Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Humbug: The Unwinding of Ebenezer Scrooge (Claus #4) by Tony Bertauski | ARC | A Book Review

Humbug: The Unwinding of Ebenezer Scrooge by Tony Bertauski Book Review

We have put up Christmas decorations at home. In the Philippines, as early as September, people start hanging Christmas decorations and playing Christmas songs. We take down the decors right after the celebration of the Three Kings (January 6). Others wait for the Chinese New Year (end of January to the first week of February) to remove the decors. Yes, the Christmas season is the longest celebration we have. People tend to be kinder, more understanding and patient during this period. The best thing I love about Christmas is to go shopping for presents for the people I love. My gifts are always personalized. I wrapped them creatively. Last year, I used manila envelopes with red ribbons. Other times, I used Japanese paper. Layering them in different colors. As much as possible, I try not to use the usual holiday store-bought wrappers.

This review is so timely. Humbug is a re-telling of the all-time favorite Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. In this book, Ebenezer Lennox Scrooge and Jacob Marley are co-founders of Avocado. An electronics and technology company. Yes, I know like Apple but it has business ventures into stem cell, droids, and other high-end technological advances. When Jacob Marley died, Scrooge took over the company. He changed a lot of things that the people did not like and he worked his people to the bone. Then, on Christmas Eve, Jacob's ghost appeared to him. And then the next Christmas Eve's after that, the ghosts of the present and the past continued to haunt. 

I think the way Scrooge was portrayed in this novel is very apt. A modern business man whose concern is to earn more money for his company. To hell with what his employees feel or think. He pays them enough so he should be getting what he paid for. He doesn't care what time of day it is, he calls his managers whenever he likes. There is no sacred hour, not even Christmas. I think, there are a lot of bosses who are like this. They only care about the metrics, the SLAs (service-level agreements), and the profits. It's all about the numbers and statistics. They don't even try to get to know their subordinates personally. 

And since his business is technology. He makes use of them each way he can. He lives alone and he has an entourage of droids to assist him in his mansion. Unlike most CEO's, he attends meetings and interviews proxied by a projection. A projection that is too far from his real self. He often projects himself as a ripped up and good-looking guy, like Captain America. No one in the world knows how he really looked like. Even his VP hasn't seen him for years. He never leaves his mansion.

I enjoyed this modern representation of Scrooge. Very very fitting and real. I also liked that his change was brought about by something else. Of course, he is a modern man so he looks for a logical explanation for the haunting.  Like most of us making sense of the unbelievable, he sought to find a tangible and possible source of those ghastly apparitions that made sense to him. He was in denial and he refused to turn over a new leaf until something big and beyond unstoppable happened. Not even his advanced technological innovations could even stop it. 

The best part of the book is that it explored the past of Scrooge and there lies the explanation of how he is. His present is a product of generations long past and converged into his being. He was as powerless as any of his ancestors. Thinking, this is how it has done. This the way I know. There is no other way. 

I give Humbug 5/5 rag dolls. I liked the ending. How he changed and made up for all the mistakes and abuse he has done to his employees. How he found the happiness that had long eluded him in spite of all the glossy and expensive trappings he can afford. Very impressive. I think Dickens would have approved of this version of his famous story. Absolutely entertaining! I love that the droids have a sense of humor. I found it a delight every time the droids and Scrooge converse, which happened a lot of times in this story. The droid's answers were so blunt and right on the mark that often made Scrooge appear like a fool, which I thought he fairly deserved.

Bitterness and loneliness is not a youth serum for the body.
- Tony Bertauski, Humbug: The Unwinding of Ebenezer Scrooge - 

Kindle Edition Release Date: November 15, 2016

Thank you again Tony Bertauski for the ARC.