3 out of 4 stars
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With a failed writing career, unsuccessful job hunting and a cold-hearted fiancée, life could not get any bleaker for Phillip. He misses his single status and simple life. Many online applications later, he gets a job at bookstore in San Diego, California. His busy job as a stockroom clerk takes a toll on his relationship. With the sparks in their love life gone, Phillip’s eyes start wandering while Melissa begins wondering about other men in the law firm. Both begin having regrets and develop doubts about their life as an engaged couple. They seem to have nothing in common even as their jobs push them further apart. Eventually, they break up and Phillip is faced with an uncertain future even as he gets promoted. Stockboy Nation by Thomas Duffy presents one man’s journey as he faces the consequences of the choices he makes along the way.
Stockboy Nation presented many workplace issues and Duffy's narrative was amusing. Furthermore, the many types of relationships provided realistic and relatable issues. Duffy gave me a glimpse of the world of dating websites and a good narrative about the COVID-19 pandemic that caused many deaths around the world. He was able to make me visualize Phillip as the character went through challenging events.
Phillip was a weakling and pessimist. Though observant, he was inclined to stereotype and find faults in every person he encountered. He had no ambition and backed down from problems easily. He was one confused man. I found him dense, arrogant and unlikeable. I could not count the number of times I shook my head in disbelief at his actions. Phillip’s character was so negative I could not understand what endeared him to Melissa and his potential partner LeeAnn; I could not find any redeeming quality in him. His co-worker he called The Candy Man was likable than him and this character was far more interesting.
Melissa’s indifference to her relationship with Phillip was so clinical I could only laugh in disbelief. The couple’s sarcastic remarks at each other were humorous and confusing at the same time. Despite her apparent coldness and the casual way she talked about their relationship, I thought Melissa was a compassionate person. Despite LeeAnn’s unbelievable fascination with Phillip, I found her sweet and her logic feasible. I liked her character. It looked like all the characters around Phillip were way better than him.
The pacing of the first half of the book was very slow and dragging but the story picked up when the pandemic came into the story. The book’s setting amidst the pandemic made the novel current, relatable and it saved the book from being boring. If this aspect was removed from the story, the novel would be merely about a man suffering bouts of depression or going through a mid-life crisis. I commend the author for evoking varied emotions in me as I read the novel.
There were many missing punctuation marks like commas, hyphens, periods and quotation marks.
The novel was engaging hugely because of its relevance and the timely plot. However, the existence of many grammatical errors led me to believe a proofreading tool was unutilized. Thus, I give Stockboy Nation by Thomas Duffy 3 out of 4 stars.
If you like to read a novel about current world issues like depression, anxiety and the pandemic the world is fighting at present, Stockboy Nation is for you. But if you are looking for exciting romance or adventure, you have to look elsewhere.
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