Titles: Finna and Defekt
Series: The LitenVerse: Books One and Two
Author: Nino Cipri
Length: 103 Pages/170 Pages
Rating: 4 Stars/5 Stars
At a Glance: Nino Cipri’s imagination is so impressive, and their knack for inspiring my own vision of a place that was fraught with danger, but shouldn’t have been, was nothing less than fantastic. They note at the end of Defekt that they never intended to write a sequel to Finna, but I’m grateful they did for the simple fact they got to expand on the -verse, and they made it even more disturbingly fun, fuller, and richer.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurbs: Finna: When an elderly customer at a Swedish big box furniture store — but not that one — slips through a portal to another dimension, it’s up to two minimum-wage employees to track her across the multiverse and protect their company’s bottom line. Multi-dimensional swashbuckling would be hard enough, but those two unfortunate souls broke up a week ago.
To find the missing granny, Ava and Jules will brave carnivorous furniture, swarms of identical furniture spokespeople, and the deep resentment simmering between them. Can friendship blossom from the ashes of their relationship? In infinite dimensions, all things are possible.
Defekt: Derek is LitenVärld’s most loyal employee. He lives and breathes the job, from the moment he wakes up in a converted shipping container at the edge of the parking lot to the second he clocks out of work 18 hours later. But after taking his first ever sick day, his manager calls that loyalty into question. An excellent employee like Derek, an employee made to work at LitenVärld, shouldn’t need time off.
To test his commitment to the job, Derek is assigned to a special inventory shift, hunting through the store to find defective products. Toy chests with pincers and eye stalks, ambulatory sleeper sofas, killer mutant toilets, that kind of thing. Helping him is the inventory team — four strangers who look and sound almost exactly like him. Are five Dereks better than one?
Review: “My boss, Tricia, always said that we were family. I should have realized she meant that I would have to put up with constant bullshit.” ~ Ava, Finna
Nino Cipri’s LitenVerse is part sci-fi, part horror, a wickedly entertaining indictment of capitalism and consumerism, and I loved it. Sharp, sometimes poignant, and a grim commentary on the commodification of the human cogs in the corporate machine, this duology gives readers a bleak and darkly amusing peek behind the curtains of an IKEA-like chain store where wormholes randomly open up and swallow loyal (compulsive? addicted?) shoppers; employees are conscripted to enter the multiverse to rescue them, and if they can’t find the person they’re looking for, well . . . the FINNA will attempt to locate an acceptable alternative.
Good luck making it back alive. Don’t count on overtime or hazard pay if you do. Oh, and the curtains you get to peek behind might try to eat you.
Cipri’s imagination is so impressive, and their knack for inspiring my own vision of a place that was fraught with danger, but shouldn’t have been, was nothing less than fantastic. I even had fun translating the names of the furniture because I was full of empathy for objects that were supposed to be inanimate, which was another great surprise. This author somehow made me have feelings for a toilet . . . Anyway, I was in complete alliance with Ava, Jules, and Derek—as well as the multiple versions of Derek who give the term “model employee” new meaning. And there are plenty of antagonists to root against in this -verse, not only in the form of middle and upper management but in a corporate construct named Dirk, who was designed and manufactured to enforce company policy via any means necessary. The company did not get a good return on their investment in Dirk.
Derek is considered a perfectly adequate employee. He’s always ready, if not genuinely eager, to please the customer, which is why he scored a 4.75 on the customer satisfaction scale. He never expects more than the meager scraps the company deigns to give him, and let me assure you, they are paltry to the nth degree. He also believes job stress builds character because that’s probably how his employee handbook frames it. Derek is significant in both books, as his first sick day ever not only leads management to question his loyalty and commitment to his job but also impacts Ava on her day off, when she’s called in to cover for him, which is how and where Finna overlaps with Defekt before that book takes off on its own trajectory.
Ava and her ex, Jules—they also happen to be Ava’s coworker—have only just broken up and weren’t meant to work together that day. They are, in fact, the last person Ava wanted to see, but management doesn’t much care about anything resembling an employee’s personal life or whose body is filling the gap as long as someone is. Ava and Jules are both angry and hurt and have a difficult time leaving those feelings outside the store, which offers the opportunity for readers to see them at their most vulnerable and, as the story progresses, at their best. Jules volunteers to venture into a maskhål to try to rescue a disappeared grandma, and Ava reluctantly joins them because she does still care about Jules. That journey into a funky, deadly alternate reality became a pivotal turning point, not only for the grandma but for Jules as well.
Employees are interchangeable. They are also expendable. No one is an individual but rather a smaller part of the greater whole meant to serve at the pleasure of the corporation. And no one quits LitenVärld, they defect; that word is exemplified to perfection in its dual meanings in book two, which Derek discovers intimately. Nino Cipri notes at the end of Defekt that they never intended to write a sequel to Finna, but I’m grateful they did for the simple fact they got to expand on the -verse, and they made it even more disturbingly fun, fuller, and richer.
LitenVärld may be a fictional Scandinavian home goods store with good meatballs and prefab rooms called Midlife Crisis Mom and Parental Basement Dweller, but anyone who has ever worked customer service in any capacity before will commiserate with the overworked and underpaid employees and the soul-deep relief of a good “I Quit”.
You can buy Finna and Defekt here:
[zilla_button url=”https://us.macmillan.com/series/litenverse” style=”black” size=”large” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Tor/Macmillan [/zilla_button][zilla_button url=”https://books2read.com/Finna” style=”black” size=”large” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Finna [/zilla_button][zilla_button url=”https://books2read.com/Defekt” style=”black” size=”large” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Defekt [/zilla_button]