Rebecca Morris
September 1999

We're all aware that the advertising scene is supposed to be a tad morally corrupt, and Syrup only serves to reinforce this notion. Welcome to the world of advertising as depicted by debut author Maxx Barry. Syrup is an epic so laded with double-crossing man-eating corporates that it becomes more than just a satirical look at the insidious ploys behind marketing, but takes on the surrealism of some zany cartoon-strip.

Insanely fast-paced and unpredictable, Syrup follows the adventures of Scat, the book's hilarious protagonist, in his efforts to reach fame and fortune in Ad Land. At every junction he is dealt castrating blows (to put it mildly) by marketing rivals who go by thickly satirical names reminiscent of an animated series on Cartoon Connection. 'Sneaky Pete', the archetypal corporate shark and one-time friend poaches Scat's three-million dollar product idea and then sets out to trash his name. Determined to fight his way to marketing success, however, Scat joins forces with fellow rival 'Six', a character so cardboard and sub-zero that even the most forgiving of readers would find her irritating. Nevertheless, despite her double-crossing antics, Scat spends the entire novel pandering after her and one cannot help but wonder if Barry perhaps harbours some subliminal fantasy about being dragged about on a leash by a corporate super-bitch.

If you can recover from wanting to strangle Scat's love interest, this novel produces some highly entertaining and occasionally laugh-out-loud reading. Barry presents the world of marketing using bold, brash and inaccurate strokes which are rarely on the mark and often simplistic to the point of naiveté, but nevertheless provide the fodder for a colourful and amusing read.