REVIEW: The Impossible Us by Sarah Lotz
Bee thinks she has everything: a successful business repurposing wedding dresses, and friends who love and support her. She’s given up on finding love, but that’s fine. There’s always Tinder. Nick thinks he has nothing: his writing career has stalled after early promise and his marriage is on the rocks, but that’s fine. There’s always gin. So when one of Nick’s emails, a viciously funny screed intended for a non-paying client, accidentally pings into Bee’s inbox, they decide to keep the conversation going. After all, they never have to meet.
But the more they get to know each other, the more Bee and Nick realize they want to. They both notice strange pop culture or political references that crop up in their correspondence, but nothing odd enough to stop Bee and Nick for falling hard for each other. But when their efforts to meet in real life fail spectacularly, Bee and Nick discover that they’re actually living in near-identical but parallel worlds. With a universe between them, Bee and Nick will discover how far they’ll go to beat impossible odds.
CW: infidelity, suicide, partner emotional abuse
Dear Ms. Lotz,
First the cover said “investigate me.” So I did. Then the blurb said “You know you want to read me.” And I did. The opening email screed had me in stitches and I was hooked as Nick and Bee began their relationship through emails. Or in Nick’s case – imails. For much of the book I was frantic to find out “What would happen next” as this book is something I adore – unpredictable. Then it sort of started to change into something I wasn’t expecting and didn’t particularly care for. And that was before the ending.
I don’t want to give too many spoilers but the blurb basically hands over a big one. At this point, one character begins to investigate and realization of what may be happening arrives and is accepted very quickly. My brain would have been reeling. In the service of getting on to the next stage of the plot, some science hand waving goes on and everyone who knows settles down. Well everyone except for the people who aren’t told what’s going on until the plot needs them to know. A whole lot of people end up knowing.
Still I was caught up in the story. It’s different – at least I hadn’t read anything like it – and emotional and as I said, I didn’t know where it was going. Then it sort of turned into a pig on roller skates going in directions I hadn’t expected and ending up all over the place. Was it a romance? Or was it Sci-fi/fantasy? If a romance, was it happy or bittersweet? If Sci-fi/fantasy, was it vague or detailed? It couldn’t seem to decide what it was going to end up being. The characters are mostly well rounded and given enough flaws to make them feel real. I also liked that Bee and Nick are slightly older than the average romance couple.
Bee has a brilliant idea of how the two of them might work out a way to be together. But the more they traveled down this road, the more I didn’t like it. Several people who are aware of what is going on tell both of them that this isn’t right. I was nodding along with this. Bee and Nick manipulate people, lie, commit what might be thought of as “infidelity” (the characters seem to view it as this), and it made me very, very uncomfortable. Things go tits up in multiple ways and I couldn’t find it in me to be sorry about this even as I was concerned about how the book might end. Yeah and that left me unsatisfied on both counts. Nick, a writer, even mentions how sometimes book endings have readers leaving reviews in which they rail about “how could the writer have ended the book this way?” Yes to this.
What I wanted to happen didn’t. Or did it? The book finally uses some of the heaping amounts of set up situations, characters, and clues that have been sprinkled laboriously through it to get to an ending that might or might not be what readers want. I’m still unsure and am just going to accept that I’m apparently being left to decide what I want and that, whatever that might be, I now have it. This isn’t my personal choice – I prefer cut and dried over hazy maybe. YMMV and I know a lot of people will love this book but enough other things left me unsatisfied that the unusual-to-me plot and initial enjoyment of the banter and relationship couldn’t carry the day. C+