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Syrup does satire right

Max Barry’s first book serves as a hilarious and biting satire of American consumerism and corporate politics. | yuqihou.com

 

“I want the American dream”

This is the last line in the opening monologue given by the protagonist in Max Barry’s novel “Syrup.”

A MILLION DOLLAR IDEA

“Syrup” chronicles Scat, a young marketer who recently moved to Los Angeles to make this dream a reality. The hopefully million dollar idea hatched by Scat is an edgy new soda for the Coca-Cola company, aimed at their younger and more cynical customers. Though his idea is a hit at Coke, his naivete of the cut-throat corporate landscape leads to him being backstabbed and losing his beloved idea. He and his new business partner, the beautiful and mysterious 6, remain determined to make it in the industry, despite multiple sabotages. The duo ultimately set out to exact revenge on the man who stole Scat’s original idea, the menacing “Sneaky Pete.”

Barry’s writing is very fast paced, making this novel virtually impossible to put down. He is witty and hilarious and jabs at corporate hijinks without even an inkling of self-righteousness. He brilliantly weaves romance into the tale of capitalist intrigue.

PLAYING THE GAME

The narrative really takes off in the final quarter of the book. While the entire book is engaging, I found myself flipping through pages twice as fast in the last portion. The characters are well formed and you desperately want to see Scat and 6 succeed in their plot to finally overtake Sneaky Pete and take the marketing world by storm.

Barry’s genius is in the fact that he uses the hilarity of “Syrup” to make its point, rather than bashing readers over the head with it. The sleazy nicknames, idiotic boardroom politics and ridiculous antics all show the marketing world for what it truly is — a game. Perhaps it is a game that must be played, but that does not make it any less absurd.

 

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