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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 17, 2009
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was intrigued by the concept of this book so I had to give it a go. I had not read "e", but since it seemed successful, I thought this might be worth it. It was entirely worth it! I had expected just a series of emails, but was surprised to find emails, IMs, texts, etc. not only from the staff themselves, but also including family, friends, and anyone who can provide an angle on the story.

At first I thought I would get lost in the maze of communication and maybe even have to start a list of the characters to keep it all straight. But after a bit I realized that I did not even need to read the "To" or "From" lines anymore; I knew who was writing by the style and the issue. It felt much more voyeuristic than a conventional book; making me feel somewhat like I was sneaking around with stolen correspondence. The format also encouraged me to fill in the missing bits with my imagination rather than spoon-feeding me everything the author thinks I *should* know.

Now I cannot wait to read "e"! I highly recommend this book to anyone who finds the concept at all intriguing. I sincerely believe that you will not be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 24, 2010
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
TheWilyBadger: Just got done reading new book

Arthurthepanther: what is it?

TheWilyBadger: A rectangular object with pages in it but that's not important right now ^_^

Arthurthepanther: shutup

TheWilyBadger: It's called e2

TheWilyBadger: Well suppossd to be e-squared but I cant figure out how to do the 2 like a square root in text.

Arthurthepanther: whats it abt?

TheWilyBadger: It's a series of emails and texts and stuff between people in an office talk about their lives and stuff.

Arthurthepanther: Good?

TheWilyBadger: Good. Reminds me of "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society"

Arthurthepanther: What? How? Why?

TheWilyBadger: It's British-ish and written as communications between people rather than dialogue

TheWilyBadger: It has a little more swearing tho

Arthurthepanther: cute :P You liked it tho?

TheWilyBadger: Yeah. The characters are a little broad, but they have to be for the format. They're pretty fun though and HH is my hero (he's a "Doctor Who" fan).

Arthurthepanther: Oh they have those in England?

TheWilyBadger: Ha. Ha. Anyhow the plot is kind of all over the place and it's kind of disjointed but that's part of the charm. I really liked it! I'll probably be ordering the first book in the series, which I think is called (character limit exceeded, remainder in next message)

TheWilyBadger: e

Arthurthepanther: cool so you think i should read it/

TheWilyBadger: Since you like funny things and have a somewhat demented sense of humor, you'll enjoy it. People a bit more straight-laced or overly fond of narrative structure won't.

Arthurthepanther: cool now go away so I can go back to watching Caprica

TheWilyBadger: Frak off :P
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2009
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I wasn't sure what to expect of this sequel to Beaumont's "e: A Novel". I received this book as an advanced reading copy through the Amazon Vine program. I have never read "e" but heard it was very funny. So, I was looking forward to reading "e2" in hopes that it would be just as amusing.

This book follows a variety of people at Meerkat360 advertising firm. In addition to the people working there, it also follows more closely the life of director of the company Don Cutter and his lawyer wife, Janet, as they struggle through their lives with their family and trying to deal with their overwhelming jobs. The struggling ad agency ends up getting big gigs both marketing off-beat celebrity perfumes (Margaret Thatcher perfume is one example) and mini-cigarettes (aimed at kids of course). The entirety of the story is told through e-mails, blog posts, and IMs.

To say that the characters in this book are dysfunctional is putting it mildly. This book is full of wacky and zany characters who can't possibly represent the human race as we know it. Beaumont does a surprisingly good job getting across a mostly cohesive story through e-mails, blog posts, and IMs. Not having read the first book, I felt like I missed some things that could have been funny, especially references to various characters' pasts. Still this book can be read as a stand-alone without reading the first one. The general story is independent of the the first book.

The book made me laugh more than a few times. It was a surprisingly funny book and the way it was written, all in electronic communication, was novel and interesting. At points some of the communication between characters are very realistic and remind me of some of the stupider things I have had to put up with at work.

Unfortunately more than a few times it made me groan at wackiness that was just too contrived and crazy to ever take place. At points this book went a bit over the top for me. As far as characters go, there is not a redeemable one in the whole of this book. The whole book is about a bunch of tossers, who all get what they deserve. Sometimes it is funny, sometimes it was pitiful. There are a lot of characters to keep track of too; also Beaumont doesn't clarify what chat IDs belong to which characters so you have to struggle through that in the beginning and figure it out as you go.

Overall I liked the novelty of the book and it was amusing. It is a long book though, and I got kind of sick of reading about all of this contrived wackiness, towards the end of the book I just wanted to be done with it. The characters were a bit too over the top for me, and although at times amusing, they were also annoying. Reading 500 pages of e-mails and IMs got a bit old too. I would have preferred this book as a shorter version, the story was just a bit too drawn out.

I think people who like "Office Space" and "The Office" TV series will get into this book. I am actually a big fan of both, but still found the characters in this book to be a bit much at times and the story to be too drawn out. So, I guess if you are really into over-the-top humor on top of being an "Office" fan, then this would be the perfect book for you. I probably won't read any more of these books in the future; I just didn't enjoy it as much as I was hoping.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 2, 2009
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
But only *slightly*.

If you've ever worked in marketing, worked for someone who's worked in marketing, lived with someone who's in the industry, or read an advertisement -- you've love this book. I sat down yesterday to glance through it and four hours later, found myself neck-deep in the hilarious lives of these fictional advertisers, at an agency that could have been any one of a hundred just in this area. It's fairly clear that Beaumont is an ad man; his caricatures of the way things work in modern agencies are just too spot-on for him not to.

Better, the way the story is told is original. A series of emails, texts, and IM conversations between the major players -- a little odd and hard to follow at first (for me, at least), but it felt a little like the reader's allowed to play peeping tom, minus the creepy factor, by the end. In addition, Beaumont's style is laugh-out-loud funny, and in places, I had to actually close the book to avoid losing my place from the tears in my eyes. (And I wondered, just a *little*, if he'd been to my agency. I think I know some of these people. And we're not far from Galax, VA. Which won't make any sense unless you read the book, which you definitely should.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 20, 2010
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In a collection of emails, the lives of a group of interesting characters unfold -- and unravel, for that matter. Horrible things happen, relationships crumble, people grow desperate, coincidences pile up ... and then the novel ends. It's an enjoyable read, and it's clever, but it's unsatisfying. No one grows, learns or develops. It's like random collisions among the characters. Or possibly like real life, if you have an unusually eventful life.

The details of the lives of these people are interesting, the voices are worth listening to, and the events are striking. I just wish they got somewhere.
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VINE VOICEon February 17, 2010
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I remember ten years ago when e: A Novel--the book that this is a sequel to--first came out. As a fan of epistolary novels, I was fascinated by the concept of updating them using e-mail instead of letters. Somehow, I never got around to reading the original novel. However, when I saw that Beaumont had written a sequel, I jumped at the opportunity to read it. If I enjoyed it, I would go back and re-read the first novel. I am glad that is how things played out or I might have missed out on this very amusing, laugh-out-loud novel.

The first thing that struck me was that Beaumont had updated the concept with the times. In addition to e-mail, the story is told via IMs, text messages, blogs, and many other tools of electronic communication we use everyday. What impressed me most about this approach was how all of these elements simultaneously seemed real--like text, IMs, e-mails, etc.--that one might actually receive--and how they seamlessly told the story. As I would come to find out once I picked up the first novel, this was not the case in the original novel, where the e-mails were often excessively long and shared details that no one actually would share via e-mail. The original felt to me like it was written first as a novel and then broken into e-mails. E Squared does not feel as clunky. The gimmick contributes fully to the story being told. I am willing to admit that this criticism might have more to do with reader perception. It is highly likely that the way we communicate in e-mail has changed over the past 10 years. Each novel may accurately reflect how e-mail (etc.) was used at the time and the original just seems odd to me because I have forgotten how we communicated in e-mail when it was in its infancy.

The one difference that I really liked about this novel when comparing it to the original is that the story moved outside of the office and included family members and others. Many of these characters brought some of the most amusing storylines into the novel. Another real plus for this novel (which again may have been a plus for "e" that I miss reading it now) is its hilarious take on contemporary trends in advertising, the business world, popular media, and today's culture in general. It is definitely a novel that reflects our zeitgeist and hilariously comments on some of the more ridiculous aspects.

The book itself is extremely funny. I frequently found myself laughing out loud and sharing passages with my wife as I read it. I also frequently found myself sitting down to read for a few minutes and realizing that I had been reading for quite a while and had covered many pages, which is always the mark of an enjoyable book for me. The only criticism I have of this book (and it is very minor) is that I wish Beaumont had included something like tweets or status updates along with all the e-mails, IMs, text messages, etc. It seems that the character-limited updates are the method of communication that are most used in today's world. I would really like to have seen how these could have figured into the novel. Perhaps, these (or whatever is coming next) will be featured in a subsequent novel.

Ultimately, this novel succeeds quite well at what it aims to be: a thoroughly amusing comedy of contemporary office, family, and social life. I recommend it highly to anyone looking for something to make them laugh. Even if you have not read the first novel (or, you read it and were not particularly impressed), this is a novel that can be enjoyed thoroughly on its own merits.
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on January 14, 2010
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I don't remember the first book so much besides the fact that I laughed hard throughout. Even as I read this book, I wasn't entirely certain who these people were beyond vague memories but that didn't detract from this book. This isn't a deep book that will stay with you throughout the years, but it is a funny book and it reads fast and that's sometimes what you need.

Beyond that, it also reminds me of my time as a Web designer. When I was a Web designer, I'd get sent to advertising firms and I always loved them. I never lasted very long because I wasn't a very good Web designer (this was in 2000 when everyone was a Web designer - good times.) But I always had a nose pressed to the glass feeling in these places - like if I were to settle down and get a real job, advertising is what I'd want to do. How many other jobs can you talk about a successful campaign using the term "we were so wasted"? And even though recreational drug use isn't automatically part of the advertising business, how else do you explain Charlie the Tuna with an overwhelming desire to be killed and eaten like a lonely German? The few episodes of Mad Men: Season 2 I saw really didn't bring that anarchic feeling (but then again that was 60s advertising firms and not the 70s advertising that gave us suicidal fish and store owners so anal retentive that they freaked out when people grabbed toilet paper the wrong way) that I come to expect from advertising.

This book - told through emails, blog posts and ebay sales - is not just a farce but also a celebration of the crazy world of advertising where jobs are insecure by design and any expense can be justified under the rubric of "creative inspiration" (ok, the clown is an exaggeration but I don't know any bank that insists upon putting fooseball tables in the break room). There are about three main interconnected stories and 3-4 subplots that weave between each other with aplomb. The main boss is angry and dealing with his pregnant wife and crazy kids. The account manager is stealing everything in the office to pay off gambling debts. The secretaries are beset with delusions of grandeur. Harvey Harvey believes every spam email hitting his mail box.

Hilarious book and a fast read. Buy it for yourself and your friends.
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
From the Amazon Vine selections came this recreational reading choice... e Squared: A Novel by Matt Beaumont. The premise sounded interesting from my techie background... a story told as a series of emails, SMS text messages, and blogs. Set in a "hip" ad agency, I could imagine that there would be a few characters involved. And Beaumont didn't disappoint. I haven't read his first E novel, but if it's anything like this one, I probably should. e Squared is zany, very off-beat, and cruelly hilarious.

The story is structured around the different personalities that work at Meerkat360, an ad agency in England. Each of the characters has some interesting quirks that make them quite memorable. Liam O'Keefe is a loser who is deeply in debt, including owing major sums to two different loan sharks. He's forever nicking items from the office and selling them on eBay to make extra money. David Crutton is the director of the agency and has an anger management problem. He's also quite distant from his wife, who is in her 40's and just found out she's pregnant. He prefers to only communicate with her via email and let his secretary take care of all the things he should be doing. Caroline Zitter is has the title of "The Seer", but she's always off attending some strange management or personal improvement conference. So her parts in the book are always out-of-office messages stating where she's at and when she'll be back in the office... at which time she has another out-of-office message for the next conference she's at. And that's only a small sampling of the office. During the year that is covered, O'Keefe tries to lure back a lost love, dodge loan sharks, commit suicide, and make up for all the rotten stuff in his life. Crutton gets thrown out of his house, gets his daughter and son tattooed, nearly kills daughter when tattoo gets infected, and has to fly to Finland to find his son (who ran off to see a death metal band concert and got injured, losing his memory). And again, that's only a small part of all the strange and bizarre things that go on at Meerkat360...

You have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy this. It is *not* a realistic look at an ad agency. It is *not* a true-to-life portrayal of people. It's simply over-the-top fun and lunacy. And while you know these people aren't real, you do see exaggerated glimpses of many people that you've probably worked with or known over the years. That's probably what makes it so funny. e Squared is good comedy with a unique style of storytelling. I enjoyed it.

Obtained From: Amazon Vine Review Program
Payment: Free
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VINE VOICEon December 29, 2009
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I didn't realize that this novel was a sequel and, as such, I was at a bit of a loss when I began reading it, as I hadn't read "e". It took me a bit to warm up to it, but it turned out to be a good, entertaining read.

The book is framed by e-mail "newsletters" written by Janie Crutton, a lawyer married to workaholic ad man David Crutton. These newsletters set the tone, and I couldn't help but laugh at them. Whenever I receive newsletters like these, I always wonder if life could possibly be as good as it sounds in them. I enjoyed Beaumont's winking cleverly at the Christmas newsletter as, let's face it, they often come across as very pretentious.

This novel has a large cast of characters and, because it's told in the form of e-mails, text messages, etc. it's sometimes hard to keep up with who's who. Perhaps this would have been easier for me if I'd read the first novel, but I thought that, in general, the characters were all well-done and all quite unique.

The novel abounds with madcap antics and is very over-the-top at times. There are some moments of genuine hilarity, such as the ridiculously pretentious blogging of a former adman turned expat in France. If you don't speak French, it would be hard to keep up with these blogs. The French is translated in a later section of the book, but I think that this part of the novel works especially well for those fluent in French as I can't help but think it would lose some impact if you had to wait for the translation. I immediately realized that our intrepid Brit in France wasn't quite getting the gist of his friend Papin's very salty dialog. Papin is not the only character fond of using some pretty colorful language, though, as the denizens of Meerkat360 are also rather fond of risque language.

The best part of "e2" is the way it pokes fun at the advertising business, best exemplified by Meerkat360's advertising campaign for GIT (not exactly a flattering British slang word), an American tobacco company. Beaumont himself works for an advertising agency, and he does a wonderful job of showing how unscrupulous advertisers can be. Yes, this is fiction and the ad campaigns in the book are admittedly over the top but, then, isn't advertising in reality a bit over the top?
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on December 26, 2009
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Matt Beaumont's E-SQUARED is the ultimate guilty pleasure -- 500 pages of e-mails that tap such a humorous vein that you'd think you had administrator's privileges to snoop on an adult-version of Dilbert's office. Every exchange has four lines atop the e-mail: "From," "To," "Sent," and "Subject." After awhile, you'll quickly glance only at "From" and "To," but you may want to catch the "Subject" line now and again for a gag line as well.

Not many novels are situated in the workplace and not many are written entirely in e-mail format, either, so some readers may be thrilled while others may be distracted. Fortunately, Beaumont should keep you laughing enough to make the format a secondary consideration. David Crutton ("The Man") heads an advertising agency that takes no prisoners in its drive for money. In fact, the needs of the business seem to be more important than his unexpectedly-pregnant (in her mid-40's!) wife. In addition to these leads, we have a tremendous supporting cast of office supply thieves, a newly-hired office clown, a pit bull receptionist, and (speaking of!) a mad pit bull high on sugar that goes wild through the office one night (the same night as another employee walks the ledge and threatens suicide, only to be filmed by numerous employees who upload his exploits to youtube).

If you like life on the Internet more than reading, you might take to this "novel" in a big way. And if you like reading more than the Internet, you might be beguiled, too. Beaumont's ear for humor is fine-tuned, and he knows the habits and quirks of the workplace all too well. E-SQUARED is surprisingly entertaining and, for lack of a better word, fun. If your looking for something new in the humor aisle, give it a browse.
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