Thursday, September 28, 2017

Review: Startup By Doree Shafrir

Startup by Doree Shafrir
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Release Date: April 25th, 2017
Format: ebook, 305 pages
Source: Kindle
My Rating: ★★

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While Silicon Valley likes to think of itself as the epicenter of the tech universe, New York attracts its fair share of ambitious entrepreneurs determined to make their mark. Among them are Mack McAllister, the it-boy visionary of the moment trying to take his app to the next level; Isabel, a social media ninja working for him a bit too closely; and Katya, an ambitious Russian emigre journalist desperate for a scoop. When a scandal erupts in the lower Manhattan loft building where all three work, they quickly discover just how small a world the Big Apple's tech community can be.
I normally have a hard time with adult novels, but I am slowly starting to find a few hidden gems that I actually enjoy. Startup by Doree Shafrir was one of those books I generally really enjoyed and could not put down!

Startup is mostly about tech culture and startup company culture, but it's also a lot about how women have to navigate these fields. I like that the author gave us three different women through Katya, Isabel and Sabrina. Katya is kind of this cold, unfeeling journalist, Isabel is a little flighty and it seems like no one really takes her serious, and Sabrina is a tired working mom that is exhausted because her spouse is USELESS when it comes to helping her with the kids. These three all come together because Isabel is thrust into a sexting scandal with her boss Mack McAllister, who Sabrina also works for, and Katya is trying to unearth a story on it.

One thing that annoyed me about this novel, and it's an annoyance I have with a lot of adult novels, is that again it's another novel that seems to say, "look how terrible your life would be if you were married and have kids!" I know that's not the author's intention, and I believe she is just trying to show us that Sabrina and Dan just don't have a good marriage, but it really annoyed me. Dan is actually the worst, and basically makes Sabrina do everything when it comes to childcare. Early on in the novel we get Dan's side of the story through Katya (he's her boss), when Sabrina is asking if he can help her out because the Nanny is sick and he says to Katya,
"Unlike her, I actually have work to do during the day, I can't just, like, drop everything because the nanny's not feeling well. I don't even know why she's bothering to ask."
What an asshole! He acts like whatever he does for work all day is more important than what Sabrina does and makes it seem like his career is way more important. It made me so angry! It's like he's saying it's her job to take care of the kids, and I have more important things to do. It irked me so much!

To be fair all of the men characters in this novel are just terrible, it's not just Dan. Mack, the one at the center is a self-centered jerk that just thinks everything he says is the most amazing thing ever! These tech startup people actually believe that what they are doing is going to really change the world. I couldn't help but roll my eyes, which I think is exactly the reaction us readers are supposed to have. I already talked about Dan, but trust me he gets worse. Katya's boyfriend isn't the worst of the bunch, but he's just kinda unmemorable. I think the only male character I liked was Isabel's new boyfriend, and he's a kinda two-dimensional character that is just in the background. He's only in a few scenes, but he does seem like the least douch-y of the bunch.

So I guess it seems like I really disliked this novel, but that's not true. I generally enjoyed reading it and I couldn't stop because I just had to know what was going to happen. It was really interesting to see how these three women dealt with this scandal they were all in the middle of. I think this book deals a lot about toxic masculinity and how women have to navigate it in the workplace. What I found the most interesting was that I felt like I could relate to Sabrina the most, even though I am a millennial like Katya. Her feelings on what some people think about the workplace kind of align with my own.

I'm not 100% happy with how the book ends. It ends with a lot questions unanswered. I think the reader is supposed to make up their mind about what happens next, which is fine, but I think I just wanted a little more from it.

If you are a fan of Silicon Valley, I think you will enjoy this one. If you are looking for a good adult contemporary I would suggest this too. I just want to stress that it is an adult novel, and there are very adult themes in it, so if that's something you are not into you might want to pass on this one.

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Happy Reads Everyone!