Genre fiction lover: Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
This was such an interesting idea that fell a little flat in the execution. The book is a novella so maybe that contributed? Maybe if there was more word space some of the intriguing stuff could have gotten fleshed out more. This was a book that was begging for some sort of world building.
The year is 2100 and apparently the divorce rate is at an all time high. Some seventy years earlier a dating and matching system known as BioExpa was implemented (think of it as some sort of ultra-futuristic match.com) that had a 99% success rate in marriages that supposedly were lasting and happy.
They used an excessively thorough questionnaire, psychological testing, biological samples (hair, semen, saliva, blood) to create a profile. The process for setting up a profile could take over half a day. The contract was lengthy and binding and after the profile is set up, your life is monitored thoroughly. Some people are never matched. Most matches do not happen until years after a profile is set. This is not a case where you are sent out on dates, when you are matched with someone, you are matched. You have consented to actually marry that person sight unseen.
Over time the matches had proven so successful that BioExpa has become an accepted, almost required part of dating and marriage.
Of course there are still people in the world who are skeptical and prefer still doing things the old fashioned way. Meeting someone, having a connection and falling in love. In this book, our hero Jakob is that guy. He's never had a profile done and had never seen a need, but the woman he is dating refuses to consider marriage unless they are matched by BioExpa. So as the story begins we are with Jakob as he is filling out his profile questionnaire.
Of course, he isn't matched with his girlfriend Ella. He is matched with someone else, Sienna, a childhood friend and his sister's current best friend and business partner.
Like I said, the set up and concept of this is so fascinating. Also it had toe potential to explore a really juicy romantic dilemma. Jakob has signed an iron clad contract that says he needs to marry the woman the company has matched him with (there is a 30-day trial period the couple can invoke and annul the marriage during that time -- but this is rare). But he is in love with someone else. So what trumps? His own feelings or the assessment of a computer? Does the computer know him better than he know himself? Or since he is the one that filled out the questionnaire, is it just that the computer just fulfilling Jakob's subconscious desires? How does he decide what to believe?
The author kinda skates over that. Yes, there is some shock and dismay and some very uncomfortable moments since Jakob and Sienna are informed of their match in a very public way while his girlfriend is also present. And Jakob is an honorable guy so he is kinda stuck between his girlfriend whom he has made promises to and his --- wife --- also to whom he has made promises ...albeit abstractly.
The problem is, all of that gets handled a little too facilely. The author went the easy route, imo. The girlfriend, Ella, gets dispatched a little to simply and the road is clear for Jakob and Sienna to discover each other.
I would have liked a bit more struggle. A deeper look at what went into the match. Why these two? And I would have liked for Ella to not simply be collateral damage. And she was in more ways than one.
This is why I think the length worked against the book. It would have been fascinating to read more about the process than the couple of pages we got in the first chapter. It would have been interesting to get a stronger idea of just how BioExpa had infiltrated society & psyche to such an extent that people had essentially gone from an 'love match' society to an 'arranged match' society in the space of seventy years. It would have been more gratifying for Ella to be more than just a 2-dimensional obstruction since she was a real catalyst for Jakob to get the profile in the first place. As it was the only romantic conflict was Jakob and Sienna overcoming their awkwardness with each other. I don't think that was enough to hang a conflict on, especially given the slam-dunk set up that author has already established. And finally, there was a lot of telling and not enough showing.
That said, the book was sweet and Jakob and Sienna were a good couple. I don't mind a Beta hero, but there were a couple of instances where I thought he was a little too Beta. There is a difference between being a man of your word and letting yourself be manipulated. But still, I couldn't hate because the two mains were appealing.
This is a series, so hopefully she will expand a little on the world and the ideas. Looking forward to seeing if that happens.