[I received a copy of this book from its Canadian publisher Random House Canada. This does not affect my opinion of the novel.]
Summer is coming! For this bookworm, it means warm days with cold drinks and a great “beach” read is on the horizon. (I don’t go to the beach often here in Toronto, but “park read” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it!) Well, fellow book lovers, the summer reads have been trickling in, and I’m excited to share my thoughts on The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza with you today.
Set in the high fashion magazine world, The Knockoff is bound to be compared to The Devil Wears Prada, but beyond the world in which it’s set, it is quite distinct from Lauren Weisberger’s work, made famous by its movie adaptation starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway. Sure, there’s that fierce competition within the magazine and underhanded schemes, but the enemy in The Knockoff is not a draconian boss: it’s the shifting media landscape and a perhaps naive younger generation.
Imogen Tate, Editor-in-Chief of the renowned fashion magazine Glossy, returns to work after a leave of absence to find the office chaotic and totally unfamiliar. As it turns out, her former assistant, Eve Morton, is now spearheading a project to turn Glossy into an app, and has eliminated the magazine’s print format altogether. Now that wouldn’t be so bad if Eve were a rational colleague; unfortunately though, she is not proving to be a great team player or a great navigator in social situations. Glossy is suffering under her reign as employees are overworked and professional bridges are burned. Can Imogen adapt to all of this new technology while saving her beloved magazine from crashing down?
The Knockoff was a really fun read for me. It was light and easy to read, yet it also explores the anxieties that traditional media may be facing today: what does the future hold for them when everything seems to be moving online? Will the printed word become obsolete and traditional values be swept away? I think Sykes and Piazza do a great job in balancing the merits of traditional and new formats. Our protagonist Imogen is initially reluctant to try new technologies, but eventually recognizes its values. While Eve is the “bad guy” of the novel, her desire to move into the online world isn’t the problem. Rather, it’s her attitude and unwillingness to collaborate with her colleagues and peers. That being said, I think that the transition from traditional media to new media and the relationship between long-time industry professionals vs. up-and-coming younger generations is extremely complicated and it was really fun to read Sykes and Piazza’s takes on it.
You may have noticed that The Knockoff is a co-authored book. I’m happy to say that this does not affect the work in any negative way. The writing style and tone is consistent throughout, and I read the book as if there was only one author. I say yay to this collaboration!
Verdict: A fun read coming into the summer. I do wish that some parts were a little more fleshed out and that Imogen didn’t do one specific thing at the end of the book, but overall I really enjoyed the read as it transported me to a world that is completely foreign but fun.
Read if: You love fashion, you want more books like The Devil Wears Prada, you want to see traditional vs. new battle it out in an entertaining way.
Do you think you’ll read The Knockoff? Are you a The Devil Wears Prada fan? Do you think new media will ever fully replace traditional media?