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Then We Came to the End
Then We Came to the End
Author: Joshua Ferris
No one knows us quite the same way as the men and women who sit beside us in department meetings and crowd the office refrigerator with their labeled yogurts. Every office is a family of sorts, and the ad agency Joshua Ferris brilliantly depicts in his debut novel is family at its strangest and best, coping with a business downturn in the time-h...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780316016391
ISBN-10: 031601639X
Publication Date: 4/7/2008
Pages: 385
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.

3.2 stars, based on 161 ratings
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Then We Came to the End on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 12
âThen We Came to the Endâ by Joshua Ferris is part the movie âOffice Space,â part the sitcom âThe Officeâ and all a little too close to home for many office workers, including myself. Ferris is dead-on with his retelling of office life, from the gossips, to the style maven; from the strange older man, to the arm's-length boss.

This book could be taken as a fly-on-the-wall writing exercise, as Ferris places his readers right in the middle of the action for the entire book. Told in the omnipresent âweâ voice, the reader feels as if he could be the narrator, or one of the office workers mentioned or perhaps an office worker who hovers in the background all the time who escapes the other workers' scathing judgments.

As witnessed in many offices, afternoons are spent trying not to fall asleep from the lunch the workers just ate. Also, you don't want to get too much work done and make your fellow co-workers look lazy, but you also don't want to appear to be a slacker.

Ferris' office gets turned on its head when the downsizing begins. No one wants to make the dreaded escorted walk to the elevator with only a file-size cardboard box filled with your personal belongings as evidence that you did indeed work there. No one wants to be the one to make uncomfortable banter with the just-laid-off co-worker at the bar after work where everyone gathers to say goodbye to the latest downsizing victim.

And no one wants to see what will happen when the wrong person gets laid off on the wrong day.

âThen We Came to the Endâ is an engaging page-turner of a book that is sure to entertain anyone who has ever held, not just an office job, but ANY job. Its biting wit and sarcastic observation might just make you grateful for the office you currently work in.
isitfriday avatar reviewed Then We Came to the End on + 170 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
this book had so much hype around it, best book of the year, EW gave it top ratings, so i had high hopes for a fun office-type read... I just did not love it. i suffered through, thinking perhaps it had some nice twist at the end or something, but no, just pretty blah. i was glad when we came to the end...
reviewed Then We Came to the End on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
A lot of critics loved this book, and Entertainment Weekly said it was hilarious and a good choice for anyone who was jonesing for "The Office" (this was during the writers' strike). Wow, I really don't agree.

"Then We Came to the End" is satire -- in other words, either the whole thing is funny to you, or it's not. There are no jokes, clever wordplay, or other comedy elements. That's OK -- satire is a legitimate form of humor; but this one was decidedly not funny to me.

Also, the second-person plural voice used in the novel ("We did this, we did that") was really jarring for me. I just plain did not like this book.
reviewed Then We Came to the End on + 173 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Glorious and creative look at what happens when it all starts to crumble. Fantastic characters and a situation that is so real that it seems bizarre. Sadly - those of us that have worked anywhere with more than 10 employees will be able to identify ourselves and former co-workers among the characters. If you are or have worked with "creatives" it's a must read.
reviewed Then We Came to the End on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Then We Came to the End explores the relationships of people trying to keep above the increasing boredom of a high-powered world of marketing along the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago. The reader is immediately swept into this chaotic office environment and introduced to employees and employers in a sporadic fashion as the plot twists and turns through time; there is no linear progression of people or events as this tale unfolds. Through the unique perspective of a collective "we", Joshua Ferris illustrates how universal office life is across the country. The people he portrays can be in any office in any city and prototypes of these people are everywhere as this office is a paradigm of trends around the country. Many of these employees are from the same mold and seem almost interchangeable with each other as they state "[m]ost of us liked most everyone, a few of us hated specific individuals, one or two people loved everyone and everything". The reader follows the lives of these employees as they deal with strange coworkers, the kidnapping of a daughter, divorce, and unexpected pregnancy. We see these employees navigate through a less than wholesome office environment as major layoffs are occurring.

This work of fiction can be a bit tedious as the story jumps from one time period to another. Ferris chooses to reveal plot points in a slightly confusing manner exemplified in the character of Tom who, very early on, loses his job but keeps being pulled into the story as previous time periods are being described. The reader finds that past events are being described as if they are happening in the present. Are you confused yet?

The collective perspective of all the employees at once does drive home the essence of this monochromatic and universal office life, but in doing so, it does not allow the reader to empathize with the interchangeable protagonist. By creating this strange perspective, Joshua Ferris makes a clear statement about office life at the expense of understanding the employees themselves. The reader can never begin to understand the individuals in this work because we never see them as individuals, but as units of a whole that happen to act differently at times. An employee, Jeannine becomes the focus of the collective when she deals with the loss of her child in a strange manner. The reader, however, only sees the reaction of the collective and can only understand Jeannine through reactions of that collective.

In spite of some issues with this work, Joshua Ferris paints this mundane portrait in such a satirical and humorous way that the reader can't help but laugh and relate to many of the plot twists and descriptions. Then We Came to the End is an intriguing look into the fictional world of office life and Joshua Ferris does an excellent job of portraying this harrowing life. Readers can fully relate to the antics of employees and laugh at the dead-on descriptions of offices across the country.
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Readnmachine avatar reviewed Then We Came to the End on + 1438 more book reviews
This meandering tale of a group of co-workers who spend more time gossiping about one another than they do working, even in the face of an economic downturn, makes up in sheer style what it might lack in plot.

Ferris has assembled a cast of characters with the same kind of goofiness that pervaded âThe Officeâ and occasionally even rings with the same tone of âM*A*S*Hâ or "Catch-22", but without the blood. Even as the reader may be allowed a bit of impatience at the juvenile hijinks of the workplace, anyone who has ever worked in an office will recognize the petty frustrations and the ego-driven conflicts. A continuing thread dealing with the poaching of office equipment from recently-vacated cubicles is probably the funniest motif in the book; many of the other situations actually depend on an essential sadness that pervades cubicle-land.

Most of the book is written from an unusual first-person plural viewpoint: âWhen someone quit, we couldn't believe it.â âWe wanted to die looking stupid in front of Lynn, but we didn't mind it in front of Joe.â The single exception is a third-person chapter in the midst of all this middle-school nattering in which a character faces the prospect of a looming surgery that is terrifying to her.

âThe Thing to Do and the Place to Beâ could easily be a stand-alone short story, and one could entertain the notion that the rest of the novel actually sprang up to accompany it. Powerful and frightening, it's something that will stick with the reader for a long time, particularly if they have ever found themselves at a similar crossroads.

Ferris wraps all this up with a bittersweet coda set at a time when the team has gone their separate ways. Some questions are answered â a few with borderline unbelievable resolutions -- while others are allowed to play out unresolved.

Kind of like life, actually.
reviewed Then We Came to the End on + 15 more book reviews
A darkly funny and honest portrayal of office life.
ChrissyVas avatar reviewed Then We Came to the End on + 34 more book reviews
This was a rather lame read! If I could give 0 stars I would. After readig a 100 pages I finally had to put it down and call it quits. At first it was awesome and I could relate to the writer but then it just seemed to go on and on about the b.s. that goes on in an office. It seemed all that was done was complaining of the office gossip, who did what and who was going to be fired next.

I thought it would have been funnier but the laughs were far and few in between. It also seemed that every other word was a cuss word. I'm not a prude mind you, but when every other word is f*** this and b.s. that, it's like really? really? For an author his vocabulary is small, tiny in fact. It just wasn't a good book for me, sorry!
Claudielou avatar reviewed Then We Came to the End on + 77 more book reviews
Do you like the TV show, "The Office"? If so, then you'll love this book of quirky characters working together in a failing advertising agency.
reviewed Then We Came to the End on + 72 more book reviews
I REALLY enjoyed this book, I was kind of surprised at how much! It was quite hilarious in parts, but also has its fair share of drama, and is not "just" a book poking fun of or satirizing the modern workplace. The characters are not well-developed in the sense of what would be considered more "literature" / less pop fiction, yet I found myself feeling close to them, or thinking they were distasteful, or sympathizing with them... it's pretty interesting. Really good book, I thought it definitely was worth all the hype it received!
anrkistpengwin avatar reviewed Then We Came to the End on
Maybe I have a different sense of humor than the majority of the critics whose quotes grace the cover and interior of the book. I thought parts of the book were humorous (the ongoing tale of the chair comes to mind) but overall I wouldn't qualify it as a humor book, which it is kind of sold as.
KaneJ avatar reviewed Then We Came to the End on + 16 more book reviews
The group perspective was interesting but in some instances made it hard to follow who was doing what. It also seems to jump around in time a little which added to the confusion. It is a very interesting concept but was a little hard to read.
reviewed Then We Came to the End on
if you like the movie "office space" you may appreciate this book. not the best book ever written, but worthy of reading when you have many hours to travel. bought it in the airport and read it over my 2-week transatlantic travels. didn't see the end coming and i still remember it vividly which doesn't happen for me often. i tend to forget the details. but with this one, it stuck with me.
worth reading once but not a repeat offender.