By: Doree Shafrir
This book about startup tech companies in New York, reporting, and sexual harassment was a Book of the Month club pick from back in April. I liked the ideas in Startup but the story falls flat and if this is supposed to be a character piece- well, they don’t help much.
Mack’s company is about to get a multi-million dollar investment when that’s jeopardized by him sending pics of his anatomy (so to speak) to his ex-girlfriend, and current employee, Isabel. Two other people see these picks (who shouldn’t even have the phone) and then… Nothing happens. For ages.
I think that’s my biggest story problem. There’s no real drive to it. Katya is a reporter in desperate need of a scoop to drive clicks on her articles. She’s one of the people who sees the pics but she doesn’t do a damned thing until the point where she’s pretty much forced. Mack behaves like an oblivious dick to Isabel even after the pics. She doesn’t want to do anything about it, has a conversation with Sabrina (I’ll get to her) and then changes her mind.
I’m not saying that’s not true to life of that maybe someone wouldn’t. But we see almost nothing of Isabel’s thoughts so the leaps in that area didn’t do anything for me.
Meanwhile the characters are not great. I don’t think you have to like every character in a book or even any of them but truly Mack was an oblivious idiot harasser but the bad thing was for me the character of Dan was so much worse. I despised him. Why? Because he’s pretty much Mack all the while self-righteously extolling how horrible guys like Mack are! I hate HYPOCRITES!
Honestly, it was Dan that I most wanted to see go down by the end.
As I said we see less of Isabel than anyone. Katya is a good character but she doesn’t ever do anything until her hand is forced. Sabrina is probably the character we get most of. She’s Isabel’s employee and sees the pics along with Katya. She’s also Dan’s wife whose got all kinds of things going on in her own life. Which aren’t uninteresting. They just don’t really have an impact on the main story.
Without giving away spoilers I thought the bit at the end with the three women could have been the beginning of a book. Alas, no. Honestly, even if there was a sequel at this point I probably wouldn’t read it. (Maybe if I was promised Dan’s destruction I would skim it but otherwise- nope.)
Startup was a fast read and had some moments. Bonus points for attempting to tackle some tough issues. It just fell flat for me save how much I didn’t like the characters.