The Pisces by Melissa Broder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“The Pisces” by Melissa Broder is a surprisingly refreshing twist on a character falling in love with a mythical creature and it blowing up in her face.
(Read on audiobook so some names might be spelled incorrectly with comments on the mediocre performance by the author) After a breakup with a longtime boyfriend while floundering on her doctoral project in the Phoenix desert, Lucy switches out her environment to head to sunny beach paradise Venice, California to dog-sit for her older sister. As she sort of bonds with the sickly foxhound Dominic, she nurses her heartbreak with a support group. The group bores her but she finds a friend in Claire, who in her awful accent convinces Lucy to try Tinder since she herself prefers a “harem” of men amid her pending divorce. Lucy decides a harem might be what she needs too, but it turns to uncomfortable situations such as sex on a hotel bathroom floor and sex in a cramped car. But to find solace, Lucy goes to the rocks at the beach and one night the perfect man appears. The lovemaking is amazing, and as they become closer, Lucy finds out Theo, whose voice needed male narration because the author’s voice made him come off even more feminine according to how she described him, is a merman. As Lucy tries to figure out how to fit Theo into her life such as dragging him in a wagon to her house where Dominic senses something funny about the merman, she believes he’s the medicine for her pain until Theo inflicts even more pain.
First of all, there are a lot of bad reviews on this book. I worried about reading it since I couldn’t get into the author’s last best-seller. But the rawness in this book makes it stand out. There will be criticism over the very flawed character Lucy, who at 38, is still lost and acts more like she’s 28. She lost her mother when she was young. She’s taking almost a decade to work on a dissertation on Sappho. She’s looking for a quick fix after her relationship falls apart. She’s not responsible enough to care for a dog. Her journey, though messy most of the time, seems authentic. Also, Claire, who Lucy freely takes advice from, is also battling her own demons with depression.
The book spends a lot of time establishing Lucy’s environment and the characters in it, but many of the characters don’t really last such as the university community or the Tinder dates. So it takes time to get to the merman erotica parts, and the merman needs a bit more believability, but he does come off as a possible figment of Lucy’s imagination as she becomes so enthralled with him that she’s willing to lose it all to be with him, as in she battles the focus of all merman/mermaid tales of if she’s going to live underwater to follow her heart or stay on land. This book has deeper elements to it if you can look beyond the graphic sex scenes and questionable mythical creature description.
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