The reviews compare Slab Rat to Nick Hornby and Bridget Jones’ Diary. No and no. Slab Rat is about Zachary Post, who reinvents himself to get a job at a magazine and whose only goals seem to be to get promoted, marry well, and move up in society. Even Nick Hornby’s most superficial character, the protagonist in About a Boy, becomes introspective and is able, despite himself, to develop a close relationship with an awkward boy. Bridget Jones might be superficial, but she’s so self-effacing and funny about it that it’s charming. Zachary Post has no such charm.
The book that Slab Rat most reminded me of was Then They All Came to an End (reviewed on this blog; see book index) by Joshua Ferris. Both books deal with absurd office politics in superficial industries (advertising, in the Ferris novel), both have young protagonists trying to succeed in the rat race, both have ice queen bosses, both have characters that threaten to go off the deep end in response to the story’s tensions. But Then They All Came to an End is funnier, and has situations that anyone who works in an office can relate to. Also, the main plot line, a company slowly downsizing in response to a bad economy, leaves the reader wondering who’s going to be next. Slab Rat’s tension has to do with a new wunderkind who comes in and quickly moves up and kills any chance of advancement for the main characters. Not as interesting. And the worst part is that the main character is so superficial that I don’t really care that his career is being stymied.