book review · Business · novel

Sensational Startup

Doree Shafrir is intimately familiar with the world of her debut novel Startup. However, while she could have written a lightly masked story about her experience at Buzzfeed, Shafrir set her book in a fictitious New York City startup company on the verge of bigtime success.

Shafrir’s deft, evenhanded approach brings to dramatic life the differing perspectives of 20 to 30 year old professionals involved in the enterprise, both inside the company and at the media firm covering the industry. Her keen insight into the way that individuals create and react to events delivers a fast-paced, believable novel with fantastic dialogue and astute commentary on a what can be an insular, foreign culture to the rest of us.

I wanted more. I wanted more in-depth exploration of sexual harassment, two-career couples, relationships, career development, and what comes next for those immersed in tech world — as well as the fictitious company. I am convinced the author has much to say that is wise, balanced, and interesting and would love to share a cup of coffee with her and hear what she has to say.

For all the breathless excitement and near-instantaneous response to anything large or small, the characters are not geniuses launching world-changing, life-enhancing innovations that justify their self-indulgent, short-sighted, numbskull actions. The founder of the firm fails to recognize the departure of a star employee signals a new business life stage for his brainchild that necessitates his own change. A brilliantly depicted two-career couple struggles badly with their relationship, parenting, opposing industry roles, and living in the “wrong” part of Brooklyn. There is pathos, brilliance, comedy, all the characteristics of a Shakespearean play.

Engrossing, shiny new toys don’t reinvent reality. The drive to win rewards and attempts to create successful, meaningful lives for themselves is the constant thrum beneath the surface of Startup. It makes for a riveting, fast read that will keep you turning the pages late into the night.

There is so much to admire — and so much to anticipate from Shafrir. The wide-open ending begs for a sequel or at least a further-along-the-way tech enterprise along with her well-drawn, enjoyable characters.


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