Techbitch (aka The Knockoff) by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

TechbitchA review by Nalini Haynes

The term Techbitch evolved from Queen Bee. Sometimes a “bitch” is a queen of something, like when “dessert bitch” means top dessert chef. Sometimes the emphasis is more on the bitch and less on the gerund. In this case, the emphasis is on the latter.

Imogen Tate, editor-in-chief of Glossy magazine, returns from a 6-month “sabbatical” (read: cancer recovery) to find Eve Morton, her former assistant editor, is now editorial director of Glossy, which is in the process of conversion to a web-only format. Eve epitomizes the bitch in techbitch.

While Imogen tries to find her feet in this new and increasingly cutthroat environment (the fashion industry wasn’t sufficiently cutthroat already???) she has to contend with Eve, the Wicked Witch of Lower West Side. Imogen isn’t Eve’s only victim: on the contrary, Eve sacks people on a regular basis. Her track record is so bad that Glossy instituted a new policy: no sackings via text message and another staff member must be present during the sackings.

Ashley, Imogen’s new assistant and Glossy‘s community manager, gets that awesome task.

[Breathe]

I love this book so much that I must restrain myself from doing an info dump with spoilers. I WILL SAY NO MORE.

Everyone in IT (Information Technology) can relate to the stories of death marches (horrendous hours at work and possibly not even being allowed to go home to sleep), unjustified sackings and outsourcing overseas. Although not everyone in IT may have personally experienced these things, it’s common knowledge that these things happen, and that certain companies have certain reputations.

Many GenXers and Baby Boomers can identify with Imogen, faced with Ageism and a hungry 20-somethings touting youth like the new gospel and “the new wave” (of whatever development) over experience and skills. How many have made Imogen’s observations that 20-somethings are all special snowflakes relying on their parents instead of having those formative, character-building experiences of moving out, living in poverty while gaining independence and maturity? The flip side of the story is also here: how the 20-somethings work hard in their own way, driven by different goals and struggling with pressures the dinosaurs didn’t face while developing as adults. I mean, OMG — I’m so glad I didn’t have to contend with the “it’s not real until it’s on Facebook” relationship dilemma!

The Knockoff: alternative title, alternative coverBut if you’re going to call me a dinosaur, like Imogen I’d like to be something sexier than a brontosaurus, thanks. Perhaps an allosaurus?

This novel is advertised as being like the Devil Wears Prada. I enjoyed that movie but don’t relate to the fashion industry; I wouldn’t have read a book titled The Knockoff, which is this novel’s alternative title. This is a time when judging a book by its cover is a definite disadvantage.

Techbitch is smart, sassy and biting. I love Techbitch so much it’s the first book I’ve finished this year that I have on my “must re-read” list. It’s the kind of book I might retreat to when I need a comfort read. Techbitch has also challenged me to extend my use of technology while giving me some tips along the way although it’s not meant to be a manual. Time to crack open that dusty Instagram account!

Highly recommended for anyone in a cutthroat industry involving technology, for anyone with a shitty boss, for anyone suffering ageism. Techbitch rocks. (Here’s the link for the more socially acceptable title The Knockoff. If you must.)

Rating:full starfull starfull starfull starfull star 5 out of 5 stars
ISBN-13: 9780718181666
ISBN-10: 0718181662
Format: paperback, 448 pages (It seems smaller!)
Publisher: Michael Joseph (RandomPenguins)