Madness In Silicon Alley: A Review of Days Of Amber

Earlier this year I did an interview with author H.W. Vivian about her novel Chasers, a YA adventure that takes place in Colorado. Since then she has released another book, Days Of Amber, under the pseudonym Alex Chu. A quick, novella length read, the book follows the drama behind the scenes of a tech company based out of New York City as it attempts to shed its start-up roots and go public.

First and foremost, I should say that the book is a comedy, and it does deliver on entertainment. “Over the top” might be the phrase that best characterizes the story. Many of the scenarios encountered by the characters, while grounded in reality, are taken to comical extremes that are very enjoyable. I often found myself smiling or laughing over the characters’ antics and some of the strange things that took place between them.

I also thought the pacing of the book was pretty good. The story is short (novella length, as I said), but I felt it unfolded appropriately. I’ve read many books, or even seen many movies, that I thought could have been cut shorter, but that is not an issue here. I think Chu does a good job of matching length and pacing to content and not dragging things on or trying to make the story bigger than it is.

One of the more unique aspects of the book is its large cast of characters, many of who receive at least some POV time. I haven’t read any story in recent memory that has bounced around between perspectives as often or as fluidly. On the one hand, I think this robust cast is one of the book’s strengths, but at times it also feels like something of a weakness.

There are characters from all the different echelons of the company, Amber and Associates, and each provides a different insight into how the business operates (or I suppose, how it doesn’t). The smorgasbord of people gives a very complete sense of the company, and jumping through so many perspectives can be fun. More impressively, Chu does a commendable job of making these characters quirky and memorable in a very short span of time. While many characters only receive brief moments of screen time, they are instantly recognizable, and I rarely confused them or forgot who they were.

However, while the story provides a very strong scattershot of many different aspects of the company and its operations, there isn’t a lot of insight into singular characters. The drama of Amber’s business woes carries the plot along nicely, but I think a smaller cast of characters may have strengthened the novel. I liked almost all of the characters, but I never felt particularly attached to any specific one because there are so many. As it stands, a lot of characters pop in and out of the story, and there are many who we don’t get to know all that well, and I think that maybe the number those holding viewpoints could have been trimmed down a little bit.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I have to say it does accomplish what it sets out to do, which is provide a comedic look into the culture of tech and start-up businesses in New York City. If you’re looking for something fun, and the subject matter sounds interesting to you, then I can say that it’s worth checking out.

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