Title: The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss
Author: Max Wirestone
Source: Redhooks Books on NetGalley (A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.)
Check this book out on Goodreads.
The odds of Dahlia successfully navigating adulthood are 3,720 to 1. But never tell her the odds.
Meet Dahlia Moss, the reigning queen of unfortunate decision-making in the St. Louis area. Unemployed broke, and on her last bowl of ramen, she’s not living her best life. But that’s all about to change.
Before Dahlia can make her life any messier on her own she’s offered a job. A job that she’s woefully under-qualified for. A job that will lead her to a murder, an MMORPG, and possibly a fella (or two?).
Turns out unfortunate decisions abound, and she’s just the girl to deal with them. (Source: Goodreads)
Dahlia Moss is not a detective, which is why it’s very strange when she’s hired to investigate a theft. What makes it even stranger is that the person who hired her winds up dead a few days later. Suddenly Dahlia’s investigating much more than just a theft, and all the people she’s met begin to look like suspects. Are the crimes related? Can she trust anyone?
I did not enjoy this book at all. This book sounded like it could be an interesting mystery about a girl finding herself along the way. There was some of that sure, but mostly it was drowning in really bland “nerd culture” references that for some reason Wirestone thought were obscure even though it was Pokemon stuff. The other thing is book had too much of? Oblivious, Mary-Sue female leads who lacked any charisma or chemistry. I didn’t find Dahlia interesting and did not care about her investigation at all.
The plot of this book is something of a mess. It starts out sort of straightforward but things sort of spiral out of control and then Dahlia just loses control of everything. A big part of that is her roommate who just does random stuff which seemed like a plot device from Wirestone to explain away all the issues with Dahlia being 1. bad at her job and 2. unable to make an progress on anything herself. She is idle and the plot still spirals into madness. The other thing is that things are concluded without you being able to figure it out yourself, there isn’t any element of mystery because the resolution and how Dahlia reaches it is out of the reader’s grasp – she keeps secrets from you and doesn’t give you the excitement of making guesses about the plot.
Dahlia on top of that is boring. She is very dull. She’s written in such a strange way, where she is both overly proud of her nerdiness and deeply ashamed of it. This mostly comes through in her attitude towards non-typical nerds. She is astounded that anyone would ever know what Pokemon is (major eyeroll from me there). She does a lot of whining and reminding you of her character faults which are supposed to be…cute? Maybe? I don’t know. There are a lot of characters in this book, many of these characters were so hard to call to mind but constantly show up which meant I got a lot of them confused for each other.
There was a major problem with chemistry in this book. That is, a major lack of chemistry. I didn’t find the romances or friendships believable. They were all kind of forced and awkward. Dahlia starts…dating (?) a guy…kind of? She and this guy have no connection, there’s no relationship really established and you’re supposed to feel like you love him, which I did not. I found him incredibly annoying. I had the same issue with Dahlia’s roommate, the overly random one, with whom she has a terrible relationship. The only really chemistry Dahlia has is with the police officer, and nothing comes of it.
There’s another issue I had personally. The racism. There’s no outright hatred towards anyone in particular, but there are some pretty problematic treatments of Asian characters, East Asian and Indian in particular. There’s a set of recurring assumptions about Asians in this book that really annoyed me. Asians are mean, they don’t speak English, they all have accents, and so on. This was problematic and really compounded on the other issues.
I would not recommend this book at all and I do not intend to read any other Dahlia Moss books that may come out.
Have you read The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
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