The Darkly Funny “Intern’s Handbook”

18144009The Intern’s Handbook by Shane Kuhn
Simon & Schuster: April 8, 2014 (Thriller)

I’d go there again!
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So I picked up The Intern’s Handbook on a whim since I was in need of a new audiobook for the daily commute, and it totally and completely exceeded expectations. Not only was this darkly funny and action packed, but combined with pitch-perfect narration, it was one enjoyable listen.

John Lago is twenty-four and with his upcoming twenty-fifth birthday he’s nearing the age of retirement. Now what job has forced retirement at the age of twenty-five? Why, being an intern, of course. After all, “it is the cutoff point at which people begin to question anyone who would be willing to work for free” (p. 10) or at the very least call attention to the fact that you’re a “loser” and you absolutely do not want to call attention to yourself. John, you see, is a very special kind of intern. The killing kind and he’s “written” this handbook to help his fellow assassins successfully complete their missions:

If you’re reading this, you’re a new employee at Human Resources, Inc. Congratulations. And condolences. At the very least, you’re embarking on a career that you will never be able to describe as dull. You’ll go to interesting places. You’ll meet unique and stimulating people from all walks of life. And kill them (p. 5).

John’s embarking on his final mission for HR Inc. and he’s decided to share his tips and tricks with the new recruits at HR Inc., memoir-style. This time John is interning at a law firm in the hopes that he can get access to one of the firm’s partners who has been selling the locations of persons in witness protection. Access is why interns make the best assassins. Interns are rarely memorable, yet they become very trusted to the higher-ups, especially when they are armed with one good cup of coffee.

Rule #4: Learn how to make the perfect cup of coffee.

This is the single most important part of your job as an intern. Go ahead, laugh. You can make copies and do runs until you’re blue in the face and an exec will not give a shit. You make him the best goddammed cup of coffee he’s ever had and he may not remember your name but he will make damn sure you are at his desk every morning for a repeat performance. That’s repetitive exposure, which begets access and trust (p. 48).

However, John’s latest assignment is not going as planned even if his coffee making skills have the usual affect. Turns out the target isn’t the one John expected and he’s forced to maintain a romantic relationship with Alice, a junior associate, who also happens to be a federal agent. Unfortunately this charade becomes something much more than John expected. Could it be that the cold-blooded assassin is falling in love for real? Something tells me things are not going to end well for John and Alice.

The Intern’s Handbook is dark, funny and action packed. John’s advice is both relatable (at least the intern bits) and sarcastic. For anyone that has interned or volunteered their time for job experience, this it a story that will resonate and make you reflect that perhaps that job just might have been more exciting if you were an undercover assassin.

Peppered within the handbook are snippets from the FBI, who seem to be watching over their agent, Alice. And with this surveillance, readers are given another element to the story, the stuff that John leaves out.

The Intern’s Handbook is an insanely fun read. John’s advice for would-be assassins is fun (if a touch morbid) and makes for a damn fine listening experience. Part of what made this such a great audiobook is the sense that John is the one telling the story. I’m all for immersive storytelling and The Intern’s Handbook scored high with it’s audiobook.

If you’re a fan of outlandish, yet strangely relatable plots, The Intern’s Handbook is a great choice. For audio fans, this is also a strong listen, with the narrator embodying a seemingly unfeeling assassin. While John’s character and his motivations could have been more developed, for me, it was all about the unlikely situation.

Similar Reads

If you’re a fan of comedy in unlikely places, David Wong’s horror-comedy, John Dies at the End is an excellent follow-up selection. It’s bizarre and weird, but compelling and funny. If you were at all a fan of the narration style in The Intern’s Handbook, Wong’s tale just might intrigue you.

John Dies at the End (John Dies at the End, #1)

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