Mack's financial predicament may feel familiar to anyone who's watched the HBO sitcom Silicon Valley. Shafrir has upped the level of ridiculousness by making TakeOff's product — a 'mindfulness' app — seem particularly useless ... Shafrir makes an interesting and risky choice to show the harassment more from Mack's point of view than Isabel's. The book deserves praise for shining a light on the issue, a pervasive problem in tech. But Isabel just doesn't feel quite as vivid as the other characters, and the consequences for her don't seem serious ... For the most part, though, Shafrir's touch is just right in this debut novel. She's got the excesses of this industry nailed.
If the sexual harassment plot unfolds a bit predictably — men are dopes and liars, women are sisters under the skin — the cleverness of everything else is such that you almost don’t notice. Shafrir is priceless on topics from millennial office culture to the Russian immigrant lifestyle of Katya’s parents to the vast chasm dividing today’s 20-somethings from 30-somethings.
Smart, amusing, and light as an emoji feather, Startup is a coming-of-age novel for these digital times ... It is an easy world to poke fun at, with its insider references and silly-sounding catchphrases and, most of all, its ridiculous amounts of money ... But this is no Bright Lights Big City. It’s not even as deep as 2013’s coming-of-age breakthrough, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. While it may be coincidence that those books dealt with young people finding themselves in New York’s literary society, what they shared was a more complex worldview — a dawning awareness that the world was larger than the characters’ own social milieu ... Like her heroines, the author came of age in digital media, and the book reads that way: fast, witty, and fun. But, sadly, after turning the last page the story lacks the kind of thoughtful resonance that takes hold and lingers.