The best books are the ones that leave you mad that they’re over too soon. Doree Shafrir’s Startup did just that. Startup focuses on the rise and potential fall of a fake-but-plausible New York City tech startup, and the people involved. Were it not for the unresolved ending, this could easily be seen as a documentary work.
The journalistic feel makes sense, since Shafrir’s day job is as a technology journalist. But instead of giving the book a sense of dryness, it has the feel of a well-crafted story. The characters are fully-developed human beings, but there are no extraneous details.
The plot isn’t immediately evident. I was probably about halfway through before I was convinced that I knew the general direction it was taking. But it didn’t matter because I had long ago committed to following the story wherever Shafrir decided to lead me.
Some will undoubtedly criticize the book for its “social justice warrior” undertones (or overtones in a few places). They’re certainly right that it has those, but that’s only because the industry has so many injustices. None of the characters exist to advance an agenda. Some of the are certainly more likeable than others, but they’re all real people with real complexities.
I would love to see a sequel that follows the story through to “completion”, but I suspect it remains better left unresolved. At any rate, I hope Doree Shafrir continues to write fiction.
My friend Emily Chapman recommended this book in her “Shit from the Internet” newsletter. I’m glad she did, and encourage you to subscribe.