From A to Zzzzzz


Book Review:  Dating the Alphabet by Samantha Napier

I received this book via netgalley. It sounded like a cute fun chicklit romance. But… What a mess it is…

At about the halfway mark I thought I was going to give up on it completely. But it became a bit like a train wreck, and me the rubber-necker desperate to read on to find out whether or not it would improve and if the lead character, Ramona, would ever redeem herself. I thought she did at one stage, but then towards the end her behaviour was once again so inappropriate (foreplay at a kiddies’ party, basically) that I felt she, and as such the book, pretty much remained without charm.

The book was written in the first person, so we get Ramona’s point of view on everything. And according to Ramona she is brilliant, funny, beautiful, the best manager and hardest worker ever, and a loyal and caring friend. Unfortunately her actions prove otherwise.

Let’s start with her career. Okay, lots of chicklit situations have the leads with their careers in the proverbial toilet, but Ramona’s view on her managerial skills and mine differ greatly. She not only drinks on the job (at one stage she claims she only drinks whilst working, as if that makes her alcoholism any better), she also sexually harasses her underlings on several occasions (when drunk), makes inappropriate comments on social media (when drunk), sends inappropriate texts to fellow employees (when drunk), and generally makes an utter fool of herself (when drunk). But according to Ramona her boss is lucky to have her! She’s the best manager ever! Sure!

And let me just add that Ramona never has a lightbulb moment where she realises that perhaps she isn’t so great at her job. Even when she faces disciplinary action from her boss, she rants that it’s not fair and he’s an idiot. Sure!

I’ll move on to the gold star she pins on her own chest for being the best friend ever. Deary me… Ramona is so completely egotistical and narcissistic she doesn’t even notice when her best friend is having marital issues. She also hasn’t seen her best friend’s kids in about three years. (This is despite the fact that her best friend seems to visit her every day.) She never ever asks her friend about her day/life/anything. If her friend does mention something about herself, Ramona quickly changes the subject back to what’s much more important — that is, Ramona.

Then there’s her lovely judgmental personality. Okay, it’s fun for a writer to find faults with the men her chicklit character is dating so that she can get to ‘the one’, but continually finding faults with their appearance/looks/age is so so so annoying. Especially when Ramona quite readily admits that some of the men have been nice to talk to/intelligent/witty, but that she isn’t interested in them because they aren’t good looking enough/too old. Sure! Because you’re such a catch, Ramona! (I should point out here that she is supposed to be around 40, so dating older guys should not be such a repulsive option for her.)

Okay, one positive. There are some funny moments in the book. Each chapter almost reads like an episode of a sitcom, except there always seemed to be something missing as I clicked onto the next one.

You know, I’ve always hated sitcoms and their cliche endings. The way we get to see the soft squishy side of even the most hardened characters (think Roseanne, Al Bundy etc) just before the credits roll. We usually get a ‘well, the moral of the story is’ moment too, which I’ve always rolled my eyes at in the past. But I now completely see the point of them. Ramona and her ‘friends’ were often placed in funny situations, but Ramona never showed any heart, and she definitely never found her moment of clarity.

Perhaps with tighter editing, this book might have worked. The idea sounded cute (however, I was rather flabbergasted to discover it wasn’t as original as I thought when I found a similar premise in a book called Alphabet Dating) but as it is, the end result is completely disappointing.

1 1/2 out of 5


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