Such a nihilistic view may be intellectually intriguing, but it does not make for engaging storytelling. Alice and sister Edith's childhood stories are told in snippets throughout the novel, yet in the detached way we find out about them and their upbringing as the children of an entomologist and population control activist in many exotic locales, we never warm up to them. Perhaps the story seems unreal from the beginning. Sibling rivalry is another theme throughout the story, yet we never get a sense of the warmth or love that underlies the competition. The sisters' lifelong hobby of collecting "shame stories" from acquaintances provides another of the novel's threads. These are characters' memories, often of having a sexual relationship with someone out of pity, told to Edith after being sexually teased by her to reveal them. Stories of different characters incidental to the main narrative are interspersed throughout the hijacking narrative, without clear addition to the story except to underline the disconnected, dissociated tone of the whole.