A Novel

Book - 2006
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Stephen Jones, a young recruit, reports to the Zephyr Holding Building on his first day of training to find a building numbered in reverse, an invisible CEO, and a crisis over the theft of a donut.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, 2006
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780385514392
Call Number: F BARRY MA
Characteristics: 338 p. ; 22 cm


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Jul 31, 2013

On the plus side: this book was mentioned during a meeting at work (a meeting that would, in fact, not have felt out of place if it were in this book) and I was able to flip open my iPad, find it available as an eBook at my public library, download it for free, and start reading it on the bus ride home that day. So, public libraries are awesome!

On the negative side: Well, OK, this is not all wholly negative. The BiblioCommons' definition of 2-stars is "It was OK," and this book was just that ... OK.

I'm not usually a fan of the Big Twist or the Big Reveal ending, and so, at first, I was surprised and delighted that the Big Reveal in this book happens (to us and the protagonist, Jones) about 1/4 of the way in. It's a cleaver premise and amusing to anyone who has worked for a large organization with no sense of direction. However, it turns out the "early reveal" - and Jones' immediate (albeit conflicted) complicity in the scheme - was also the book's main problem.

It's probably not a big spoiler to reveal that the corporate setting of Zephyr Holdings is really just a front for a secret experiment in management theory, and all the characters/employees are just pawns. But having that revealed up front causes some narrative problems in that all the subsequent satirical absurdity loses much of its bite. Furthermore, nothing can really top that Big Reveal and so the denouement is rather anticlimactic.

There were hints that the novel was going to turn away from the satirical direction it started with into a more personal character-driven story, perhaps even focusing on how the fundamentally decent and ethical side of Jones could break through and transform the damaged heartlessness of Eve, the faux-receptionist and ruthless experimenter. But it didn't go there. The beginnings of character backstories were abandoned and, in the end, there was no growth, really, for any of the characters.

Again, the book was "OK" - an entertaining short read that could have worked its premise to have more insights and impacts than it ultimately did.

Apr 01, 2012

Mildly amusing story about working for a giant corporation, but not engaging enough to keep me reading. I gave up after the first 50 pages. The donut on the cover is the best part of the book.

Jan 10, 2011

Very funny :D laughed most of the way through. Clever writing.

Nov 09, 2009

Hilarious! Like a novel-ized version of a Dilbert cartoon.


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