Book Review- Startup by Doree Shafrir

Book Review- Startup by Doree Shafrir

    If I share the good, should I share the bad’ish?


    As I have mentioned previously, one of my Christmas presents was a membership to the Book of the Month Club. On the first of each month I get to select one of the five nominated books.  I can purchase all five books if I so wish, and this month I bought three, which turned out to be just as well.


    How I select my BOTM


    I am always very happy to see the new book selections pop up in an email and read the synopsis of each story. This guide helps me decide what book I like the sound of most. How do you pick what books to read? I have a few criteria that I generally use:


    • Is the subject something that I can relate to?
    • Or is the subject something that fascinates me?
    • Is the setting a place I have visited?
    • Or is the setting somewhere I’d love to learn more about?
    • Do I like other books by this author?


    Nothing too out of the normal with my list I don’t think? In April this phrase from the books précis caught my attention:


    “A satirical and intensely entertaining debut, Startup is an amusing story of the absurdity of tech culture and modern romance gone awry. Even if you secretly lament the good ol’ days when people used the telephone instead of Snapchat, anyone who’s ever held an office job will find something to identify within”. Excerpt from BOTM synopsis.

    My take on the story


    The book delves into the lives of those involved in the tech startup world. Not based in Silicon Valley, as you might imagine, but New York City or Silicon Alley as it’s known (evidently). The main protagonist is Mack, a cocky young entrepreneur with a wellness app already valued at $600 million but looking to make that $1 billion however he can. The female leads are Isabel; young, beautiful, and seemingly carefree. Katya: young (get the theme here) and hungry for success. And finally, Sabrina; old at 36 (cough cough) a mom in a dysfunctional marriage and struggling with her finances (just a few clichés?) Startup tells the story of how their worlds, both physical and digital, collide.


    What went wrong?


    I’d say that the story started well enough. As the characters are introduced I recognized the familiar traits of today’s office culture – employees who wear earphones to zone out their fellow worker bees, who communicate and get summoned to meetings via Whatsapp, and who are full of insecurities over job security. But what I thought was going to be a book about tech startups actually takes a turn and SPOILER ALERT ALTHOUGH ITS IN MANY REVIEWS SO PERHAPS NOT it turns into a book about sexual harassment?


    My verdict of Startup by Doree Shafrir


    “Together these women develop an unexpected bond and might even have each other’s backs in a cutthroat industry”. Excerpt from BOTM synopsis.

    While I will give you that the women’s work lives all become intertwined, I think it’s a stretch to say that they ‘develop an unexpected bond’.  And they hardly ‘have each other’s back in a cutthroat industry’. One begins the preliminary stages of an affair with another’s husband. One will sell her soul for a good story to publish so throwing one of the others under the bus is only a fleeting concern. And one looks only at all the negative stereotypes of her ‘old’ colleague without seeing any of her skills. As you can probably tell, I didn’t like the women too much!


    And as for the men in the book? Well their own self-importance is their main driving force. Mack has the world at his feet (or so he thinks) so ‘rules’ are really only guidelines. Dan falls into the sad stereotype of the married man with responsibilities who has grown bored with all that so likes the look of the young colleague whose interest in getting on in the company he misconstrues to being an opening to start an affair. So I didn’t like the men too much either!


    However, in my humble opinion, the actions taken by Mack AND Isabel do not warrant the main storyline of a book that could have amounted to so much more. And as for all the talk of sexual harassment, exchanging compromising photos of each other but one stopping when it’s time to move on and upward and the other not getting the subtle message straight away doesn’t seem like a very strong case to me. Yes, I’ll give you that it’s a ‘light’ read. Certainly, it doesn’t take too much concentration to work through so perhaps good for a beach read?


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