Title: The Blondes
Author: Emily Schultz
Genre: Fiction / sci-fi / dystopia
Rating: 2.5 / 5
One of my friends on Goodreads added this to their TBR pile one day and I thought, “Thiller? Dystopia? Creepy blonde women? Sure!” So it sat on my to-read list until the moment I thought, “yeah, that sounds good right about now.” I saw that the ratings on Goodreads were quite low–3.04. But some of my favorite books of recent years have had similarly low ratings on Goodreads, so I’m often sympathetic when I see a book with a rating that low, thinking “oh you probably didn’t deserve that one.” Only in this case, it kind of does. The book doesn’t really deliver on its thriller/dystopia/creepy promise.
This book gets some truly scathing reviews, though, and I don’t know that it’s that bad. It was kind of bland though. Basically the story is about some new virus that only affects blondes–dyed or natural–and maybe redheads, and it’s like they get rabies and attack people. The book follows a narrator, a redhead, through her experience of it unfolding, since she basically witnesses the first attack, then a few others, then flees, then winds up in a detention for possibly contaminated people. And there’s a good dose of I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-academic-life as well as a heaping side of other-woman-now-pregnant. So it sounds like it should be really, really juicy, but it’s not. I think the “other woman” storyline was probably my favorite part of the book, I found how it played out fairly interesting.
But I don’t feel like this book gave much to me. At 400 pages, I think my reading time would probably have been better spent elsewhere. As I said before, it felt mostly bland, and it didn’t really raise any philosophical questions or push any ideas about…well, anything, really. It was just kind of ho-hum. With the amount of foreshadowing or ominous-sounding phrases dropped at every turn, it didn’t really deliver. I think this reached its peak when at one point the narrator intones, “It was the last time I would ever see her”–okay, great, but it was also like the second time you ever saw her and she’s basically a stranger to you and a minor character to boot, so like…why does it matter? It doesn’t, she just wanted to say “It was the last time I would ever see her” because it sounds ~creepy~ ~spooky~ ~ominous~ ~mysterious~, things that this book unfortunately is not. Just tossing a phrase out will not make it so.
I think I would have preferred this book if it didn’t even try to be “thriller” or “sci-fi” and just focused on the human relationships between the protagonist, her lover’s wife, and her longtime bestie, because those were the only parts of this book that really did shine.