I received a free copy of The Biology of Luck via Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review.
I finished this book last night and I’m still not entirely sure how I felt about it. I absolutely hated it, with a fiery burning passion, while I was reading it. Starshine and Larry are obnoxious, pretentious people who embody the worst characteristics of my generation. I could not stand to read about them and literally had to force myself to keep going. That said, the book is very well-written. Appel has a way with words and was able to paint a very vivid picture of New York City to someone like me, who has never been there before.
But how many stars can you really give a book you hated?
I have to deal with a lot of people, and a lot of nonsense, every day. When I come home and curl up with a book, I don’t want to deal with more nonsense. I want likable characters.
I don’t want Starshine, who in one breath says that men are harmless and in another is saying how she’s afraid to be alone with a florist because men are only out to molest her. I don’t want to hear about how she uses her good looks to con lonely bankers into giving her their own money, or how she doesn’t want to work for any business that forces her to wear shoes. I don’t want to hear her complaining about her aunt because it’s no longer pleasant to visit her. I don’t want to read about how she wants to, but doesn’t want to, break up with her two… lovers? Boyfriends? I don’t need to read about how the entire world is in love with Starshine – literally EVERYONE IN HER LIFE.
I don’t want Larry, who hates himself and seriously contemplates suicide several times over the course of a walking tour. I don’t want to hear him rolling around in self-pity because he’s not good-looking, not rich, not good in bed. I don’t want to read about his pretentious friends and their meetings at an upscale McDonalds. Larry seems to almost stalk Starshine, at least through his book, writing about her travels through the city, her encounters with her lovers, all building up to her date with him that same evening. Larry, and his book, were very creepy.
I don’t want to read about unpleasant people. I kept waiting for some revelation that would make them more likable, something that would shed some light on why they act the way they do. It didn’t come. I was both happy to finish this book, and unhappy, because the ending of the book was so entirely disappointing.
In the end, I think I can safely award The Biology of Luck two stars – one for the writing and one for making me care about the status of Larry’s book.