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A Day at the Office is a 2013 novel by Matt Dunn. I bought it for my Kindle as it was cheap on Amazon. I believe I got it for 99p, but it is currently £1.99.
This novel is set over the course of a working day in an office in London. The day is Valentine's Day. The story is told from the point of view of 5 characters - Sophie, Julie, Nathan, Mark and Calum. They all work together and are planning to go to the Anti-Valentine's work outing that Nathan has organised. The novel follows their day, and as it goes on we learn about their love lives (or lack of).
The novel centres around 3 main storylines. One of these is so infuriating and dragged out that you just want to shake the 2 characters involved and tell them to get their acts together. Another plotline I assume was meant to have a very surprising climax; however I predicted it a few chapters in.
I found the characters to be very real and likeable, but they all make terrible puns, ALL the time. Each time I read another one, I tutted and rolled my eyes; it was just constant and too much. The author also has an annoying habit of constantly using their full names - he does this throughout the entire book. To me, there is really no need for this. There are only 5 main characters, so as a reader I was quite aware who they were by their first names!
The series of 'hilarious' mishaps and misunderstandings that befall all the characters for the duration of the novel were a bit cheesy at times, cliched almost. For example, someone dropping a bowling ball on their foot; someone else's electric razor breaking when they've only shaved half of their face. It all seemed a bit too silly for me - I appreciate though that I am a grump and others might find all these jolly japes amusing.
I do get what the author was trying to do by setting this novel over the course of a day and setting it in 'real time', but for me it just bored me. Very little actually happens and too much time is spent describing each character's thoughts and feelings, some of which just didn't captivate me whatsoever. Their daily business such as going to get coffee is described in minute detail - you know, I do stuff like that myself everyday so I have no desire to read about other people's office drudgery.
This is a down to earth book, and parts of it are witty, but it wasn't enough to satisfy me. Perhaps I prefer a little escapism in my novels.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS?
Sadly I would not recommend this. I have read good reviews elsewhere for this book so I do seem to be in the minority. I found it frustrating and cheesy. Unfortunately, like a day at the office, this was just too mundane at times and I couldn't wait for it to end.
I'm a big fan of Matt Dunn's writing, so I was excited when he let me know that he had a brand new eBook coming out last week called A Day At The Office. Matt's writing never fails to make me laugh, so I was hoping for the same thing from this eBook, and now that I'm at home feeling rather poorly, I needed something to cheer me up, and so I got my Kindle out and started reading Matt's book last night. I had finished it by midday the following day because I was really invested in the story, and wanting to find out what was going to happen with the cast of characters! It's a fabulous book, and here's why you must read it!
The book is based around 5 people all working at the same IT software company. Sophie rather fancies the IT support manager Nathan, but he seems to be pretty anti-Valentines himself, having organised the company's "Anti-Valentines party" for the past few years. Sophie doesn't know how to get through to Nathan that she likes him though. Her boss Julia kissed Mark who also works at the company, but neither of them have really spoken since the drunken fumble in the back of a taxi, even though they rather like each other afar. Will this Valentine's day mean the two finally get together? Lastly, there's Calum, a single guy who thinks he's found the woman of his dreams on the internet. Trouble is, he's worried that he won't match up to Emma's idea of him, and is stressing about their first date. Will any of the 5 end up with their own happily ever after on Valentine's Day?
As per the title of the book, you can tell that this book takes place over just one day in the office, which I found made it really interesting reading, and it certainly slowed the pace of the book down, although that wasn't a detrimental thing for the book at all. Dunn begins by introducing us to all of those characters mentioned above, and setting up their individual stories, before bringing them all together as they arrive at their workplace. It barely needed any other characters except for the main 5, because it was so well written, and you end up completely involved in their stories, and following the cringe-worthy things they get up in the mad pursuit to find a Valentine on the most romantic day of the year!
Of course, things don't go swimmingly for the group, and at several points in the book, I found myself getting so frustrated with them for not being honest with each other and just telling the person they liked how they really felt. However, it added to the atmosphere of the book, and there were quite a few moments when I was laughing out loud, Dunn writes the comedy in the book so well that you can't help but laugh, it is genuinely funny! I have to say I was a little disappointed by the ending of one of the stories, it didn't end how I wanted or expected it to and that's why I had to knock this down 1/2 a mark with my rating, I have to say it was a shame for me that it ended the way it did!
Other than that small quibble, which really was a personal thing rather than anything else, I thought this was a fantastic eBook and one I really enjoyed reading! Matt Dunn's writing was great - he brought the characters to life so well, and made you care about how the day was going to end for Sophie, Nathan, Julie, Mark and Calum. They were all likeable characters, and they had me laughing along with them as the book progressed. You could really believe in them as real people going through these real love problems, and I loved that people will be able to relate to what happens to these people in the book, and the humour throughout makes it all the more pleasurable to read. If you haven't come across Matt Dunn's writing yet, I'd definitely suggest you start with this one - a brilliant read!
ASIN: B00BEM118I. Available as a Kindle edition only. Currently selling for £1.99 on Amazon.co.uk.