I finally read another book by Olivie Blake. And it was…something.
About the Book
From Olivie Blake, the New York Times bestselling author of The Atlas Six, comes an intimate and contemporary study of time, space, and the nature of love. Alone with You in the Ether explores what it means to be unwell, and how to face the fractures of yourself and still love as if you’re not broken.
Two people meet in the Art Institute by chance. Prior to their encounter, he is a doctoral student who manages his destructive thoughts with compulsive calculations about time travel; she is a bipolar counterfeit artist, undergoing court-ordered psychotherapy. By the end of the story, these things will still be true. But this is not a story about endings.
For Regan, people are predictable and tedious, including and perhaps especially herself. She copes with the dreariness of existence by living impulsively, imagining a new, alternate timeline being created in the wake of every rash decision.
To Aldo, the world feels disturbingly chaotic. He gets through his days by erecting a wall of routine: a backbeat of rules and formulas that keep him going. Without them, the entire framework of his existence would collapse.
For Regan and Aldo, life has been a matter of resigning themselves to the blueprints of inevitability—until the two meet. Could six conversations with a stranger be the variable that shakes up the entire simulation? (via Goodreads)
Alone With You in the Ether is a hard book for me review. It took me about a month to read despite it being less than 300 pages, and I was honestly left a bit befuddled once I’d finally finished it. It was the kind of reading experience where I kept hoping the book would get better the more I read on, but that never happened.
This story centers a romantic connection between our two protagonists, Regan and Aldo. I’ve seen the book be coined as a love story, and while that may be true, it definitely wasn’t an enjoyable romance by any means. Separately, Regan and Aldo were fascinating characters to read about–Regan was nearly a felon in her past and Aldo has a niche interest in time as a tangible concept,–but I just didn’t buy the forced theme of inevitability and destiny that Blake attempted to sell for their romance. It almost felt as if the book would have fared better as a “missed connection” story since the scenes of their actual romantic relationship were so lost in the excess of the writing.
I loved Olivie Blake’s writing in The Atlas Six—it’s opulence and pretentiousness worked well with that series and its characters. In Alone with You in the Ether, however, Blake’s writing felt extremely forced and almost at odds with the story she attempted to craft. The inner-monologue of both Regan and Aldo was drawn out nearly to the point of incoherence, and the dialogue between the two was unbearable to read at times.
Overall, this book just did not work for me. I’ve written before that Olivie Blake’s writing and her stories will either scratch the perfect itch for some readers, or not work at all for others. Unfortunately, I fell into that latter camp for Alone With You in the Ether.
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