Monday, October 6, 2014

Your actions are being dictated by "The Manipulator"

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"The Manipulator" by Steve Lundin isn't a prep book for a chiropractic final exam.  Far from it.  Instead of relief, the visitors to Blowfish's advertising firm often leave with grief and disbelief.

Jack Vance, owner of Blowfish, is one of those guys that make you really hope that there is such a thing as karma.  Jack is all about business, and the business that Jack enjoys the most is making obscene amounts of money.  Sure, there are the women, awesome cars, hard drugs, and booze - but it is money that makes Jack Vance's world turn.

So when a new mobile network that will be viewed on everyone's phones needs a big-time launch, who else are you going to turn to but Blowfish? Blowfish is THE marketing firm that puts the edge in cutting edge.  So what show does he pitch to MVN networks for their launch?  A show called "Some Will Die", which gives a fantasy life to anyone who can lose half of their body weight in a set amount of time.  But Jack always has an angle - he is willing to bet that once exposed to the good life, the winner will cut down on the expense account of the show be over indulging themselves to the point of death.

You can't get Jane Fonda or Richard Simmons to run this contest - way to tame and lame.  So who.....  Vance gets a great idea to get the Russian winner of :"Survivor: Cherynobol", Vlad Berber.  The fact that Berber is currently in a Mexican jail for manslaughter only adds to the appeal of having him as "host" of the show.

But even this isn't enough of a "event" for Vance.  He is going to launch the new network during the Super Bowl.  When people get in "all or nothing" situations - there are often a lot of "casualties" along the way.  But when a Congressman who was forced out of two political parties due to weight, a former employee of Blowfish who might have just enough knowledge of the scheme, and the CEO of a rival marketing firm form an alliance to make Jack's life miserable - things start to become personal.


I thoroughly loved this book.  Really, I can't remember reading a book in which I despised almost every single character to the point that I had to keep reading hoping that the saying "Karma is a bitch" might turn out to be true.  The characters were built up just enough to make you look forward to them getting their due, but wanting karma to hold off long enough to see how the myriad of plots finished up around him.

I thought Steve Lundin did an excellent job with this book.  The pacing was great, the characters were at times not very likable , and the plotting and actions of everyone borders on despicable.    Put this all together, and you have something resembling a train wreck that you have to just watch.

The one thing that I appreciated was that Lundin kept Vance a complete jerk up to the end.  No moment of finding total redemption here - at least not by the end of this book.  Vance is a jerk, and he not only knows it - he embraces it!  Lundin didn't turn this into a morality play - and I think he made the exact right call.  I haven't met Steve Lundin, but I wish that George Lucas had him on his staff when he decided that Han Solo shooting Greedo first made him look like a bad guy.  Newsflash, Lucas!  Han Solo was a scoundrel -  that's why people loved him!  Oh well, if Lucas is going to take our heros and go all "politically correct" on everyone - at least we still have Jack Vance to count on for keeping in touch with who he really is....

As often is the case, when everyone has revenge on their mind, mixed with a total disregard for anyone but themselves - there just might be all losers and no winners.   Well there are a couple of definite winners - the author Steve Lundin and the readers of this book.