Review: The Pisces by Melissa Broder

The Pisces
by  Melissa Broder

An original, imaginative, and hilarious debut novel about love, anxiety, and sea creatures, from the author of So Sad Today.

Lucy has been writing her dissertation about Sappho for thirteen years when she and Jamie break up. After she hits rock bottom in Phoenix, her Los Angeles-based sister insists Lucy housesit for the summer—her only tasks caring for a beloved diabetic dog and trying to learn to care for herself. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube atop Venice Beach, but Lucy can find no peace from her misery and anxiety—not in her love addiction group therapy meetings, not in frequent Tinder meetups, not in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection, not in ruminating on the ancient Greeks. Yet everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer one night while sitting alone on the beach rocks.
Whip-smart, neurotically funny, sexy, and above all, fearless, The Pisces is built on a premise both sirenic and incredibly real—what happens when you think love will save you but are afraid it might also kill you.

(cover image and synopsis lifted from Goodreads)

Series: Standalone
Publisher: Hogarth Press
Publication date: May 1st 2018
Source/Format: eARC/Netgalley
Purchase links: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes&Noble | Book Depository
My Rating: ★★★☆☆

My Thoughts:
I am slightly conflicted with writing this review. I liked it but I have some issues. I liked that the writing is entertaining and easy to read. Lucy’s voice is casual and candid, with an ever present angst on the meaninglessness of things. So raw, so real. I liked the unique romance, although IMO Theo’s physiology could still be improved. I liked the ending of Lucy and Theo’s story of love and obsession. Heck, I even liked some of the sultry and sexy scenes.

My first problem is with the main character and her development. I don’t mind unlikable characters as long as there is some semblance of redemption or comeuppance for them in the end. As a person suffering from an addictive personality, I would want to read about a character who can give me some sort of inspiration. I would want to read about someone who can be a better person despite of his/her emptiness. There are people like that in here, Dr. Judith and some members of the support group, but they are not fully fleshed out and they exist solely as objects of Lucy’s scoff and scorn. At the ending where Lucy decided to go back to the glass beach house and into her sister’s arms, it does not mean that she is choosing to live or that she is remorseful. It is more of a coward act. She is counting on her sister’s trust and affection, with no intention to come clean at all. The book ended with Lucy still not accountable with the consequences of her wrong choices.

Next are the love scenes, hah, there are too many. I don’t mind personally but others might be grossed out with them. So consider yourselves warned: sex here are explicitly described, sometimes borderline soft porn, and one with menstruation involved. Again, I don’t mind. A girl needs some loin-stirring pages on her book. I don’t like that sex is a bit romanticized tho. Sex with rando guys are always bad (no orgasm) but sex with the love interest is always good??? It’s fairy tale-like (Lucy with her little mermaid-esque long luscious red locks, wink-wink), in the sense that the only person who can satisfy the princess in bed is the prince charming.

“The Pisces” is a pleasure but I hope there’s more to the plot and to the characters. Upon finishing the book, it slightly reminded me of “Shanghai Baby” which I’ve read when I was sixteen. I was young then so the sex scenes (there was also a period sex!) shook me to my core and now after all these years I can still remember the shock but I don’t remember whatsoever what the book was all about. I cannot say if I gained any insight from reading it or if it enriched my life in any form or way. I am afraid “The Pisces” would be just the same.

Diversity Watch:
Lucy – described with graying hair that she dyed auburn

Theo – Lucy’s love interest, described with fair skin and a wave of brown hair

Jamie – ex-boyfriend, described with sandy brown hair and deep blue eyes

Adam – Tinder rando guy, racially indeterminate

Garrett – Tinder rando guy, racially indeterminate

Chase – rando guy, described with receding brown hair and green eyes

Rochelle – Lucy’s friend in Phoenix, described with wiry hair

Diana – member of support group, described with long blond streaked hair

Brianne – member of support group, described as having too much botox and with hair in two long black braids

Claire – member of support group and closest to Lucy, described with long fiery, red curls

Sara – member of support group, racially indeterminate

Amber/Chickenhorse – member of support group, racially indeterminate

Dr. Judith/Jude – therapist in support group, racially indeterminate
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