Published by Berkley
Publication date: October 6th 2015
Oh dear, oh dear. Beware the comparative blurb. As in “the next Gone Girl” or “it’s like Little House on the Prairie meets Twilight”. And I’m not warning writers, I’m warning readers. Do you fall for this? I like to think I don’t but obviously, I do. Today’s example is Copygirl, a novel set in an advertising agency. I saw the Goodreads blurb and was ready to start reading:
Mad Men meets The Devil Wears Prada in this lively debut about a young woman working at the hippest ad agency in New York…
Why not?! I loved Devil Wears Prada and even though I never got into Mad Men (don’t hate) it seems like the same kind of cutthroat creative industry, so a novel about a plucky young woman trying to get ahead sounded like the kind of sorbet reading that would cleanse my brain from a string of not-so-great books and reset my mind for some outstanding reading (yes, I am that kid who sees a barn full of dung and thinks there MUST be a pony in there somewhere).
Sadly, this was not to be. Copygirl does forego the tired trope of bitchy older female boss who is incapable of welcoming and mentoring the next generation, but that’s about the only one not found in the novel. Miranda Priestly is replaced by a sneaky egomaniac who creates a workplace that is a harassment lawsuit waiting to happen. The heroine, Kay, is a copywriter new to NYC who has no self-confidence and so gets pushed around by everyone at this male dominated ad agency. She pines for a boy who was her best friend back home and is her creative partner at the agency but who doesn’t seem to realize she loves him. He falls prey to the wiles of a glamazon, who ultimately turns out to be an empowered gal (despite having an affair with the boss and thinking he’s going to leave his wife for her), and helps out poor, badly dressed Kay.
Like any number of ad campaigns, Copygirl begins with a fun concept but does not deliver. Kay is a quirky female protagonist in an industry rife with testosterone (is there one that isn’t?). She’s fighting for her dream in NYC so there is all the grit of office politics and trying to survive on a salary that can’t support human life. Copygirl’s pitch is sold to the reader with witty prose and a cast of characters that embraces their stereotypes (leggy model colleagues, macho boss, frat boy co-workers)…it may not be the most innovative setup but it works for light, entertaining reading. Right up until it tips into the tired, done-too-many-times plot twist, which when it’s this obvious can hardly be called a twist. This is a disappointing turn for Copygirl because there are interesting ideas that could have sustained the reader. Kay’s hobby is making small wax dolls and filming avant-garde videos of them—her only way to let off steam about her life—and later in the novel the whole girl power aspect kicks in, which works for me no matter how many times I read it. Unfortunately, Copygirl crossed the fine line from fun to silly and that doesn’t work for me unless it’s kittens chasing their tails on youtube.
Sarah's Book Shelves says
I’ve gotten burned so many times by these “the next XX” or “XX meets XX”! Most recently by Speed Kings being billed as “the next Boys in the Boat”. Anyway – won’t be reading this one! Thanks for your honesty!
I don’t like writing wholly negative reviews but my goodness, I am helping people find things to read and this is not a good choice.
Lisa @ Reading, Writing, and Random Musings says
I’m so bummed you didn’t like it – I love the cover and the name! I’m finding that comparative blurbs are growing in popularity, and I’m not sure they fit as well as they used to. I’m being careful not to rely on the comparative trend alone.
I was all set to love it but the stereotypes and tropes went too far and took over the book. I love chick lit- even though some people hate the term but I don’t like things that are silly and by the end this was really silly.
Trish @ Between My Lines says
I’ve all too often being burned by fun concepts that don’t deliver. And comparing a book to another book I’ve loved or a tv program I enjoy, is one way to get my attention but like you said it’s often not the best way to find new books!
I do it myself when trying to explain a book to someone, but it seems to require more through than these marketing people are using!
Gah! And it sounded so promising at the outset!
I know! It’s the kind of thing that almost gives me book rage. Or, to stay on the them the industry theme- false advertising. 😉