The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

Enjoyment of The Knockoff for me was predicated upon the assumption that I would empathize with the senior editor of a (thinly veiled) Vogue-like magazine who a) doesn’t know how to use a computer and so has her secretary print out her emails every day and b) hasn’t figured out that there’s a lot of backstabbing in the industry and isn’t prepared for it.  Neither rang true for me; nor did any character feel more than the thinnest of cardboard cutouts.  This story would have made much more sense in 1999 rather than 2015.

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Story: Senior Editor Imogen returns from a two year medical leave only find the magazine in upheaval: all the values that had made the magazine what it was had been jettisoned in order to create a new vision: one led by tyrannical recent university graduate Eve. Imogen must learn about programming, internet, social media, work circles, open plan offices, and the modern way of doing business as the magazine transition from print to online ap.

Eve’s disingenuous machinations jarred with Imogen’s babe in the woods cluelessness – we’re supposed to root for the older and mature, grounded woman over the young ‘upstart.  But Eve is far too obviously ‘wrong’ in her approaches so that we get a very one-dimensional character who ends up not being a foil for Imogen. Even more problematic, Imogen’s cluelessness made me want to root for Eve and progressiveness; Imogen was living in a Mad Men era somehow in 2015.  If Eve had been made to seem less shallow, her decisions less disruptive and problematic (and even destructively impulsive), I might have enjoyed the book.  But the book has a baseness that felt almost insulting to the reader. Eve is a shameless social climber and Imogen the dinosaur queen she has to dethrone.

The Knockoff never felt clever or snarky to me; admittedly, it was so silly and over-the-top that it felt like the authors were trying too hard. Imogen needed more charm and Eve more nuances for this to really work for me.  Reviewed from an advance Reader Copy

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