A review by vigil
Alone With You in the Ether, by Olivie Blake

challenging dark emotional reflective sad tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

1.0

reading this book gave me a minimum of six migraines. i was taken on an emotional rollercoaster up and down, and up and down, and then down, down, down, down.

have you ever read a book that you reasonably enjoyed, dragging in some portions, flawed prose, but overall enjoyable….. until the final portion when the narrative fully reveals itself and recontexualizes everything prior? that was my experience.

it is more ya purple prose than plot, dragging the reader on paragraph after paragraph of the same topic over and over and over again. this is much more prominent in the last third of the book which i found painful to read. any of the earlier chemistry that aldo and regan had is abandoned for description after description of all the times and ways they fucked in the same YA purple prose style and it didn’t mesh well. it was several sex scenes back to back and it was too many imo, and this is coming from ME, sex scene enthusiast. i mean truly. i don’t need a play by play of every single time these people had sex, (a little bit of intrigue would’ve gone a long way!) and certainly not all at once. give me some room to breathe please. just write a handful (1-3) of really good quality sex scenes, (space them out PLEASE) maybe a mention here and there, a maximum of TWO snippets and stop. this could just be my lesbianism jumping out, but i stand by my point.

in the beginning, it is written in a play-like style, with a narrator often interjecting to provide context, or to set the scene, which i enjoyed. naturally of course, this is almost immediately abandoned, then haphazardly thrown in at the end like the author forgot about it. it is very very obvious this book is self-published because it desperately needed someone with professional experience to tell her to edit. instead we got whatever this is supposed to be. 

speaking of aldo and regan, what the fuck was that? any sort of prior chemistry they have is immediately abandoned once they actually get together, for what? at least 20 pages worth of sex scenes? previously somewhat layered characters with high potential end up becoming each other's manic pixie dream girls, only to get upset when your codependent love story turns out to be hinging off someone kind of fucked up? 

though to be fair, calling aldo and regan layered is quite generous. they are a hodgepodge of mentall illness and toxic traits masquerading as a personality. (that’s harsh, i’ll admit, but not untrue.) which is fine, i’m into that, but not entirely acknowledged for what they are, and they never move beyond that. regan is clearly spiraling her way through a manic episode and aldo eats it up, calling her passionate, and impulsive. this is meant to be a story about a woman learning to live without her meds but did she really? in general that’s a kind of story that i would enjoy, but i don’t think that was shown here. at least not sustainably or desirably. regan has a habit of being what people want or tell her to be, and when she picked her art back up (in an unhealthy almost obessive way) because aldo called her and artist, i saw that trend continuing.

i understand that this is a subject important and close to the author, but that doesn’t automatically make her capable of adequately portraying it. healthy is relative sure and regan will never not be bipolar, but at some point things are just plain old unhealthy across the board, and no amount of platitudes changes that. regan’s mental illness was portrayed well on its own in my opinion, but not within the context of a relationship. i can see why the concept and early execution would be important to many people, but in my opinion she completely fumbled the landing.

aldo is an entirely different beast, describing her the way a drug addict would think about coke. he even directly says she's an obsession, just like his drugs were. swapping one out for another isn't a love story, its a old and tired tale of codependency and not even the fun or interesting kind. in the last third of the book i just wished they'd go to therapy and stop wasting my time.

what’s honestly so disappointing to me about this book is that it had such high potential. i think it could’ve been  a frank and honest portrayal of what relationships are like when neurodivergent, but it went for romanticism and natterings over sense. to give blake some credit, i think that is what it tried to be in theory, but fell flat on its ass in execution.

also, this book needs to be edited so, so badly. it is self-published and unfortunately upholds all the negative stereotypes about self published books.

overall, i'm sick of thinking and reading this book and i'm glad its over.

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