Is it a male author thing? To write every last detail as if it matters, when it clearly doesn’t? This guy listed in jaw-dropping detail every single article of clothing, each part of every meal, and listed every book the main character read and telly series he watched. I’m not even joking. The story was absolutely pointless. Nothing ever happens. I’m actually at a loss for words to describe how empty this book is.
No, do not call it a character study. That is a cheap excuse for not being able to write an actual story. Beginning, middle, end. Yes, endings are hard. That doesn’t mean a writer doesn’t have to write them.
The first line is that the main character Mike’s life is crap. It then goes on to describe a life that isn’t crappy at all. It’s just boring. When I was in high school, I wrote a story about a girl who was bullied daily for being a chosen one of her god. You want to describe a crappy day, try having your main character tearfully picking candied orange peels out of her hair. Not a day full of telly.
I don’t want to go off on too much of a tangent, but honestly. It doesn’t even have to be that dramatic. The guy from Catherine had a crappy life, even if you take out the supernatural stuff. It can’t just be a guy whose life is unfulfilling–there’s gotta be some stress too, or his life is just unfulfilling.
There is no sense of pace in the book, because nothing actually happens. His life is described in total recall, literally down to a stop at McDonald’s in the first chapter. He wants to buy a robot sex toy companion whatever, but he’s worried about the money. HOWEVER, after he buys it, it’s revealed that he has plenty of money and then he and the ‘bot proceed to spend even more at every possible opportunity. Clothes are a favourite. There is actually more detail spent on telling the reader what the clothes look like and what the bland main character eats than there is in the sex scenes.
It’s just someone writing down something he wishes would happen. The whole thing reads as wish fulfilment, most especially one of the rare scenes with any conflict. Mike visits his daughter, then gets mad when her husband cops a feel of the robot. I get that, it’s cheating, kinda. But Mike–who is fifty, and has repeatedly been depicted as overweight–scares the husband so much that the guy wets his pants.
Power fantasies do not get more pathetic than that.
Another scene, where he gets stabbed protecting His Robot Girlfriend (title drop, I’m still not feeling awesome), the scene is actually pretty good. But he’s never in any danger. She (PREDICTABLY) has karate chop action and takes care of the rest, then calls an ambulance. And the best part: he knew who the random loser muggers were, and ID’d them as though it were nothing. I bought that along with the likelihood of a raincloud forming over my bed.
There are also repeated exchanges where the author clearly wanted to vent his spleen about petty subjects, such as babies having pierced ears and the “real men don’t eat quiche” line. That would be like me writing an entire vampire story just to sneer at the stupid Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots book I hated as a child. Considering that nothing happens and there is no over-arcing plot, those passages are rendered even more eye-rollingly pathetic, as their setup is made even more obvious. There is no context anyway, so they could never look in-context.