A dynamic debut novel about friendship, coffee, and a mysterious corporation’s dark secret.
The two men at the center of Montlack’s eclectic work, J.D. Pence and George Unger, have been best friends since childhood despite—or perhaps because of—their very different personalities. J.D. has always been a wisecracking, mischievous risk-taker while his roommate, the scrawny, reserved, nerdy, bespectacled George, seems grateful to be involved in whatever trouble his friend gets into. The snappy story catches up with the uncommon duo just after college; George laments getting a degree in English while J.D., who majored in engineering, frets over their rent and his mammoth student loan obligations. They live in Middlestop, a “dying steel town,” and their job search finds them both applying to BrewCorp, a coffee and retail sales conglomerate that’s hiring recent graduates as interns. Soon after they’re hired, J.D. hatches a plan to fast-track himself up the BrewCorp corporate ladder through the development of a revolutionary fiber-optic network that could move not just data, but also coffee from one place to another—which would, in turn, boost company sales and heighten marketplace visibility. In Montlack’s well-executed, darkly humorous comedy of errors, things between the two men disintegrate when J.D. sacrifices their friendship for his ambitions, which include making a move on Cerri Morgan, whom George had just begun to date. Then underdog George turns the tables and gets a promotion in an unexpected way. Montlack distorts the story’s reality with a truly zany divergence—J.D. discovers a coffin in George’s room, and things get even crazier when BrewCorp’s true machinations are revealed. (It’s not for nothing that J.D. calls his employers “a bunch of bloodsuckers.”) Although the book’s horror element is initially jarring, it’s also a hilarious plot zinger that hijacks the tone of the novel and adds fun texture to a tale that could’ve easily become mired in hipster jealousy and betrayal.
A weirdly addictive genre amalgam sure to enthrall readers of oddball fiction.