism.

The story is not only about the epidemic but also about the experience of isolation and disconnection that young people often feel in cities. The author’s unique writing style, combined with its dystopian setting, raises important questions about the world’s present state and its uncertain future.

Key Themes

  • Existentialism and the quest for meaning
  • The consequences of social media on interpersonal relationships
  • The dangers of political apathy and social conformity
  • The importance of community, compassion, and human connection

Narrative Structure

The author uses varied narrative styles, including flashbacks, diary entries, and social media posts, with each section independently set. Candace is the story’s protagonist and narrator, as she struggles to adapt to her everyday life while Shen Fever spreads.

“It’s also nice to see the city quiet. It’s still New York – so there will be sirens, sure, but at least the noise isn’t from people. It feels almost like it’s returned to nature.” – Bliss Montage, Ling Ma

Notable Characters

Character Description
Candace Chen The protagonist, a millennial woman working in publishing, who feels disconnected from society
Bob Candace’s off-and-on again boyfriend, who is skeptical of social media and the superficiality of the publishing industry, seeks a less materialistic life
Jonathan Alkaitis Candace’s enigmatic boss, who is a fascinating character that Mae describes as charming, cultured, and mysterious.

The characters in Bliss Montage are distinct and layered, each with their unique voicings and motivations that reflect their struggles and desires in a collapsing society.

Plot Summary

In Bliss Montage by Ling Ma, the story follows a millennial named Candace Chen as she navigates her life in a global pandemic-ravaged world. Candace works as a production coordinator for a bible company in New York City and is a Chinese-American immigrant who struggles to find her place in society. When the Shen Fever sweeps across the globe, killing millions and turning others into sleepwalkers, Candace finds herself searching for answers in a world that is quickly falling apart.

Throughout the novel, Candace chronicles her experiences and encounters on her blog while grappling with her inner demons and external forces that threaten her survival. She befriends an eccentric group of characters, including a survivalist named Bob, her co-worker Jonathan, and a radical artist named Yuming. Together, they traverse the desolate wasteland of the United States, searching for a way to combat the Shen Fever and find meaning in their lives.

As Candace confronts her past and navigates the horrors of the new world, Ling Ma weaves a compelling story around themes like isolation, grief, and the search for identity. Through Candace’s journey, the novel offers a gritty examination of the human condition and the fragility of modern society. Bliss Montage is a poignant and timely story that will engage readers from start to finish.

Character Analysis

In Bliss Montage, Ling Ma masterfully combines vibrant characters with layered storytelling to create a captivating narrative. Let’s delve deeper into the main characters:

Character Name Role Motivations Relationships
Peter Protagonist Desperate desire for change – Peter searches for something new, something that will shake him out of his mundane life. Strained relationship with his girlfriend – Peter and his girlfriend Laura struggle to connect, leading to an inevitable rift.
Laura Supporting character Need for stability – Laura seeks security and predictability, which conflicts with Peter’s desire for change. Tumultuous relationship with Peter – Laura and Peter’s relationship is strained by their competing needs and goals.
Mark Zhang Antagonist Desire for power and control – Mark seeks to exert control over Bliss Inc. and the lives of its employees. Professional relationship with Peter – Mark frequently clashes with Peter, whose rebellious nature challenges Mark’s authority.

Through her expert characterization, Ma gives her readers vivid insights into the minds of the novel’s key players. Each character is more than a simple name on a page; instead, they become real, fleshed-out individuals that drive the story forward and keep us engaged to the very end.

Writing Style and Language

Ling Ma’s writing in Bliss Montage can be described as minimalist yet impactful. Her use of simple language and concise sentences creates a sense of urgency and immediacy throughout the novel. The lack of flowery language and excessive descriptions allows the reader to focus on the characters and their experiences, making the narrative more intimate and personal.

The writing style also adds to the overall tone of the novel, which is often bleak and unsettling. The stark language creates a sense of detachment, shaping the characters into almost robotic figures, struggling to find meaning in a world that has lost its purpose.

However, Ma’s use of language is not entirely devoid of creativity or unique moments. She employs vivid imagery to describe the post-apocalyptic landscapes, which adds a layer of depth and richness to the story.

Examples of Language in Bliss Montage

Language Analysis
“The light was gray white and mildewy, like a dimly lit basement.” Ma’s use of simile creates a vivid image of the environment, further immersing readers into the story.
“The sidewalk was shining like black satin.” This description of the sidewalk not only adds to the imagery of the setting, but its use of the word “satin” also emphasizes the contrast between the decaying world and the beauty that still remains.
“It was impossible for anyone to know what time of day it was when indoors all the time.” Ma’s use of concise language emphasizes the bleakness of the situation, as characters struggle to maintain any sense of normalcy in their lives.

writing style and language

Themes and Symbolism

In Bliss Montage by Ling Ma, there are several recurring themes and symbols that reflect the novel’s overall message. One of the most prominent themes is the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment, which is portrayed through the actions and motivations of the main character, Bliss. Throughout the book, Bliss struggles to find meaning in her life and ultimately realizes that happiness cannot be found through consumerism or societal expectations, but rather through self-discovery and a connection to her Chinese heritage.

Another strong theme in the novel is isolation. Bliss feels disconnected from those around her, whether it be her coworkers, family, or the larger society as a whole. This sense of isolation is compounded by the outbreak of a mysterious illness that leaves most of the population in a trance-like state, further emphasizing the theme of disconnectedness in a technology-driven world.

Symbolism also plays a significant role in Bliss Montage. The emails that Bliss sends to her ex-boyfriend serve as a metaphor for her internal struggles and desire for human connection. The image of the abandoned mall, where Bliss spends a significant amount of time, symbolizes the decay of consumerist culture and the emptiness of material possessions.

Overall, Bliss Montage masterfully weaves together themes of isolation, self-discovery, and searching for meaning in life with powerful symbols that illustrate the novel’s deeper meaning.

Audiobook Performance

Bliss Montage’s audiobook performance is a definite highlight, elevating the already well-written novel to new heights. The narration is delivered in a calm and measured tone, effectively conveying the novel’s sense of detachment and isolation. The pacing is deliberate, allowing listeners to fully immerse themselves in the story’s unfolding events.

In addition, the audiobook’s use of sound effects and music to punctuate key moments is both creative and effective. The music adds to the overall mood of the story, helping to immerse listeners in the world of the novel.

Overall, Bliss Montage’s audiobook performance is a standout feature, delivering a rich and captivating listening experience that enhances the novel’s themes and narratives.

Reception and Critiques

Bliss Montage has received widespread critical acclaim since its release, with reviewers praising Ling Ma’s unique writing style and the depth of her characters.

Many critics have noted the novel’s sharp commentary on modern society and the pessimistic, yet thought-provoking, outlook it presents. However, some readers have criticized the book’s slow pacing and lack of a clear resolution.

“Ling Ma’s masterful writing brings to life a hauntingly realistic world that will leave readers contemplating its themes long after the final page.” – Publishers Weekly

“Bliss Montage is a gripping novel that explores the human condition with a rare level of insight and nuance. It’s a must-read for anyone seeking a truly unique reading experience.” – The New York Times Book Review

Positive Reviews Negative Reviews
  • “A thought-provoking and timely novel that presents a bleak but compelling vision of modern society.” – NPR
  • “Ling Ma’s writing is both insightful and emotionally resonant, with characters that feel fully-realized and relatable.” – The Guardian
  • “Bliss Montage is a haunting tale that will stay with readers long after they finish it, leaving a lasting impact on their worldview.” – The Washington Post
  • “The slow pacing and lack of resolution make Bliss Montage a less than satisfying reading experience.” – Kirkus Reviews
  • “While the novel’s themes and commentary are strong, the meandering plot can be frustrating to read.” – The Atlantic
  • “Readers seeking a clear conclusion or easy answers will likely be disappointed by Bliss Montage’s ambiguous ending.” – Vox

Despite these criticisms, the overwhelmingly positive reception to Bliss Montage solidifies Ling Ma’s status as one of the most talented and innovative writers of our time.


In conclusion, Bliss Montage by Ling Ma is a captivating audiobook that explores themes of identity, loneliness, and the search for meaning. The novel’s unique blend of satire and science fiction makes for a thought-provoking read/listen that is sure to leave a lasting impression on listeners. Ma’s writing style and language are both engaging and accessible, making the audiobook an enjoyable experience for a wide range of audiences.

Overall, the audiobook performance of Bliss Montage is exceptional, with the narrator delivering a nuanced and dynamic performance that keeps the listener engaged throughout. The pacing is spot-on, allowing the story to unfold at a natural pace while still maintaining tension and suspense.

While there have been some critiques of the novel’s ending and its overall impact, these do little to detract from the powerful message and impact of the story. Overall, Bliss Montage is a highly recommended audiobook for anyone looking for a unique, thought-provoking, and enjoyable listening experience.

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