The Underwriting by Michelle Miller

In brief: The news that #1 dating app Hook is going public astounds Wall Street. But for those involved, it’s the start of a long journey that will take them to a place they don’t expect.

The good: There’s always something astounding on the next page as the story combines work, love, murder, drive, sex and finance.

The not-so-good: NEED. SEQUEL. NOW.

Why I chose it: Thank you to Text Publishing & Goodreads for the First Reads win.

Year: 2015

Pages: 372

Publisher: Text Publishing

Setting: Primarily the USA, with some European and Middle East travel.

My rating: 9.5 out of 10

There aren’t too many books these days that I start reading on the day they come into my house. (Welcome to the life of a compulsive book purchaser). But one flick through The Underwriting convinced me that I needed to read this baby, now. It’s like the madcap energy that the characters have to pull off one of the biggest, hottest listings on the stock market in record time infused me on opening the book. Plus, with points of view from multiple characters and an opening line of, “you’re much an asshole”, how could I resist?

Despite the pink of the title, The Underwriting is not a girly book. It’s more like a financial thriller (yes, Michelle Miller proves that finance can be sexy and interesting). A group of relatively young Wall Street employees of L.Cecil need to prepare an IPO (initial public offering) for Hook, a dating app kind of like Tinder which has the iGeneration mesmerised. Todd gets the unexpected phone call from the geeky, socially awkward founder of Hook, Josh. The catch is – Todd must run the IPO. L.Cecil needs the good publicity, so Todd prepares his team – Beau, who is more of a playboy; Tara who is wrapped up in the no-sleeping, no-eating, no-fun life of Wall Street and junior Neha (who is just a little too into work life). It won’t be easy. But when you throw in a jilted hook-up, a murdered college student and a CFO who wants it all, now…life just got difficult for the L.Cecil crew.

I absolutely adored The Underwriting. I almost didn’t want to finish it because that would mean the end. It had everything I was looking for in a book – drama, intrigue, double-crossing, interesting and unique characters and a mystery which just gets deeper and deeper… The drama reaches a crescendo as Hook opens on the market and all the characters motivations, knowledge and secrets come to the forefront. The ending is spectacular and blasts into oblivion everything you thought you had figured out. I believe there is a sequel in the works and I hope that will astonish me and entertain me in the way that The Underwriting did.

The plot is so fast paced, it’s like being there on the ground – yet I didn’t forget any of the plot threads or character names, which can happen in books with loads of characters. The characters vary in how likeable they are. Nick, the CFO of Hook is almost a laughing stock in his one track mind to be the best of the best. He’s kind of pathetic in his desire. Todd is the leader of the L.Cecil group and he genuinely doesn’t realise what an idiot he can be, but he tries so hard that he’s very likeable. Tara is probably the most likeable of the characters for me – possibly because we see her human side much more than the male characters. She’s uncertain and anxious under her work persona and reflects that uncertainty in your twenties when you wonder, ‘what the hell am I doing?’ The supporting characters are just as memorable – Rachel, the cool PR girl with a ready remedy for any situation to seedy, creepy Josh who really isn’t what you want your dating app creators to be like.

Although the book is primarily a thriller, it covers serious topics too. Tara is told she’s there to look pretty for the investors, not for her brain. Julie, the receptionist at Hook is there because of her looks – but very few know that she understands (and is taking down) every little detail. The Underwriting shows that sexism is still rampant in this industry and women have to sacrifice even more to ‘make it’ (Tara’s wannabe mentor for example, has alienated her husband and children). There’s also the concept of privacy online and exactly what is happening (and who is looking) to your data. What happens if that information was used for evil?

I could go on and on, but I really suggest you read The Underwriting. It’s a page-turner that will have you forgetting time as you continue to read and read and read!

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