Is the American Dream really all that it’s cracked up to be?
A ten-year-old boy drifts off at the park and dreams about reaching the top of an octopus-shaped skyscraper in an urban fantasy world reminiscent of Corporate America. An unsuspecting job candidate, Dakota lands a position at the Creature Company and encounters several human-like animals that echo the variety of workplace personalities and regional dialects within the United States on his way.
He comes across the rat race, office romance, and a golf tournament, among other workplace situations, and ultimately climbs the Ladder of Diminishing Rungs; but when he finally reaches the top and has his performance review, he finds himself fighting for his job and his very life.
The satirical tale plays with many themes characteristic of America and its corporate culture as seen through the expert eyes of a child, giving the story popularity with adults as well as children. From a rudimentary perspective, the novel is about the trials and tribulations of growing up, or overweight, or old. But from another more complex one, it concerns ridiculous points of sharp humor, such as the American Dream, the rat race, racism in the workplace, the corporate ladder and hierarchy, office romance, an unhealthy love affair with body image, the obsession with prescription medication, the work and coffee culture, the constant fear of losing one’s job, the importance of golf in career success, happy hour and team-building exercises, age discrimination, and the diversity of dialect found in the United States.
To define the charm of the Dakota book—with those wonderful eccentric characters the Greenback Squirrel, the White Mouse, the Black Rat, the Bigwig, the Chairman, the Big Boss, the Westchester Whelp, the 800-pound Gorilla, etc.—as merely an adolescent arousal would convey a lack of proper understanding, for it really comprises a satire on language, a corporate allegory, a reflection of contemporary history, and a parody of twenty-first-century children’s literature.