Defekt, by Nino Cipri

Nino Cipri’s Finna introduced us to the bigger-on-the-inside shopping emporium LitenVärld, a store so large that it warps reality into occasionally opening wormholes to other, even stranger versions of the superstore. The adventures continue in Defekt. I’ve been waiting for a sequel ever since I finished Finna; I love Cipri’s imaginative, inclusive, satirical brain. This follow-up is absolutely perfect.

Derek has one ambition. He wants to be the best—friendliest, most productive, most helpful—employee at LitenVärld. Given LitenVärld’s expectations of its employees, this would be a big challenge even for someone who feels the need to practice his facial expressions and intonation in the mirror every morning before he heads to work from the shipping container in the parking lot where he lives. Still, even though some of his co-workers find him a little too sincere for comfort, Derek seems to be succeeding. At least, until Derek feels bad enough to take his first-ever sick day.

The weird things start happening when a refreshed Derek returns to work. A portal has opened up and swallowed a customer and a coworker, on a shift Derek was supposed to be working. Guilt and a heaping dollop of corporate guilt press Derek into being seconded to a special unit that tracks down and exterminates defective products with extreme prejudice. Because this is LitenVärld, defective products are a lot stranger than a table with a dinged corner or a piece of fabric with a flawed print. The defekta of LitenVärld appear to be alive.

Like Finna, the sheer madcap oddness of Defekt provides a lot of entertainment while the subtext introduces questions of what it means to not fit in with everyone else, finding one’s own identity, and how a group of seemingly powerless entities (for lack of a better word) can stand up to a corporate behemoth. I loved every word of this sweet, goofy, original ride of a novella.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

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