List of Characters

Dan Underwood—narrator, twenty-six-year-old, in love with Karla.

Dan's mother—a nurse who has a stroke at the end of the story.

Dan's father—loses his job at IBM, starts working for Oop!

Karla—Dan's girlfriend, very intelligent and rational. Has problems with her parents who denied her intelligence.

Jed—younger brother of Dan who drowned at the age of 12.

Susan—co-worker both at Microsoft and at Oop! She is 26 and is constantly on the look out for a relationship with a man.

Emmett Couch—falls in love with Susan after he is hired to work on storyboards
for Oop!

Abe—co-worker at Microsoft who is the last to move down to California.

Todd—co-worker who is obsessed with body-building. Becomes  involved with Dusty, another bodybuilder.

Dusty—becomes pregnant with Todd and worries that the drugs has used to enhance her physique may affect her baby.

Lindsay Rut—Dusty and Todd's baby girl.

Bug—oldest of the co-workers, who admits, late in life, that he is gay.

Jeremy—has a brief affair with Bug.

Sig—man who becomes involved with Bug at end of the novel.

Michael—starts Oop! and probably has the highest I.Q. of the group.

Amy (Barcode)—Amy meets Michael through the internet, then comes to work
for Oop! and falls madly in love with Michael

Ethan—CEO of Oop! Responsible for procuring funding.

Anatole—lives next door to Dan's parents. Used to work at Apple. Drops in at Oop! for conversation.

Character Analysis

Dan is the narrator of this novel and therefore readers are privileged to his thoughts more so than any of the other characters. But like the other characters, Dan struggles to find meaning in his life, outside of work.

Dan tends to feel insecure at times. He mourns the loss of his younger brother, Jed, whom Dan believes was far more intelligent than he. Dan worries that his father loved Jed more than he loves Dan. When his father develops a close relationship with Michael, Dan thinks his dad treats Michael more like a son than himself. Dan also worries about losing his girlfriend, Karla, from time to time as well as losing his job because he is not as smart as his co-workers.

Karla is good for Dan overall. She helps him to relax through their long, stimulating conversations as well as through massage. Karla has learned the techniques for deep massage, which she believes helps to release stored memories. However, Karla has some deep problems of her own. Her brother forever overshadowed her. Her parents praised her brother for his intelligence, which Karla did not believe he possessed. Karla became bulimic and nearly died from the disorder.  Her involvement with Dan, who respects her strong intelligence, helps Karla to regain her psychological balance.

Michael is one of the strangest of all the characters. He is almost all brain. He has few social skills and is said to look a bit weird for his lack of attention to his physicality—strange haircut, strange clothes. His intelligence keeps him somewhat cut off from the other characters. In the end, Michael confesses to Dan that he is terribly lonesome. He has no one to talk to, except for an internet connection with an entity (Michael does not know what sex or what age of this person) who goes by the name of Barcode. As it turns out, Michael and Barcode (whose real name is Amy) have very similar personalities. They are social misfits who understand one another perfectly.

Two other characters that also find a new direction in life are Todd and Dusty. Both are obsessive body-builders. When they are not talking about computer coding, they are both either at the gym working out or they are talking about their bodies. Their refrigerators are filled with protein drinks and pills but very little real food. When Dusty becomes pregnant, they both freak out. Todd puts distance between himself and Dusty, to the point that he "makes-out" with a woman he meets in Las Vegas at a computer convention. Dusty, in the meantime, is afraid she is going to deliver a “grapefruit” instead of a baby because of all the chemicals she has used.