Ripe

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Pub Date 15 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 8 Aug 2023

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Description

'My face melted into this book' - Emily Austin  

'Etter continues to push the boundaries of her imagination... and ours' - Melissa Broder  

A year into her dream job at a cutthroat Silicon Valley startup, Cassie is trapped in a corporate nightmare. Between the long hours, toxic bosses and unethical projects, she struggles to reconcile the glittering promise of a city where obscene wealth lives alongside abject poverty. Ivy League grads complain about the snack selection from a conference room with a view of houseless people bathing in the bay. Startup burnouts leap into the paths of commuter trains and men literally set themselves on fire in the streets.

Though isolated, Cassie is never alone. From her earliest memory, the black hole has been her constant companion. It feeds on her depression and anxiety, its size changing in relation to her distress. The black hole watches, but it also waits. Its relentless pull draws Cassie ever closer as the world around her unravels.

When her CEO's demands cross an illegal line and her personal life spirals towards a bleak precipice, Cassie must decide whether the tempting fruits of Silicon Valley are worth the pain, or succumb to the black hole.

'My face melted into this book' - Emily Austin  

'Etter continues to push the boundaries of her imagination... and ours' - Melissa Broder  

A year into her dream job at a cutthroat Silicon Valley...


Advance Praise

PRAISE FOR RIPE

'Holy Shit, this book wrecked me!' - Samantha Irby

'Ripe is brilliant - a distinctive, sharp, engrossing window into late-stage capitalism. My face melted into this book' - Emily Austin

'Ripe is a triumph - blade sharp and unflinching. It walks a darkly gorgeous tightrope between the bitter and beautiful with skill that takes your breath away. '- Sophie Mackintosh

'Reading this book felt like pressing repeatedly on a bruise; the most pleasurable kind of pain... Sarah Rose Etter is truly one hell of a writer' - Kristen Arnett  


PRAISE FOR SARAH ROSE ETTER

THE BOOK OF X

WINNER OF THE 2019 SHIRLEY JACKSON AWARD

A BUZZFEED, VULTURE, AND THRILLIST BEST BOOK OF 2019

A FINALIST FOR THE 2019 BELIEVER BOOK AWARD

'Etter brilliantly, viciously lays bare what it means to be a woman in the world, what it means to hurt, to need, to want, so much it consumes everything' — Roxane Gay

'I loved every page of this gorgeous, grotesque, heart-breaking novel' — Carmen Maria Machado

'Insightful and incisive, this book cuts deep into the failing heart of the feminine mystique. Etter is a surgeon' — Amelia Gray

'Lays bare the absurdities of womanhood. truly original… Etter continues to push the boundaries of her imagination...and ours' - Melissa Broder

PRAISE FOR RIPE

'Holy Shit, this book wrecked me!' - Samantha Irby

'Ripe is brilliant - a distinctive, sharp, engrossing window into late-stage capitalism. My face melted into this book' - Emily Austin

'...


Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9780857308511
PRICE £9.99 (GBP)
PAGES 256

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Featured Reviews

Ripe by Sarah Rose Etter is a painfully sad novel that captures what it's like to suffer from depression and anxiety and how that can be compounded by how you feel at work.

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4.5 stars

Ohh this book had me hooked straight away! The writing was so addictive and I love how the author described certain feelings and pain we all go through. Will definitely be reading more by this author

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Devoured this in one evening. Absolutely beautifully written, with a suffocating and intense depiction of mental health and pressure. Looking forward to seeing more titles from Sarah Rose Etter!

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Thos was incredible. Heartbreaking, sharp, dark. It unflinchingly shows the reality of working in Silicon Valley, the dark truths about our capitalist society, misogyny, depression, and also touching on homelessness, abortion rights, drug addiction and suicide. It's quite a heavy read, treading the delicate line between sharp & funny and dark & sad. I found the symbolism of the pomegranate interesting but it got old by the tenth time a pomegranate was mentioned. I hoped for a bit more subtlety in the book, but it defintiely hits the spot if you're looking for a "sad girl summer" vibr book. The writing is great, I read this in two sittings but would have easily done it in one if I'd had the time!

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I really enjoyed this book and the writing style. It was fast paced and i could not put it down, the ending was not my favourite and felt a little rushed.

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I loved this book, really represented the society we currently live in; endless routine and false happiness. I love the main character and related to her in the sense of feeling out of place in certain settings. The writing style is amazing and it is a very interesting book to read. Highly recommend!

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“Ripe” is magical! Beautiful torn prose, poetic reflections, spot-on remarks on what society expects from us.

We all carry our own black hole with us – some are shrunk to the dot on a piece of paper, some are so big you cannot see sky behind them. The protagonist Cassie’s black hole is a living breathing thing that is as part of this novel as the city of San Francisco – like Dostoevsky’s Saint Petersburg, San Francisco is a jewellery box filled with treasures for some, and a matchbox filled with dump matches for the others. “Ripe” is, ultimately, such a sad book, but it is elegiac in its sadness, a well-written reflection on the world we live in - centring on a tech-industry, modern culture and values in the society with ever-shifting norms, endless need to prove oneself and crazy demands of the corporate world (my god did I recognise some of the characters!).

Absolutely recommended.

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The American Dream - get a job, pay your taxes, work yourself to death and if you’re lucky get two weeks of a year.

With Ripe, Etter is unwavering in the picture she paints with crystalline precision of the abject failure of modern life, the nuclear family and the insatiable desire of capitalism.

The toxic workplace culture that seemed so alien to myself in Europe many years ago is slowly leaking across the pond so whilst this feels like everyday life for those trying to survive - it feels like a warning to the rest of us.

Ripe covers a great deal of ground in just over 200 pages and almost nothing feels superfluous. I’m sure I’m likely alone in this but the addition of a growing and mysterious pandemic to the story felt unnecessary and given the short time that had elapsed since our shared experience of this it didn’t feel exactly do anything but take up room.

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3.5 stars. Ripe is a novel about corporate toxicity, and follows a young women named Cassie who takes a job in San Francisco where it values productivity over everything else, including Cassie’s time, mental health and physical well-being. The novel explores the problems of millennial corporate jobs through dark satire as the company becomes increasingly suffocating and problematic.

My main problem with the novel was that I felt it had a slight lack of nuance and I think the critiques of corporate culture, toxic positivity within friendships and the sadness of addiction could have worked well with more subtlety. It sometimes felt like it was overdone causing the dialogue to feel forced and unnatural.

This being said, when the book was good, it was REALLY good. It definitely had an air of MYORAR to it and I found the setting of San Francisco to be a great antithesis to what was supposed to be Cassie’s ‘perfect’ life. I also loved the bits with the chef and the whole story line around him I found really sad and intriguing, especially how it ended I was really moved by these sections of the book.

The ideas I wish had just been a little more tied together, the drugs, the job, the relationship, the friends, the ideas of motherhood, the random virus thing? Sometimes felt like there was a bit too much going on. But this is definitely a book I recommend and think is going to do really well in its genre.

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Ripe by Sarah Rose Etter is a novel that defies categorization. Part surrealistic fairy tale, part coming-of-age story, the book explores the strange and often uncomfortable intersections of the physical and the psychological, the real and the imagined.

The novel follows the story of four generations of women in a small, isolated town in the middle of a desert. At the center of the story is the character of Mab, a young woman who struggles to find her place in the world as she navigates the complexities of her relationships with her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.

One of the strengths of Ripe is Etter's rich and evocative prose. Her descriptions of the town and its inhabitants are vivid and unsettling, and she has a talent for creating a sense of unease that permeates the entire book. The novel is both surreal and grounded in reality, blurring the lines between the two in a way that is both unsettling and captivating.

Another strength of the book is its exploration of themes such as female identity, sexuality, and the power dynamics of family relationships. Etter's characters are complex and fully realized, with flaws and contradictions that make them feel like real people.

While Ripe is not an easy book to read, it is a rewarding one. Etter's writing is both challenging and thought-provoking, and her story is both strange and deeply affecting. It is a book that will stay with you long after you have turned the final page.

Ripe is a haunting and unforgettable novel that is sure to appeal to readers who are looking for something different. Etter's writing is bold and innovative, and her story is both strange and deeply affecting. It is a book that deserves to be read and discussed.

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oh my god. this was good. one of my most highly anticipated new releases of 2023, and it did not disappoint. sarah rose etter didn’t lie, she wrote a banger.

beautiful, poignant, evocative. it perfectly captures the melancholic monotony of working a 9-5 job at the clst of a deteriorating mental health. it’s genius.

cassie (including her black hole) is such a tender character and some moments with her were so utterly vulnerable that it made me ache with sympathy, empathy some times too. this is definitely sad girl literature - could see shades of ling ma’s “severance”, moshfegh’s “my year of rest and relaxation” in this. if you enjoyed those, you’d enjoy this.

can’t wait to get my hands on a physical book so i can reread it and highlight, annotate certain lines, paragraphs.

thank you so much to sarah rose etter and her uk team for granting me an early ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Visceral and mind-bending, I loved how weird and poignant this novel is. This book drips with disdain for the 'rat race', the perpetuation that sacrificing yourself for your career is the only way to be truly successful. our main character is chaotic and self-destructive, but her motivations are so clearly defined by her narcissistic mother and disengaged father. Etter's writing makes you want to punch every single character in the best, most satisfying way. the plot is very much an 'open to interpretation' style so I think every reader could pull something different out of the story, which I find really interesting. Loved!

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The description doesn't do this novel justice, if you ask me. It presents the story as a contemporary, set in Silicon Valley, that deals with depression and a toxic workplace... and while this isn't untrue, it doesn't capture what Ripe actually does.

It is books like this that get under my skin. I can read about gore, abuse, war, horrific tragedy and, while I am moved, I don't feel depressed. This book is depressing. And I feel it should come with a warning to those struggling with depression precisely because it is so good at capturing the darkness of that feeling, that head place where everything in the world takes on an ugliness.

Ripe uses elements of magical realism-- namely, a black hole that follows Cassie around, waxing and waning with her mood --and the writing itself is sometimes dreamy and poetic. At times, it feels slightly satirical. It is certainly not what I would describe as a regular contemporary novel. But I did find the short, hard-hitting chapters really compelling and effective.

Cassie attempts to survive in a job that constantly demands more from her than she can physically give. She attempts to have a relationship with a man who, no matter how appealing, will never be truly available to her. She attempts to keep going, get up, go to work, keep smiling, as the homeless sleep on the streets around her, as the company she works for exploits another eager young worker. She feels herself playing the game, shitting on others to keep her job, and hates herself for it. To cope, she imagines she is two people-- the real her, and her fake self.

The ending felt a little unfinished to me, but I have no clue how you should end a story like this.

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A post for Ripe from Sarah Rose Etter appeared on my Instagram feed not long ago. Toxic work culture, the topic of the book, certainly is a much debated topic between me and my friends and so Ripe quickly piqued my interest.

With the impending pandemic as a backdrop Cassie finds herself in a soul-sucking Silicon Valley job, that values productivity over everything else, including her well-being, mental health and spare time. In the book we follow her sliding further into her own personal black hole of a demanding job, rising living costs and an unhealthy relationship. Yet, each morning she chooses this lifestyle that slowly burns her out all over again.

Sarah Rose Etter uses definitions as a way to give a backstory, which perfectly gives more context on Cassie's character. Ultimately the book was much darker than I expected it to be and was quite an exception to my very slow reading habit this year as I could rarely put it down.

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Wowowowowow! I can't remember the last time I was so completely sucked in by a novel. Whatever it was that Etter did here, all of it worked for me. The inside peek at the dark underbelly of the Silicon Valley startup industry would have been funny, if it wasn't so horrific. Cassie's soul-crushing anxiety and depression was palpable. I loved the end-time vibes: wildfires, a new virus, the shrinking middle class. It will give you all of the feels, in the best possible way.

I won't include a summary here because the blurb provided by the publishing company is spot-on. BIG thanks to Etter, VERVE Books, and NetGalley for this winner!

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Ripe is a raw and sadly relatable book about depression, anxiety and the impacts of unhealthy work-life balance/relationship with work. This is quite an impactful read with incredibly unique and beautiful prose that sucks you right in and takes you on an emotional journey. Although this is a slow read it is definitely worth reading and I highly recommend.

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Cassie has a black hole following her everywhere.
Sometimes it's really big, sometimes it gets smaller. Sometimes it sings, sometimes it's her silent companion.
She works in tech where she hurts due to the inequality of living in the Silicon Valley - we learn she is earning 6 figures a year, but she can barely afford to eat, after paying her rent, bills and student loan.
Her tech job overworks her and expects her to do the impossible, her boss is incredibly abusive.
She has a boyfriend, who actually has a girlfriend.
She has a fake self that she is able to conjure at any given time to give the illusion she is happy.
Until she can't...

I loved "Ripe" so much: it's sad, it's depressing, but it's real.
I've spent the last 5 minutes typing and deleting what I was going to say, because words can't really describe what i felt reading this - this is definitely going to be one of the top books of the year.

Oh, and the reader will learn a heck of a lot about black holes.

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Ripe has put Sarah Rose Etter in my to-watch list of authors whose sharp prose never lets you release that breath you've been holding. I wanted to hug Cassie and shake her at the same time.

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It's a highly entertaining book that fits the current trends in the literary market and I loved every second of it.

Leaning into the capitalist hell hole and mid-life crisis paired with the black hole metaphor has really pulled me into the book. Moreover, the writing style is also quite entertaining as we gradually get to experience Cassies past through her core memories and the way she perceives them.

All in all a quite an entertaining read that I will hold very dear to my heart.

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Cassie works for a startup tech company in Silicon Valley, dealing with toxic positivity and the relentless drive for productivity whilst also having to contend with a pregnancy scare, a boyfriend who isn't allowed to love her, spiralling rent prices, and the looming threat of a novel virus from overseas. Hovering over her the entire time is her black hole, threatening to drag her into its crushing depths.

This is a difficult book to read and also difficult to review. It starts off very slowly, tracing Cassie's days as she treks to and from the office, parties, and dates with her not-quite-boyfriend. The sense of pressure on her slowly building is quite effective, but the 'maybe pregnancy' was strung out for so long that there were times I wanted to scream at her to just get a pregnancy test. The last quarter or so of the book, though, is raw and brutal and deeply, deeply sad. Etter's writing style is darkly beautiful and very compelling, and I loved the use of the pomegranate metaphor throughout.

A distressing portrait of how the tech industry lures in bright, talented young people, chews them up and spits them back out again, I feel Ripe will appeal to fans of authors such as Ottessa Moshfegh, Ling Ling Huang, and Eliza Clark.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the free copy in return for an honest review.

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Ripe by Sarah Rose Etter is a delightful and witty contemporary thriller that cleverly satirizes the world of startup culture. Set in the fast-paced tech industry, the story follows a quirky protagonist as they navigate the absurdities and cutthroat nature of the startup world. Etter's writing is sharp and humorous, blending elements of suspense and dark comedy seamlessly. The novel offers a scathing critique of the tech industry's obsession with success and innovation, while also delivering an engaging and entertaining plot. Ripe is a refreshing and entertaining read that expertly combines humor and thrills to shed light on the quirks and pitfalls of startup culture.

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Quite unique. A powerfully charged job that pokes fun at Silicon Valley techbro culture, Cassie's character has walked into a corporate nightmare and doesn't really know how to get out. There's a lot of smart humour of Ivy League grads complaining about snacks, and the view of the unhoused folk allows an easy sense of hypocrisy. Etter's narration is biting, magical realism mixed in with dogmatism and pragmatising to tackle a toxic workplace and depression that esclates into a way that you don't think it's going to and then you're surprised when it slowly creeps up on you out of nowhere.

It reminded me a lot of Patricia Lockwood's No One is Talking About This but that might be just because I was reading the books at the same time. Etter is skilled at crafting Cassie's eccentricity and the magical realism blends science fiction and grounded fantasy together in a believable way; there's few comparisons to this book that can easily be made - it opts for a nice, little, empty headspace.

I have a problem with NetGalley books and library books especially lately; I'm reading so much good fiction that I want to buy the book which defeats the whole purpose of the Galley/library books. Etter's prose is skillful, manipulative and entrancing - a personal, innermost reflection mixed with real time plot that works wonders.

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Ripe has already become what I know to be one of my favourite books - I wish I could go back a few days and read it for the first time all over again.

We follow Cassie as she navigates her demanding job in Silicon Valley, the toxic corporate workplace, a doomed relationship and rocky friendships. From the start we are also aware of ‘the black hole’, which in itself is a main character. The all encompassing void that she has had since childhood.

It has satirical undertones about gender, toxic positivity and workplace dynamics - without being so comical that they make you believe that Cassie’s life couldn’t be someone’s real one somewhere in San Francisco.

The novel is structured through a first person narrative via Cassie in real time, flashbacks to a difficult childhood and dysfunctional family dynamics and dictionary definitions. The later I was worried would come off as gimmicky, but reading the book it did not take you out of the narrative and was well woven into the story.

I also enjoy when a story features symbolism, as it does here with black holes and pomegranates - pushing the reader to think outside of the narrative.

Usually when I have a book on my kindle, I would find no use in a physical copy - but I cannot wait to purchase one of this book and will probably reread before the years end.

Thank you to Sarah Rose Etter, Verve and Net Galley for the ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

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Well this was a delight! Not because it was sugar coated or frilly but because it was really ominous and quite a frank portrayal of life in the modern day.

Following Cassie at her recently acquired job in Silicon Valley, we see her struggle with the toxic working culture as well witnessing the obscene wealth that lives alongside abject poverty. While workplace parties are lavish affairs, many of the cities homeless are bathing in the river just nearby. Drugs feature quite heavily from the start as people try to self soothe and within the first few pages Cassie witnesses another horror of the city when there is a man on fire.

I have to be completely honest and admit that I wasn't hooked right away (I was worried I would hate Cassie) and found the definitions of words a bit jarring. After a few chapters I was definitely hooked though, this was probably helped by the introduction of the black hole which has followed Cassie round since birth, it was a great way to personify her feelings and create a sense of tension throughout the book. I don't want to spoil anything but I really appreciate the way the characters were introduced and seeing the different relationships at play.

If you like the TV shows Succession and Severance I would definitely say this book has similar vibes (I know it's a bit weird to compare with TV but this is what came to mind). But if you want a bookish comparison then I'd say it's got a feeling of 1984 about it (although sadly less dystopian and more realistic) with a hint of The Circle too. Well worth a read!

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The irony of writing this review on a Monday morning procrastinating against getting ready to go into the office to work is not lost on me. This book is at its core Monday morning anxiety personified.

Cassie is a year into her “dream job” at a cutthroat Silicon Valley startup, but is trapped in a corporate nightmare. Long hours, toxic bosses, unethical demands, surveillance like performance monitoring. Spending her days surrounded by the “believers” she struggles to reconcile the world in which multibillion dollar companies with Ivy League employees can work with views of such abhorrent sights of poverty literally outside of their office windows.

This had a dystopian quality to it but alas I do not feel it is at all fantasy to some. The ever increasing competitiveness of business with its constant stream of new young hungry graduates willing to accept less for the promise of more. I am lucky in that my job is far from the nightmare Cassie found herself in but I did recognise the pressure to perform, the squeeze on resources directly being syphoned onto the workloads of existing employees.

Rose Etter brilliantly uses metaphors within her writing. There is a pomegranate (hence the cover art) but my favourite was that of a black hole to explore Cassie’s depression. We get both descriptive prose and also scientific facts which was so visually powerful and effective in building up the tension and pressure she felt as a character.

Darkly funny, painful sharp in its observations this book was like picking a scab, a little bit painful, runs the risk of leaving a scar but so very very satisfying.

I started to read this one alongside other books because I found myself bookless with only my kindle app on my phone and then failed to return to any other reads until I had greedily gobbled it alI up! If you are a fan of the sad girl troupe this is one you need on your radar come August when it is released.

Thank you @verve_books @netgalley for this early opportunity to read such a captivating book. Loved it!!

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That certainly was not the American dream
San Francisco portrayed as a living hell with nobody seemingly happy.
Cassie has moved to SF to work in the tech sector, partly to escape from her mother who has a massive negative impact on her life.
But the dream is sour from the very start as she lives in a tiny , miserable but barely affordable apartment. Men at work steal all the praise and the women undermine her too.
SF seems to falling apart at the seams also with squalor a constant presence.
With so much negative , it could be imagined that it would be difficult to like this book but I did as it so well written and really conveys the feelings of hopelessness that Cassie carries . Like the black hole that accompanies her throughout her life.
Despite knowing that there is just more misery to come and there will not be a happy ending , somehow i felt i had to read on.
Easy to empathise with the miserable life Cassie has and the analogy with black holes is interesting and heavily developed in the book.
Weirdly the book made me remember the music video to Roger Sanchez-Another Chance, as it’s inflatable heart being carried around was the exact opposite of the imagery in this book.
Thanks NetGalley for the ARC of this book.

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"Ripe" by Sarah Rose Etter is a captivating exploration of the dark underbelly of Silicon Valley and the toll it takes on the human psyche. The story unfolds through the eyes of Cassie, a young woman trapped in a corporate nightmare, battling long hours, toxic bosses, and unethical projects. Etter skillfully portrays the stark contrast between obscene wealth and abject poverty, showcasing the disillusionment and despair that permeate this tech-driven world.

The narrative is predominantly told in the present tense, creating a sense of immediacy and uncertainty. We witness Cassie's struggles, her isolation, and her constant battle with a metaphorical black hole that feeds on her anxiety and depression. Through vivid descriptions and introspective moments, Etter effectively conveys the suffocating atmosphere of the protagonist's life.

One of the notable aspects of the book is the absence of a clear resolution, mirroring Cassie's own uncertainty about her future. The characters surrounding her, including her colleagues and so-called friends, remain superficial and unknowing. This lack of connection reflects the pervasive loneliness and pretense of modern life, where vulnerability is suppressed, and authentic relationships are elusive.

Etter's use of dictionary definitions to evoke memories and highlight Cassie's longing for a simpler life outside the Silicon Valley bubble adds depth to the narrative. The book serves as a thought-provoking commentary on capitalism, work culture, and the sacrifices demanded by the pursuit of success.

"Ripe" is a haunting and unsettling portrayal of contemporary realities, painting a bleak picture of a society where personal fulfillment is sacrificed at the altar of professional ambition. It is a compelling read that will leave you questioning the price we pay for the glittering promises of modern life.

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This was a really disorienting, powerful read that I sound simultaneously compelling and exhausting. I thought her description of the isolation she’s feels and the permanent weight of melancholy that she carries around to be so spot on and beautifully captured. I also thought the stark contrast between the houseless people living outside of a billion dollar city to be infuriating but important nonetheless. Usually I don’t like to see covid mentioned in books but I thought the impending doom represented by covid to be very effective to the malaise that Cassie is experiencing. I really enjoyed this!

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How far would you go for success? 
A huge thanks to everyone involved in approving me this title. Cassie did what her parents told her to. She broke up with a boyfriend, graduated school, and left home directly after as her parents told her there was no place for her there anymore. "The train is leaving" and she was on it. To everyone's amazement Cassie got a job at a cutthroat Silicon Valley startup. Long hours, drugs, an affair with a chef, all stress her out, but she is supposed to be thankful. What a ride. It took me a while to read this as it stressed me out. Ripe includes many topics, including Corona, drug abuse, abortion, etc. If you know and like Sarah Rose Etter's Book "Book of X" you're gonna love this as well. A little more adult and as addictive.

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It is important to note that most of the themes explored in this book deal with sensitive subject matters. My review, therefore, touches on these topics as well. Many people might find the book's subject matters & those detailed in my review overwhelming. I would suggest you steer clear of both if this is the case. Please note that from this point forward I will be writing about matters which contain reflections on suicide, parental abuse, financial insecurity, homelessness, substance abuse, pregnancy, abortions, debates in relation to being pro-choice, mental illness, & others.

Human society exists on the corner of a crossroads. Simultaneously we walk the streets of riches & decomposition; never certain of our position in the hierarchical structure of wealth & security, we mince our meagre existence to compound fear into submission. Tomorrow is a day far away from the one we are experiencing & yet it remains the messenger of the future. Our savings & settled structures lay in anticipated wait. The city streets of every great nation denounce the cruelty of its own people as they sidestep their coin-tossed fate. The imaginary labour that prevents poverty; the lucky clover & soul-bearing sale, our bid to ensure we are not the dried crust of a life that weasels alongside the empire towers of the capital city. 

Our dedication to forgiving the bladed knife of effort is lost on us. Perhaps we opt to believe that what we have is based on merit, like the religious titans of old who pillaged our minds with a need for forgiveness & sin. This leaves little room to incorporate a diversity of nuance. No single person has left untouched the sin of the species. What constitutes the merit of a good life? Who is the innocent that wealth seeks to protect? 

In Etter’s novel, the possibility of a teetering utopia hinges on the individual’s belief that their choices are a result of a match made in heaven. The premise of this story dedicates itself to readers with language that is soft & metaphorical in a tangibly simple approach.  The main character, Cassie, is nearing the completion of her first year working at a tech start-up whose main goal is the collection & sale of personal data. Cassie is consumed by despair. Having grown up in a small American town, several States away, she finds herself calling her father for reminders that her current position in life is better than the alternative.  

The premise of this story meanders the engaged mind of the reader as they seek to pinpoint an antagonist; someone who might be responsible for the collapse of validation. Cassie is an interesting character as she is the optimal representation of a culture of people who have to work to survive. This statement is not meant to exclude anyone nor shame the lives that are led down different pathways. Simply, Cassie is tethered to her career, ever so much as she hates the person she has become while working in it. 

The necessity for a salary might lead a person to feel that their personal value is representative in the system of numeric sequences. In a world where our possessions act as a representation of our successful accomplishments, whilst our inner turmoil is allowed to be sheltered & bathed in loathing; one loses sight of the self. Cassie toys with her living condition & her grocery bill; she needs a home but not one that costs her over three (3) grand to maintain. She needs food but not enough to impoverish herself in the stores of the ignorantly wealthy. The reader grows frustrated with Cassie as the narrative moves forward. Why does she make such stupid choices?

Why does Cassie work at a job that requires the sacrifice of all her personal freedom? Why does Cassie live in an apartment that surpasses her means? Why doesn’t Cassie advocate for herself? Why does Cassie allow her thoughts to drown her in sorrow? 

No one question necessarily has a simple answer. The terror of this narrative is that any one reader might find themselves reflected in Cassie. Are we to bemoan one another for a collection of books or film posters? Is it wrong to want to enjoy a streaming service or a selection of sweaters? Where do we draw the line between life enjoyment & living in excess? For Cassie there is not necessarily a clear definer of security nor does she possess the ability to gauge her own needs. This narrative presents the main character as though she were living in a dystopian world gone utterly awry, yet, this world is our own. 

Cassie’s corporate job resembles the corporate world of snakes & ladders. I also work in a field brimming with sea urchins & sour weeds. Many people benefit from the pull of performance; what others think of our accomplishments matters more than the success itself. While others find the cold lonely chair of architecture without community rather malevolent.  No one has a black hole circling their skulls but they do wear the darkened circles of skin under their eyes & the dreary look of extroversion. I cannot blame them—I am one of them. My life is just as much a part of the corporate culture as Cassie’s. We go into an office space & we are expected to perform. 
No one shares meals until a person’s intent is clear. Yet the people littering the street with their inability to be like the corporate crawlers act as a reminder that the freedom of privacy remains up for grabs. If one does not go to the lunch, does not show up to the greeting; does not have their camera on, is not dressed presentably; or does not look eager to be there; they are reminded that others around them want it more. One need only step aside to make way for the forward movement of the eager as they greedily relinquish their independence for the machine. 

Yet, I do not believe it is as dreadful as all of that. I rather enjoy my job. I appreciate all the freedom that my revenue accords me. However, I remember when I had none. The story explores the very real probability of falling between the cracks. This reality has recently gained traction as our society experiences the cycle of community. Our ability to share knowledge has been tinged with the malaise that awakens when information is misrepresented—situations fraught with lies. Our social networks heave the weight of misinformation in a bid to save the lost minds of the unlucky. 

Mock documentaries, homemade presentations, & intimate conversations showcase the disparity of wealth that exists across North America. Cassie’s Silicon Valley is no different than the one presented in YouTube shorts & reel formats to eager viewers who wish to know more about their own neighbours. Though her days see people set themselves on fire & sever their bodies against moving trains, the differences between fact & fiction grow fewer as the novel progresses.

Cassie falls pregnant with the man she has been seeing, casually, for some time. A great debate rages inside her, bringing long-since suppressed experiences with Catholicism to the surface.  She does not tell her partner that she has become pregnant nor does she share the news with anyone—which is her right. The city streets reek with human excrement & her office space closes in as she is repeatedly told that her performance is falling short. There is no space for a new life in the decaying forestry of fire. 

The experience changes Cassie. Previously a bonified Easter bunny, she shadows the black hole that salivates at her demise. It is difficult to read about Cassie’s final pensive moments before she commits suicide. The termination of her position in a company in which she poured her entire life; the home that is too expensive in which to reside; the friends who are enemies with scales of performative intrigue; the family that was cold as a marbled stone; Cassie sees no way forward. 

One is left flummoxed but accepting of the end. Cassie’s despair is nothing new. According to her, she has been experiencing a loathsome dread for the majority of her life. When it was time to intervene, the streets were silent with the hum of a stoned heap; no one comes running when we have no jogging mates. Though this view is morbid & rather sad, the reader notes the absence of real connection within Cassie’s world. Her romantic relationship cannot move forward, the man she loves is prevented from loving her—one does not actually know if he wants to fall in love, or simply enjoy the confines of the spaces within Cassie. The family & friends, the society at writ large, no one cares whether Cassie loves her job or whether she becomes like the sleeping man under her window—insane to the high achievers.

The putrid resemblance of our societies is shocking. The author colours the world of Cassie’s surroundings with clear lines; no one escapes their role in the fallen kingdom. One is explicitly seen throughout the pages. Perhaps, the disentangled reader might wish to evade capture. After all, the majority of the characters in this story are crude—downright horrible—people. Who wants to be faced with the masked killer clown doused in makeup so uncomplimentary? Unfortunately, the extremes presented in the character makeup are not meant to be a friendly reminder. One can regard Cassie as an out-of-touch adult who has now been faced with the realism evoked in the hearts of the world. Regardless, some of her traits flare on the skin of readers.

Ultimately, what Etter has done is present the viewer with a home movie; has masticated the familiar features of childhood into alien skin. We watch & listen as the plot thickens; will Cassie kill herself? Death to the self is not so different from death at the hands of a stranger though, we might be inclined to trust the hand we know. The black hole that gobbles the protagonist will litter stones & sticks into the city street, reminders along the curbs for those without homes. What is the reader meant to deduce from this narrative? Can one be inclined to be honest & truthful? Can one pursue truth in the theatrical extremes?

This story explores what it means to be human in a time wherein being human is existing in two worlds. The icons of our profiles mirror only the lies we tell ourselves. The sidewalks know the thud of our step & the kneeling pressure of our psyche on our heels & bones. Who we are is perhaps not so different than the neighbour whom we watch rise up to the hillside to kill his own son or, so the great visionary joked. The magic of the mirror is that one’s mind might intentionally lie. Rainbows, butterflies, bumble bees, & honey are sweet nectar to the human species. Inside of us lies the hidden Hyde that saunters the night in broad day, waiting to play victim & villain to the self; the morosely intelligent, studied, & learned mind of humankind.

Thank you to NetGalley, VERVE Books, & Sarah Rose Etter for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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cassie has lived her entire life alongside a miniature black hole, a constant threat and companion that feeds on her depression and anxiety. we follow her as she moves for a new job to a dystopian-like city where men set themselves on fire, people defecate on the streets, and a virus gradually creeps across the globe. 'ripe' is a surrealist, candid look into mental illness, toxic workplaces and families, corporate culture, and the glaring wealth disparity due to late-stage capitalism

the world that etter has created here is a mirror of our own. an unsettling reminder that as we move towards late-stage capitalism, we move towards dystopia. written with brutal candour, etter outlines how our society is in a state of cataclysmic decline. through the use of a sad millennial protagonist that many of us will identify with, the reality of our future becomes horrifyingly inescapable for the reader

the novel unfolds slowly, the gutting intensity of etter’s writing produces a horror that lingers long after the story has ended. the black hole was the only speculative aspect of this novel. i thought it was handled really well, though i can see the lack of subtlety in the imagery being off-putting for some readers. for me, the heavy-handedness of the black hole symbolism complements the drab, monotonous tone of the story perfectly (and even opens the novel up for a more satirical interpretation). this book was dreary, exhausting, and sent me into an existential spiral more than once. for that reason, i would only recommend this if you’re in a healthy headspace

all in all, ‘ripe’ is a memorable 2023 release that urges us to acknowledge the severity of the capitalist hellscape we’re currently living within, calling on us to question the role we're playing in our society's current descent into a real-life dystopia — i'd definitely recommend!!

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This is a gorgeous, uncomfortable, haunting book. The language is immediate and visceral, working to maintain a tension throughout the story that never seems to let up. This is felt all the more as the challenges that Cassie faces will be similar to the ones this novel's readers are facing - how to live in an increasingly corrupt world. Rather than being depressing this book acts as a balm almost, a confirmation and vindication of what you already knew; yes, the world is as bad as you say it is, and no, you are not crazy.

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Cassie is in her 30’s, and working for a tech start-up in San Francisco. She lives her life being followed by a black hole, that shrinks and grows but never disappears. She attempts to navigate a job she hates with people she hates in a city she hates, all the while with a swirling black hole, constantly hovering.

I don’t want to say too much more, because this is definitely a book that demands to be read. But it’s vivid and angry and bitter. Sarah Rose Etter does an incredible job building this inescapable tension throughout the book, and you almost feel like you’re hurtling towards something.

It’s incredibly bleak - she didn’t shy away from depicting the gulf of inequality in San Francisco, a city of immense wealth and of immense poverty. I went there about 5 years ago and I’ve never felt so uncomfortable, and so guilty - I couldn’t imagine living there and Etter portrays it so unflinchingly well.

It’s an absolutely phenomenal piece of writing, and it’s reminiscent of another one of my favourite reads this year, Our Wives Under the Sea. But I would approach it with caution. It’s not something I would recommend if you’re already in a bad head space, or if you’re struggling. Like I said, it’s incredibly bleak at parts. But it’s also beautifully written and has some great facts about black holes too!

Thank you so much to @verve_books and #netgalley for this ARC - Ripe is out on the 15th of August!

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Thank you so much to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC to review

Wow.....I'm stuck with a 4.25 - 4.5

I devoured this within a few hours. The writing....THE WRITING ughhh for me I loved it there were so many quotes I've taken note of. This story is depressing. It doesn't hold back from expressing the feeling of loneliness, feeling like you have to have almost another version of yourself to deal with things like your job or interacting with people.

One part when Cassie is with the Chef will stay with me forever I loved the line and the others following it about knowing sadness her whole life. Those hit me and wow.

The ending felt....I don't even know how to describe it but I just wanted something else. I liked how the black hole could be taken as magic realism within the story itself or even a metaphor for Cassie and her mental health, depression, loneliness, anxiety etc.

I even spilled tears reading some of this it was just the damn ending knocking the rating down. Will definitely be looking out for more work by Sarah Rose Etter.

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A heavily melancholic novel where Cassie is trying to survive a demeaning tech start up job in Silicon Valley.

Delving into the impact of toxic work culture and the simultaneous cut throat and soul crushing corporate world, a world where you work can 90 hour weeks and still get no where.

In the background of this there is a growing pandemic, wild fires and a black hole of depression that follows Cassie around.

Bleak but hard hitting with amazing imagery worked through.

I also learned a lot about actual black holes!

Thank you to NetGalley and Verve
4/5 ⭐️

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Ripe
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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Ripe is the story of Cassie, a depressed young woman trying to find her way in life with a stressful corporate job. Cassie has been followed by a black hole her entire life. Watching, waiting.

I related to Cassie on so many levels. I have suffered with depression for as long as I can remember, and there were so many sections of this book that seemed they were written about me. Cassie’s relationship with her mother is identical to the relationship I have with mine, so this book really hit me hard with the emotions!!

The writing was stunning. I tabbed, highlighted and annotated the shit out of this book because the entire thing was just beautiful. Whilst being beautiful, it was also completely soul-sucking and harrowing.

This was not an easy read by any means, with lots of talk of depression, abortion and suicide. But I found myself completely gripped from start to finish despite finding some moments very hard to read. The author has managed to make this a truly compelling read even with the harrowing content.

This book was haunting in the best and worst ways, and I absolutely loved every moment of it.

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I am a strong believer that this book should be a contender for the best book of 2023.

What this book achieves is something that should not be sold short. Before even talking about the plot the way Etter is able to bring in real world elements such as Covid and the California wildfires and weave them into the novel is so seamless that anyone who didn’t know about them being real world events could 100% believe they were just as crafted for the story as the characters were.

The story itself is strong due to its criticisms of capitalism and hustle culture. The setting of silver valley is perfect as it represents hustle culture perfectly. I think the character of noor in the story shows how toxic capitalism is as the desire for money and to be a part of a high status company eventually took him from his family who were supposedly the most important thing to him but were so easily dropped for a chance to work for a Silicon Valley company. I also loved how the people working in Silicon Valley were called believers. Personally, I think this is due to the fact that they are sold the idea that we live in a meritocracy and as a result that if they work hard they will be happy but from the main character Cassie as a reader we can see just how false this is.


Talking about Cassie the main character is one who has an interesting perspective to read about throughout the whole time she is shown to be an outsider and it is very easy to see why due to everyone being so different. The others attempt to assimilate and conform to how the rest of Silicon Valley are but due to the inability to fully conform there is a clear struggle to survive in this world. Her inability to fully conform is highlighted by what she called her fake self the other workers don’t have this as the fake self is there actual personality like Sasha but with Cassie she has to switch to be able to do the unspeakable acts that are asked of her because in reality it is not her.

One thing I also enjoyed about this book is everything about blackholes. As someone who loves physics every mention of Hawkings and recent and past theory is something that really had my heart set on loving this book from the beginning. The use of the black hole as a metaphor is well done as through Cassie’s black hole is used to show how she is being consumed by this new and exhausting world that does not care for her and her individualism.

Thank you NetGalley and verve books for allowing me to be an early reader to this fantastic novel

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Ripe is a timely and deeply compelling novel that follows one woman struggling to reconcile the marked difference in the quality of life between those who are rich beyond their wildest dreams, who never have to worry about money, and those in abject poverty who are living paycheck to paycheck, as well as the various other joys of living in a capitalist society such as intense burnout. 33-year-old Cassie left her humdrum town in which there were no prospects in order to seek opportunity and uproot from a dysfunctional family unit to begin working at a new tech start-up known as Voyager in Silicon Valley. It isn't long before a long list of issues culminates in her becoming disillusioned and exhausted: she is expected to work long hours at a relentless pace with an almost cult-like dedication to the business, commute by train each day from her pricy apartment in San Francisco and cope with her bullying boss Sasha's impossible demands.

Forced to wear the company uniform, Cassie self-medicates with cocaine and cold brew - stimulants to keep her going. This is hardly the route to more stability but desperation drives people to crazy things. Naturally, this could not continue ad infinitum and soon things become even worse - Cassie discovers she's pregnant after a uncharacteristic fling that occurred as she had desperately been craving the salvation of a lover's caress; not knowing how to deal with the unwelcome news she naively pushes it to the back of her mind. She also begins having some more serious mental health issues that appear to make her lose her grip on reality and her struggles to pay basic living expenses whilst colleagues splash out on frivolities deepen bringing with them a sense of anxiety, depression, rage, despair and deep-seated anger that manifest themselves more than ever before.

This is an incisive and compulsively readable yet all too familiar and distressingly sad commentary on today's employment conditions and the unimaginable chasm that exists between the top 1% of earners and those struggling for necessities. Viewed through the eyes of the unravelling Cassie, Etter has filled each page with palpable tension and emotion of just about every persuasion making it a hard-hitting and claustrophobic read. It's a thoughtful, topical tale that is addictive in that you can't seem to turn away from the dire circumstances Cassie finds herself in, and just when you think it can't get any worse it does. Bleak, intense and often surreal. A sign of the times. Highly recommended.

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I really enjoyed this. It used a really imaginative premise to describe themes around mental health and burnout. It's not a genre I normally read, and I am very unfamilar with both american, and corporate work culture, but i found the way both were depicted very interesting, its so dystopian and feeds into the amount of anxiety in this book.
I am glad I picked this up, even though i found i needed to really pace myself reading it in order to appreciate all the details.

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Cassie is overworked by her Silicon Valley employer and forced to make difficult choices in her job, while at the same time battling struggles in her personal life.

A thought-provoking novel on the realities of life in the modern world.

I found this to be such a brilliant read. It is incredibly insightful, really exposing the difficulties that young people face as they try to make their way in life. I found myself invested in Cassie's journey and fascinated by the choices she made. Sarah Rose Etter's writing style is intelligent and sharp, making the book extremely absorbing.

Writing about difficult topics such as anxiety and depression is a hard thing to get right but everything was presented in a careful manner and the particularly shocking moments were very well-written.

I think that a lot of people will be able to relate to this book and I highly recommend it.

Thank you NetGalley and Verve for sending this book for review consideration. All opinions are my own.

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This was a weird and very dark book. Definitely have to be in a good mental health space to read this one. It's very well written and I flew through this.

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