This is a niche read – geeky mystery with lots of references that might slide past the uninitiated, but as a member of the uninitiated – I scored a 6/10 on our high school scifi geek test only because the club sponsor gave me hints – I have to say this book is still a riot. I’m not sure this is YA so much, but I’m glad I got a chance to read this little gem. I’ve got my eye on you, Max Wirestone, and I’m buying your next book.
For fans of The Guild, New Girl, Scott Pilgrim, Big Bang Theory, Veronica Mars, or anyone who has ever geeked out about something.
The odds of Dahlia successfully navigating adulthood are 3,720 to 1. But never tell her the odds.
Meet Dahlia Moss, the reigning queen of unfortunate decision-making in the St. Louis area. Unemployed, broke, and on her last bowl of ramen, she’s not living her best life. But that’s all about to change.
Before Dahlia can make her life any messier on her own she’s offered a job. A job that she’s woefully under-qualified for. A job that will lead her to a murder, an MMORPG, and possibly a fella (or two?).
Turns out unfortunate decisions abound, and she’s just the girl to deal with them.
Dahlia is a fabulous narrative voice, and despite her Millennial aimlessness, jobless and penniless existence, and dating disaster rut of a life, I really enjoyed every moment of her cheeky, clueless story. She is one of the funniest protagonists I’ve read in quite some time. The secondary characters, too, add a lot of engagement to the story and realism to the post college, not quite settled life. I’m talking about that stage when you own furniture that has duct tape performing essential tasks and you have only condiments and alcohol in your fridge. I particularly enjoyed Charisse, Dahlia’s roommate – she is one hot mess of fun, and it just wouldn’t have been the same without her flitting around in the background.
The plot is one where minor things, like the theft of a spear in a multiplayer online game like World of Warcraft, are made into impossibly huge issues that blossom into real life disaster that is marginalized by the minor issues, like the theft of a digital spear. I found it hilarious, but more staid readers searching for a serious book need not apply. This is a purely escapist read of the laugh out loud variety. Lots of the humor came from references to movies, books, and pop culture that I did “get,” and the ones that I didn’t get were well enough explained that I felt part of the joke anyway. I do think younger readers will struggle with these references more than new adults, so while I thought this was a YA book, I would say that 20 and 30 somethings will enjoy it more.
Overall, this is a great read when you just want to laugh and enjoy characters who are more directionless and less prepared to be adults than you are. I couldn’t help but feel like I was reading a hipper and more contemporary take on an American Bridget Jones. It also reminded me a bit of Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments. I can think of three friends right now who I desperately want to gift this book, but I think it would be a harder sale to high school readers.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.