Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Publisher/date: Harvard Square Editions (December 6, 2020)
"The android population was out of control at the Hotel Dido."
"That didn't bother me as much as the programmed people. They weren't human beings anymore."
Doctor Olivia is trying to find a cure for a pandemic. Well, sort of a pandemic. An ancient disease brought on by the melting of the polar ice caps has caused the upper echelon of society, the "men who rule the world," to sort of morph into plants. She discovers that the underlying cause is that the men are incapable of love, and therefore have no way to commune with life around them, and so, in the body's desperate search to commune with nature, they literally grow roots and become stationary.
So she aims to create a Loveoid, a way to reverse the "survival of the fittest" and turn it into "survival of those who love the most."
But just when she receives the grant to do her research, her hotel is attacked and she is taken away by Khalid, a farmer half her age who wants a wife.
He locks her away on his farm, but she continues her research, and through unconventional methods makes progress towards the cure through more natural methods.
So based on that, I bought this book, thinking that it would be excellent. What proceeded was a case of Stockholm syndrome and abuse that the author continually justifies.
I take notes when I read books, to give me a chronology of my feelings throughout the book. Here's a few gems:
So the plot starts out weird and disorganized, like a brain dump on paper. The premise is good, interesting, political, unique.
But I don’t feel anything.
And then we venture into the WTAF. From the first moment they meet I'm confused. Does she like him or is he kidnapping her? When it’s obvious that he is treating her appallingly bad and she STILL experiences sexual attraction, I had to google the author to see if this was written by a man. A very egotistical chauvinistic man. But no. Woman.
It gets weirder.
We’re in full Stockholm syndrome mode here and I don’t feel suspense. I don’t feel fear. I don’t even really feel interest. All I feel is disgust, and I only continue because I need relief from this feeling. I need to see that the author is going somewhere with this, that it’s not all for nothing. That this isn’t some oppressive version of 365 days. Rape triggers, emotional abuse triggers. All the triggers.
Me: Finished book. Lays down book. “What a piece of shit.”
Husband: *looks up from phone, is actually interested in what I'm reading for once!*
I had to get on an ARC group I'm on to ask how best to handle the review of a book I so badly hated. They suggested the "sandwich method," good comment, bad comment, good comment again. So here we go.
The good. The author is quite obviously a talented writer with a flowering imagination. The book us so well written that while I hated it, I easily could still finish it.
The bad. If the author had the intent of conveying that the man was not a kidnapper (I only think this due to the synopsis published on the back,) then she should not have had him hide all the ways for her to leave and repeatedly mention kidnapping. This is kidnapping, whether she thinks the dude is hot or not.
The good. I like that the intent of the book was to be inclusive of other cultures and diminish prejudices. (Again, getting this from the synopsis.) The woman wraps her head, and though it never states her religion, we do find out that its not Muslim like the man. Which is strange that this is stated because she repeatedly says things similar to "for Allah's sake."
The bad. He flat out emotionally abuses her. Calls her fat when she annoys him. Won't bring her in public because he's embarrassed about their age difference. I mean, he has kidnapped her in all the ways that count. He hides the keys so she cannot leave, and will not take her out of the house where she might find a way to escape him. There's even one seen where he degrades her during sex, performing things against her will, not because they're into BDSM, but to punish her. She's more educated than him and he hates that about her, he always has to feel better than her. That's not a relationship, that's abuse. At first I was disgusted, then I was angry, but now I'm concerned. If this is what the author thinks a loveing relationship looks like, someone needs to go check on J.L. Morin. Like please, if anyone knows her, if her publisher is reading this, please someone go check on her. Was this a cry for help? I kind of hope so, because if not, this is a book that could be very damaging to women. This is not ok.
I'll finish with a good. The idea of this book had many great points.
I loved the thought that the act of loving could cure. "Love heals all wounds" and all that. The fact that the relationship wasn't love sorta ruined that for me, but the idea was good.
I found it interesting that she specifically made the point that she had not seen a case of the disease in women, like women were more capable of love than men. Yet another reason I feel like someone should check on the author - men are indeed just as capable of love but they don't show it because of cultural norms we teach them - this is a whole political issue that could have been expounded upon but she just sort of accepted it as truth. It's not what I believe but it seems to go along with the general opinion of the author that men are just men and we as women have to have grace and deal with it (if you know me at all, you can see why I have a problem with this. Just NO. Hold men accountable, we as women DESERVE BETTER. Do NOT ACCEPT bad treatment, MAKE THEM CHANGE. We are the queen goddesses of the earth who give life to humanity!)
The underlying idea is that medical companies do not test (and do things to PREVENT use of) any product they can't patent. *SPOILER* The doctor is trying to find a cure for a disease that only affects the top 1% of humans who have lost their humanity already, and the only redeeming quality of this book was that she found the cure and decided not to give it to them.
I absolutely HATE giving a book one star, but here I go, because I'm not sure this book should even be published. That's not love, and the fact that the doctor kept running back to this abusive kidnapper is appalling, unsatisfactory, and frankly it made my stomach turn. I wish I could lobotomize just the part of my brain that remembers I ever read it. 0/5, do not recommend.