Book Review: The Very Nice Box

Eve Gleichman & Laura Blackett

Rating: 3 out of 5.

published: 6th July 2021
spoilers? no


For fans of Elinor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Severance: an offbeat, wryly funny debut novel that follows an eccentric product engineer who works for a hip furniture company where sweeping corporate change lands her under the purview of a startlingly charismatic boss who seems determined to get close to her at all costs . . .

Ava Simon designs storage boxes for STÄDA, a slick Brooklyn-based furniture company. She’s hard-working, obsessive, and heartbroken from a tragedy that killed her girlfriend and upended her life. It’s been years since she’s let anyone in.

But when Ava’s new boss—the young and magnetic Mat Putnam—offers Ava a ride home one afternoon, an unlikely relationship blossoms. Ava remembers how rewarding it can be to open up—and, despite her instincts, she becomes enamored. But Mat isn’t who he claims to be, and the romance takes a sharp turn.

The Very Nice Box is a funny, suspenseful debut—with a shocking twist. It’s at once a send-up of male entitlement and a big-hearted account of grief, friendship, and trust.

Galley provided by publisher

CWs: abusive relationship, past deaths/injury in car accident

The Very Nice Box fits into that very specific genre of Ikea-pastiche stories, that say something about corporate culture and such (although quite what I have to admit to not knowing, never having been part of a corporation).

In this book, Ava is in the middle of designing the eponymous Very Nice Box when her boss steps down and is replaced by Mat. Initially reluctant to buy into his schtick, she eventually relents, and also starts up a relationship with him. But he isn’t all that he seems, and slowly Ava starts to realise something is up.

What worked for me in this book was the slow build to the realisation that this guy is dodgy. I mean, given the blurb and my general tendency to be suspicious of fictional men, I did know he was going to turn out bad, so it wasn’t a surprise as such. But the build up was enough to keep you guessing just how he would be.

And all of it leading to an end that was… wild to say the least. Probably this was the best part of the book. I won’t say a word about what happens because, trust me, you want to be surprised by it. The one thing I would say is that it went in a direction I was totally not expecting.

Aside from that though, I’d have to say nothing else really stood out for me. Yes, it was a good book, but I didn’t feel a whole lot about it. But I’m willing to chalk that up to my general dislike of adult contemporary. A three star read for that genre is basically worth at least four in any other.

So if this sounds your thing, I would say go on and pick it up. Even if it doesn’t sound it, I’d say that because you might be surprised.

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