Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review: Read Bottom Up by Neel Shah and Skye Chatham

Life is different for every generation. My generation has come to the computer as adults and while digital media has assumed a huge part of our lives, we didn't have it for many of the most pivotal times of our lives. But young adults today have it in every aspect of life. They have it for the big things and the little ones too. They have it to make major announcements or to scrutinize the tiniest detail. This utter pervasiveness means that almost everything is documented in their lives in ways that they never have been before. In Neel Shah and Sky Chatham's quirky modern epistolary novel inspired by and updated to fit with the digital media of our age, Read Bottom Up, the entire life cycle of a two twenty-something's relationship is laid out in email and text, not only from their perspectives but from those of their closest friends as well.

Elliott is a chef. Madeline works for a cookbook publisher. The two of them meet at the soft opening for a new restaurant and after Elliott gets Madeline's email, they start an email flirtation that blooms into a full scale relationship. The tale of their relationship plays out in their emails and texts to each other and in the side emails and texts they share with David and Emily, their respective best friends. Each phase of their relationship is played out on screens, from first date to the intoxication of early relationship to misunderstandings to fights to conflicted feelings. And that's just between Elliott and Madeline. David and Emily are also present in the relationship, there to offer advice, to help tease out the hidden meaning or intentions behind seemingly innocuous comments, and just generally to prop up their respective friends when things don't seem to be going quite like the fairy tales.

The way this novel was written, with the authors writing emails to each other but being completely in the dark about the side emails written between the friends, gives this a real ring of truth about relationships now. It definitely has the feel of twenty-something dating life for sure. The emails and texts range from funny to terse, casual to intense. While this method of communication highlights the insecurities of the characters, it does make it hard to fully flesh out the characters since they are on their best behavior, guarding their emotions, and projecting their best presence to their partner. Only in the side conversations with their friends do their individual histories and personalities occasionally shine through which makes it hard for the reader to get to know the characters very well or to feel invested in their relationship together. But it definitely accurately captures eight or so months of twenty-first century love and relationship, the drama, the cyber stalking, the apathy, and the uncertainty of it all in its pages. In general, the novel was a quick, short read without too much meat on its bones but fun and light entertainment for all that.

For more information about Neel Shah and Skye Chatham and the book, check out the book's Goodreads page. Follow the rest of the blog tour or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't have the internet when I was dating, and I'm sure it would have changed a lot of things about my relationships back then!

    This sounds like quite an entertaining read. Thanks for being a part of the tour!


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