Startup by Doree Shafrir

Startup by Doree Shafrir
Publisher/Year: Little, Brown and Company, 2017
Format: E-book
Pages: 304
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


“A biting and astute debut novel [with] many delights.” –Lara Vapnyar, New York Times Book Review

Recommended as a book to read this month by BuzzFeed, Bustle, Entertainment Weekly, Fast Company, Nylon, Town & Country and Lit Hub

One of the most anticipated books of 2017–Vulture, BuzzFeed, The Millions, Nylon, PopSugar, and Book Riot’s “All the Books” Podcast

From veteran online journalist and BuzzFeed writer Doree Shafrir comes a hilarious debut novel that proves there are some dilemmas that no app can solve.

Mack McAllister has a $600 million dollar idea. His mindfulness app, TakeOff, is already the hottest thing in tech and he’s about to launch a new and improved version that promises to bring investors running and may turn his brainchild into a $1 billion dollar business–in startup parlance, an elusive unicorn.

Katya Pasternack is hungry for a scoop that will drive traffic. An ambitious young journalist at a gossipy tech blog, Katya knows that she needs more than another PR friendly puff piece to make her the go-to byline for industry news.

Sabrina Choe Blum just wants to stay afloat. The exhausted mother of two and failed creative writer is trying to escape from her credit card debt and an inattentive husband–who also happens to be Katya’s boss–as she rejoins a work force that has gotten younger, hipper, and much more computer literate since she’s been away.

Before the ink on Mack’s latest round of funding is dry, an errant text message hints that he may be working a bit too closely for comfort with a young social media manager in his office. When Mack’s bad behavior collides with Katya’s search for a salacious post, Sabrina gets caught in the middle as TakeOff goes viral for all the wrong reasons. As the fallout from Mack’s scandal engulfs the lower Manhattan office building where all three work, it’s up to Katya and Sabrina to write the story the men in their lives would prefer remain untold.

An assured, observant debut from the veteran online journalist Doree Shafrir, Startup is a sharp, hugely entertaining story of youth, ambition, love, money and technology’s inability to hack human nature.

What I thought

I am absolutely blown away by how much I enjoyed this book! At the risk of sounding pessimistic, I have to admit that this book wasn’t one that initially appealed to me, if simply for the fact that I know absolutely nothing about big city startup culture. But it kept showing up everywhere and I kept seeing readers raving about it, particularly people whose taste I inherently trust. So I had to see what all the hype was about, and I’m so glad I did!

Startup was compulsively readable, and I was truly loathe to put it down. I think what did it for me was that for as much as I found this cast of characters to be mostly unlikable humans, I couldn’t help but want to read about their antics. And don’t mistake me, I have no issue with reading about unlikable characters–to me, that makes them more human and relatable. It was utterly addictive reading to see what questionable choice any one of them would make next.

The most impressive aspect of this debut was Shafrir’s writing. It’s smart, witty, and, at times, hilarious. With Startup, Shafrir offers readers a satirical and timely take on millenial, technology-driven culture. It gave me a lot to think about and to examine in my own life, with regards to technology and social media use.

Honestly, the only thing that kept this from being a five-star read for me was that although this was timely, I hesitate to say that it’s timeless. I’m not sure that this is a book that I will ever feel the need to revisit. Unlike some reviewers, I was actually okay with the ending (once I gave it some thought), and I don’t feel the need for a sequel or any more concrete explanations. Not everyone enjoys open-ended conclusions, though, so without spoiling anything, just be aware that Shafrir leaves her readers with multiple questions.

With that being said, I still would highly recommend this book, and I will definitely be looking forward to reading more from Shafrir in the future.

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