Summary (From Amazon.co.uk)
Seventeen-year-old super tech geek Gilbert Garfinkle knew the future was going to be perfect, because he was going to invent it himself. He had it all planned. But a funny thing happened on the way to the future… Amber is the most beautiful girl he’s ever met, way out of his league. He can’t understand why she asks to go home with him, asks him to sit next to her on his vintage Star Wars sheets, and starts kissing him. Now once bitten and twice terrified out of his brilliant mind, Gilbert lies alone in his room in the dark, paralyzed, and pondering life’s ultimate question: “Why me?” WHY MY LOVE LIFE SUCKS—book one of THE LEGEND OF GILBERT THE FIXER—is the humorous science-fiction novel that proves it takes the ultimate geek to be the ultimate hero.
Author: Shevi Arnold
Length: 340 pages
Source: Copy provided by the author
Publication Date: February 1st, 2013
Why My Love Life Sucks follows Gilbert Garfinkle, a loveable geek who meets a gorgeous girl, Amber, who turns out to be a vampire. The story begins with Gilbert getting bitten, and both flashes back to how that happened, and how he deals with it afterwards. After Amber turns him, Gilbert not only has to try and pick up the pieces of his shattered dreams, he also has to try and figure out how he’s going to put up with Amber. Amber’s seriously hot, but that isn’t helping him any, since she has awful taste in men and wants to be BFF’s. She’s also somewhat impulsive, seemingly shallow and infuriates him to no end!
Why My Love Life Sucks is not the sort of thing I would normally pick up, because I rarely read humour (doesn’t that make me sound boring), and because while I do read paranormal, it would never have occurred to me to look for a funny vampire story! However, Why My Love Life sucks genuinely had me chuckling while I read it. Filled with witty dialogue and geeky references, it’s not only funny, it’s funny in a way that makes you feel good about yourself! There’s the occasional humour from the situations Gilbert finds himself in, but there’s also lots of inside jokes and one liners that had me elbowing my other half to say “Listen to this…” regularly.
Gilbert is very definitely a geek – he fixes arcade game machines as a hobby, has various pieces of customised computer gadgetry and he’s a Star Trek fan. Having said that, Why My Love Life Sucks, is not at all elitist, it’s very relatable and not just for the hardcore geeks. Gilbert’s witty, and funny, and it’s not the sort of geek humour that has you cringing on behalf of the characters. It’s more the sort of humour that makes The Big Bang Theory so popular (and there’s even a reference or two).
Why My Love Life Sucks is written in first person, from Gilbert’s point of view, which is something I was a bit wary of at first. However, it’s that first person perspective that makes Gilbert such a success. It helps build Gilbert up into a very convincing, likeable, three-dimensional character very quickly, and his voice continues convincingly throughout the whole book – you really do feel like you’re getting inside his head.
Amber was refreshing as a YA character – yes she was gorgeous, but she was also quite insecure, and had some self-worth issues. This isn’t a character flaw though, but an issue that’s actually addressed throughout the story.
Gilbert is by far the best character, but the smaller characters are worth mentioning to. Gilbert’s family are a little strange. There’s his aloof mother who barely talks to him and insists he calls her by her name, and Uncle Ian, who tries to look out for Gilbert and steps in to act as a sort substitute parent when necessary. Gilbert’s friends are all likeable and convincing enough. Dylan, his best friend, has a very mild sort of Howard Wolowitz (?) vibe going on, but he’s also a good friend to Gilbert, and he gives some great insight into Gilbert’s character. Dungeon Master Dave (as in Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master, not as in S&M club Dungeon Master) was also a really interesting character, and I enjoyed his conversation with Gilbert (though I can’t say anymore without spoilers).
All in all, Why My Love Life Sucks was a pleasant surprise, with just the right mix of vampire drama and humour. Was it the funniest book I’ve ever read, probably not, but it was enjoyable, and (as strange as this sounds) it was a really comfortable read. The writing style is very easy to read, and flows nicely. I found the chapters a great length; short enough that I felt confident reading “just one more” even with limited time, but long enough that they did move the story forward. The pop-culture references and Gilbert’s witty monologue drew me in more than the plot itself, but I’m definitely still curious about book 2.
Buy it? I don’t know if I’d buy the paperback (it’s currently £7 and that’s pretty much always out of my budget), but I’d be happy to buy the Kindle version (currently £1.91).
In a nutshell: A promising start to a new series, pleasantly surprising and genuinely funny.