Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza or "I'm 42 and a Dinosaur"

What They Say.....An outrageously stylish, wickedly funny novel of fashion in the digital age, The
Knockoff is the story of Imogen Tate, editor in chief of Glossy magazine, who finds her twentysomething former assistant Eve Morton plotting to knock Imogen off her pedestal, take over her job, and reduce the magazine, famous for its lavish 768-page September issue, into an app.

When Imogen returns to work at Glossy after six months away, she can barely recognize her own magazine. Eve, fresh out of Harvard Business School, has fired "the gray hairs," put the managing editor in a supply closet, stopped using the landlines, and hired a bevy of manicured and questionably attired underlings who text and tweet their way through meetings. Imogen, darling of the fashion world, may have Alexander Wang and Diane von Furstenberg on speed dial, but she can't tell Facebook from Foursquare and once got her iPhone stuck in Japanese for two days. Under Eve's reign, Glossy is rapidly becoming a digital sweatshop-hackathons rage all night, girls who sleep get fired, and "fun" means mandatory, company-wide coordinated dances to Beyoncé. Wildly out of her depth, Imogen faces a choice-pack up her Smythson notebooks and quit, or channel her inner geek and take on Eve to save both the magazine and her career. A glittering, uproarious, sharply drawn story filled with thinly veiled fashion personalities, The Knockoff is an insider's look at the ever-changing world of fashion and a fabulous romp for our Internet-addicted age.

What I Say....This book started out slow.  I understand that the authors were trying to make the point that the heroine, Imogen, is supposed to be so old and outdated (she was 42!!!  If you didn't know that, you would have thought she was 85 or slightly slow) that she is in danger of becoming irrelevant.  But the initial build up for this was so over the top that it was embarrassing.  It's hard to
Oh, Imogen......
believe that a 42 year old editor in chief of a national fashion magazine (who also has a pre-teen daughter) has never been on Twitter, Instagram, and never had an app or a website for her popular magazine.  Honestly, my 70 year old retired father has a new Ipad and Apple TV, and is quite adept with both.  The lack of ANY tech awareness by Imogen was a little hard to swallow.

She didn't know how to use her computer or really even check her email.  She keeps lamenting the loss of her Blackberry (the iPhone is beyond her too), but all it did was make me wonder what the hell she was doing on it?  They make it seem like composing an email was completely beyond her.

About a quarter of the way in, the story started to pick up.  There definitely is a gap between the emerging workforce of Millennials and the Gen X'ers, and that was an interesting storyline.  In the beginning, Imogen seemed to believe the whole new workforce would be unwelcoming to her.  But as the story progressed, she found that many of the younger crowd were respectful of what she brought to the table, and wanted to help her learn to adapt.  Eve wasn't horrible because she was a Millennial, Eve was just a horrible person.

Don't go to Harvard Business School
Eve was really kind of a one note character.  And the one note was not good.  Sometimes, it's nice when the villain has a little more backstory of what made them morph into evil, but there wasn't that detail here - she went away to Harvard Business school a crying mouse, and came back as evil wrapped in a bandage dress.

There were two sideswipes of the story that seemed unnecessary, one was the kiss between Imogen and Eve's fiance (Imogen's ex-boyfriend).  I kept thinking Eve would find out, her husband would find out, or there would be some later development, but there wasn't. It was just nothing.  And it's hard to believe that Imogen would join him for a drink, this made no sense, given what we knew about her character.
The second was the phantom breast pain.  I thought it was a tool to make Imogen consider quitting, or changing jobs, a way to remind her what was most important in her life.  But it was really just an aside, and wasn't mentioned again.

But all in all, this was a very enjoyable read and I liked Imogen a lot as a character.  There were quite a few places where I laughed out loud, and I applaud Imogen's restraint when she discovered the secret of "Candy Cool", because I might have been tempted to reach out and touch someone in Herve Lager.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Doubleday for this ARC and the chance to review "The Knockoff".

Current Goodreads rating 3.71

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