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Review: Max Barry - Syrup (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
Syrup is Max Barry's first book, and the first one I've read. He is probably more known for Jennifer Government. I read the first chapter of Syrup on his homepage while looking for a reason to buy Jennifer Government, and was intrigued. I bought them both and thought I'd read them chronologically.

The book is satire, based on the world of large corporate marketing. It is a fast paced book, short sentences, short paragraphs and short chapters. It seldomly dwells on details outside characters and plot, and it is a quick, easy read.

The main character, Scat (auto-named in an attempt to market himself), is a recent graduate from a Cal State university, looking for fame and fortune. He has what he refers to as a million dollar idea, a new kind of coke, and with this idea he is thrust into a world of ladder climbing and backstabbing.

Unlike his love interest and the novels secondary character, Scat is a likable. Easy going, naive, and bewildered by the landscape of big corporation politics, he is his own comic relief. The woman he falls in love with, and the co-star of sorts, is quite the opposite. She is cold, calculating and a plain old bitch, which makes it hard to root for their love to prevail.

The book was, to me, more amusing than plain out funny. It has its moments though. Some of the jabs at corporate culture and marketing works, others are perhaps a little too obvious.

While the business aspect of the book is never meant to be believable, sometimes this spills over into the creation and resolution of the obstacles he faces, which is a shame. Especially towards the end of the book, there are what I would consider holes in how the plot resolves itself. Unsurmountable obstacles where the solutions are not in proportion to the problem.

If you have 8 feet a stack of books waiting to be read, I would not recommend this one. It is however, suited for some easy pocketbook reading on a lazy beach somewhere.

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