Questions and Topics for Discussions
1. As a whole, do you think technology makes the lives of Mack, Katya, Sabrina, Dan and others in the novel easier or more complicated? Why?
2. The fictional technology in Startup is interested in measuring data—most noticeably moods in TakeOff and engagement with the pages of TechScene. In what ways do the characters in the novel both acquiesce and fight against this constant measurement?
3. Startup is told from multiple points of view. How does this technique influence where your sympathies lie? Which of the characters do you think is the main protagonist? Why?
4. Being a little bit older when she returns to a youthful work force gives Sabrina a different perspective than her coworkers. Have you ever worked with a majority of colleagues that were younger or older than you? What were the opportunities and frustrations unique to that experience?
5. Ambition is a driving force for all the major characters in the novel. In what ways are Mack, Katya, and Sabrina’s ambitions similar? How do they differ? Do you think their ambition fulfills them or opens the door to disappointment?
6. In our increasingly digital age, as we put more and more of our lives online, is anything truly private? In what ways do the characters in the novel struggle with keeping the personal private?
7. Both Mack and Katya are attracted to Manhattan, and the opportunities it provides, as a chance to reinvent and make a name for themselves. What do their experiences suggest about the accessibility of the American dream? In what ways are they successful? In what ways do they fail?
8. The internet, and the tech world itself, is often idealized as a democratic space that provides equal opportunity in ways that the real world and other industries cannot. How does that ideal play out in practice over the course of the novel?
9. Do you think Mack, Katya, or Sabrina have any regrets?
10. Does Startup have a villain? Who, or what, is it?