Cover Image: Black Buck

Black Buck

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Member Reviews

This book was unlike anything I’ve read before and I can’t believe it’s the author’s debut novel. I think it’s better to go into it not knowing much about the story. It’s definitely a book that will make you think and feel. Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!
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Thank you Netgalley for this ARC of Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour.

What an innovative and unique read.  It's definitely satire, but with the kind of laugh that has a bite to it.  Like when someone says something painfully true to you, followed up with "just kidding!"  This book could probably fill a few weeks of a college course about capitalism, modern America, and being black.  Definitely a lot to unpack.

Darren's life is modest, but happy.  He lives in a brownstone that him and his mother own.  He has a devoted girlfriend, and a nice job at Starbucks.  And while supervising Starbucks isn't a job to shout about, he loves it, and he's good about it.  But Darren knows that there's more out there, and for the sake of his hard working mother, he's anxious to find it.

So when a wealthy looking businessman comes in and tells him to come in for an interview, Darren is hesitant, but cautiously optimistic.  But he never could have imagined how quickly and dramatically his life would change.  Even his name is different, Buck, for his previous life at Starbucks.  But can he keep all of the things that matter while he works hard to have it all?

Holy cow, right when you think you've hit the climax of the book, and things can't possibly get harder, you realize that you've barely made it up the mountain and there is still SO far to go.  This book dives deep into the ugly world of hardcore business, and doing it while black.  And while it did get campy and extreme at some turns, it also shines a harsh light on many realities of today.  The ending was a bit unsatisfying, but overall, I was so immersed in the world that Askaripour created, and I would happily read more of his books.
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I really wanted to like this book. The first part I was all in but after the first 100 pages or so I found the stereotypes and satire were just too much for me.
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Rarely does a novel leave me reeling like this one has. I generally write my reviews immediately after finishing a book but I had to take some time to process this one first. 

This novel is not what I was expecting at all. I thought it would be a light, funny read. It absolutely is not. There is some dark humor that I appreciated but overall this is a story that will knock the wind out of your repeatedly. 

This is a story about race in America's workforce. The writing is sharp and stunning.  It's about stereotypes and how they play out in real life. It's also about identity and family, how to deal with societal expectations and stay true to oneself. 
It gives the reader a look at startup companies in the US, and how good intentions can quickly go south when faced with the possibility of wealth. 

I highly recommend this book  to readers of literary fiction.
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I loved this book.
Black Buck tells a compelling tale about racism greed and helping those with an unfair advantage.
From cover to cover it had me hooked.
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Unfortunately this book did not resonate with me. I did not enjoy the writing style and did not finish it.
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Darren Vender is a black man in his 20s, lives in Bed-Stuy with his mom, never went to college, and is working at Starbucks in a skyscraper building in Manhattan. When he captivates Rhett Daniels, CEO for a tech startup called Sumwun, he is offered a position at the company and his life changes. 

I honestly had no idea where this story would go, and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride! It definitely read like a movie or TV series - kept me intrigued from beginning to end. 

Askaripour is an extremely talented writer and developed these layered, complex characters. His writing is vivid, touching, comedic, inspiring. I can't wait to read more from him.
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This book blew me away! I was unable to but it down. Perfect, dazzlingly, very well written. The details the author described throughout the book was so amazing. The  characters and storyline were fantastic. The ending I did not see coming  Truly Amazing and appreciated the whole story. This is going to be a must read for many many readers. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! No spoilers. Beyond amazing I enjoyed this book so very much. The characters and storyline were fantastic. The ending I did not see coming  Could not put down nor did I want to. Truly Amazing and appreciated the whole story. This is going to be a must read for many many readers. Maybe even a book club pick.
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I was a bit conflicted with this one, tried to sit on it for a few days after I finished the book.   I was in Marketing for 23 years so I know how sales operates. It might not be this over-the-top, exaggerate scenarios, but I know how sales training can make or break your career. When you good, you are really good.  

Darren Vender, unambitious twenty-two-year-old lives in Bed-Stuy with his mother. After graduating valedictorian in high school, he does not make use of his potential and contents himself working in Starbucks. Then he met Rhett Daniels, CEO of Sumwun, NYC’s hottest tech startup. While ordering his usual beverage, Darren offers him different one that makes Rhett agrees. Right then and there, Rhett sees the potential in Darren and invite him to the part of his elite sales force. Being the only Black person in the company and enduring hell week of training, he is suddenly transform into a ruthless salesman unrecognzbale to everyone. When things are turning south and his plans of bringing in more people of color not just in the company but the whole of corporate America and the world, things get our of control and changes everything. 

This book started strong and I like how it was presented as a memoir type, giving out sales tip to readers, and being satirical with laugh out and cringey moments. Uncomfortable for some but these workplace microaggressions are real and happening. Though presented as satirical novel,  these have more dramas in it.   Once it reach the middle story, I feel like it was all over the place until the end. I did not like where the story is leading and the ending. I also find it too long, can be shorten with our affecting the story.  While reading it, I feel this will a good plot for a movie.  Though this book is written not for the most of us and we won’t be able to experience those presented here, I still enjoy the ride and reading this book. A solid debut and I cannot wait to see what the author will write next.


Thank you NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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This was not at all what I was expecting, but I really enjoyed it! I was surprised to find that the first and second halves of the books felt like two different books, and I appreciated that the author broke the book up into different parts. Each part had a definite tone that correlated with the events of that part. I felt myself simultaneously rooting for and disliking the main character, Darren (Buck). I liked the plot and felt that the way the author set up the point of view was very unique. And the ending! What a complete surprise to me. This book was definitely worth the read.
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This was unlike anything I have ever read before. The idea to write this book as a sales pitch was inspired. Watching Darren become Buck and get sucked into the cult of Sumwun was terrifying. You find yourself genuinely caring for Darren and wanting the best for him, while at the same time knowing that everything in his life is going to be changed.
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Thank you to NetGalley for an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Darren “Buck” is a 20 something black man living in Brooklyn, working as a supervisor at a Starbucks, when he seizes a rare opportunity by unintentionally impressing Rhett Daniels, the CEO of a new wildly successful mental health start up company, Sumwun. Though Rhett takes Buck on board as his own protégé, the racist head of sales, Clyde, makes Buck's life a living hell. Nonetheless, Buck climbs to success, proving himself time and time again. But with great success comes greater opportunity, and things become complicated when Buck gets sucked into his new world, and tries to overcorrect by helping his minority community reach the same opportunities he was given.

Buck was a challenging protagonist to like — at times he’s selfish and unkind, pushes away those that love him, and is blinded by opportunity. And yet, it’s also not difficult to see why he acts the way he does. The book definitely feels written through his eyes, and the amount of unabashed racism he experiences at Sumwun, let alone the challenges he contends with from the media and others, is infuriating and unwarranted. It was also shocking and frustating to see Rhett's treatment of him, gaslighting him as a protégé while continuously highlighting his minority status, linking it to his worth.

I can’t say there’s any character I truly enjoyed here, although Buck did somewhat redeem himself toward the end. I really appreciated that the book did not neatly tie itself up in the end, though I can’t say I am particularly invested in what happens to any of the characters. I do feel like the book could have been a bit shorter, maybe as the Happy Campers were being developed — also because the more we learned about the Happy Campers, the more exaggerated and outlandish the plot became.

Overall, this book was snarky and honest, which I enjoyed. A bit long and a bit prickly, but an important perspective to have been shared from the world of startup culture.
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I did not like this book at all. The plot is very random, going off in disparate directions and never really coalescing. The characters, none of whom one can really root for, switch between making extremely poor decisions to acting in such a way that does not coincide with the point the author was trying to make. The situations are not believable, especially in the present where this novel is set, and the  main issues the writer attempts to bring to light are obscured behind a muddled piece of nonsense. I enjoyed the narrator of the audiobook  but was extremely disappointed in this hyped-up novel as a whole.
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Black Buck is about a young man named Darren who has worked at Starbucks for four years. One day a man is ordering coffee and ends up giving Darren opportunity to work at a start up company that sells a vision. Darren wasn't initially interested but his mom and girlfriend convinced him to give it a try. Darren is one of three new hires, and the new hires have to go through hell week before they are able to be on their own. Darren is the only person of color in this entire office and he feels it. The rest of the book is his journey to becoming successful with some bumps along the way. 

Although I liked this book, I was bothered by the author's use of talk about the female character's bodies. It just felt very unnecessary and kind of made me uncomfortable. Other than that, I enjoyed the satire in this book. 

Thank you NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for allowing me to read this book for an honest review.
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With all the buzz this book is getting, I was expecting more. Instead, I closed the book feeling unfulfilled, with my only takeaway being, "this is why I'm not in sales." I don't think I recognized the satire. It's all too often true that white people will tell a black person that s/he looks like (fill in blank), when the only thing similar is the fact that they are both black. So, yes, it's kind of funny, but mostly it's kind of sad.

The blatant racism Darren encounters in the workplace from day one is extreme. (Maybe that is satirical, that people wouldn't wear it so proudly?) But somehow Darren gets on and thrives in the environment, and then helps other people of color to achieve as well.

I was really uncomfortable with the sales training methods, regardless of who it came from. I wished there was a more positive spin in the book. But I'm a softy who likes to feel good when I read a novel. Or at least who likes to read something that makes me feel something more than just being thankful that I'm not working with any of these characters.

My thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Loved everything about this story - the plot, the writing, the themes - definitely one to recommend. Bright future for this author!
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In the same way there’s no such thing as a halfway crook, there’s no such thing as a halfway success. In sales and life, you’re either all in or you’re not.

I picked Black Buck up with an open mind. I had seen this book all over social media and especially on Black bookstagram. I kept seeing people compare it to The Wolf of Wallstreet and stating that it was satirical. I thought for sure it would be a winner.

Darren Vender was a proud employee of Starbucks and loved his life for the most part. He had a job that he excelled at even though it wasn’t very challenging, a great relationship with his Mother, plenty of time to spend with his girlfriend and a pretty decent life. The only problem was Darren graduated from the Bronx School of Science as Valedictorian and everyone around him it seemed wanted more for his life than he appeared to. Darren understood their concern but he knew that he was waiting on the right opportunity to come along.
That opportunity came by way of Starbucks when he pitches a new coffee to one of his regular customers Rhett Daniels, CEO of the tech startup Sumwun that was housed in the same building as the Starbucks Darren was employed by. That successful sales pitch was the start of a new life for Darren, one that changed everything about life as he knew it. Thrust into a new sales career and being the only black person in the entire office, Darren was forced to reckon with the corporate culture that plagues so many industries. Darren was a fast learner and started incorporating the things he’d learned at Sumwun to every aspect of his life much to the detriment of his friends and family. That is where this book turns into a cautionary tale of the pitfalls of losing yourself to gain the world. Fed up with the way the game is set up for white people to win, Darren forms a secret organization called The Happy Campers to help black people in sales and try to even the playing field and make a contribution to society.

The first half of this book was very interesting and kept me intrigued to see what would happen next. At the halfway mark, this seemed to turn into a totally different book and started to feel disjointed. I feel like I forced myself to finish it. If the entire book had kept going like it started out, this could have easily been a 5 star read, but the second half even with a shocking ending just didn’t do it for me. From the reviews, it seems that I am in the minority of people who wasn’t impressed by this novel. I would give it a 3.5 star rating. While the second half of the book was lackluster, the portion I did love provided a lot of little sales gems and tips that can be applied no matter what your industry is I also appreciated what the author tried to do with this work even though I didn’t love the story and I would be open to reading more work by this author in the future. I’m not sure why people categorize this as satirical as there wasn’t very much humor for me. If you still want to give this book a shot, try it on audible. I’ve heard that the narration made it much more enjoyable.
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Black Buck is an in-depth story that examines Race and Ambition. It's about a man named Darren works as barista at a coffee cafe the at a tech start up company. He gets caught up in many different situations and becomes lost in his way. Buck fighting racism at work and the way he treats his family and his girlfriend.
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One of the best things I've ever read and it actually helped me in writing an assignment.  I know it's not aimed at me, but I felt it anyway.  My notes are extensive and probably unhelpful, but at one point, and I quote: "...since nslaved people weren allowed to learn how to readnwrote, when once of em somehow managed to become educated, it was his or her duty to teach as many as they could" - my ancestor could read and write.  It's why he was freed.

'"Once you learn how to sell, to truly sell, anyting is possible",  Reader: Quote that last sentence'.

Yes, sir.  Read this.  It will change your life.
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Hilarious and witty! Was happy to see this one take off, will be purchasing my own copy to support the author.
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