This book is loaded with twenty-something cynicism, which normally I find a bit too much after a while, but here it really works. The main character, who is the only perspective the author uses, reads people so well that this book feels like commentary on the contemporary world. Very few characters in this book are likable – even the main character is a thief and liar from the get-go – but you kind of care about them even in their idiocy. As the main character points out, all people are assholes and it’s only in understanding this that dealing with each other is navigable.
As for the setting, it’s clear that the author’s observational skills stretch beyond believable characterization. The depth of detail that the author uses to give us a picture of the world behind the scenes of amusements parks is delightful. Several little quirks of amusement parks make complete sense, but you get the sense that Jourden has seen it all firsthand, which adds a lot to the story.
Really, the thing I liked most about this book was how it felt like commentary on this type of girl, that type of guy, and the general approach of this generation towards smart phones and actual human interaction. “Petty” is a perfect title because the story is equally about the main character’s thievery and the ways these people act in relation to each other. All the while, the main character’s secret theft laces the story with a bit of tension, although there’s no real plot other than the day-to-day drudgery in the amusement park trenches. All the drinking and drama and talk about sex gets a little old, but again…twenty-somethings. It all works, even if you want to throttle them. The fact that the main character is as fed up as I was made me root for him even more.
As for the writing, it’s very clever, simple, and well done. I found very few goofs, all completely forgivable. The story perhaps dragged in terms of pacing here or there, but it’s supposed to feel like these awful work days are repetitive and never-ending, so even that works to the story’s benefit.
Definitely worth a read if you’re a sarcastic, observational smart-ass. I enjoyed it greatly.