The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss
By: Max Wirestone
Format/Source: eARC courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley
The odds of Dahlia successfully navigating adulthood are 3,720 to 1. But never tell her the odds.
Meet Dahlia Moss, the reigning queen of unfortunate decision-making in the St. Louis area. Unemployed broke, and on her last bowl of ramen, she’s not living her best life. But that’s all about to change.
Before Dahlia can make her life any messier on her own she’s offered a job. A job that she’s woefully under-qualified for. A job that will lead her to a murder, an MMORPG, and possibly a fella (or two?).
Turns out unfortunate decisions abound, and she’s just the girl to deal with them.
I forgot how I found out about this novel–it was through GoodReads somehow–but the premise was awesome enough for me to add it to my wishlist. So I was especially delighted when I was approved an eARC of this book from the publishers through NetGalley to read for review. This book will be available on 20 October 2015.
Simply put: I loved this book (if you checked out my summer wrap-up post for 2015 last month, you’d know how much I wanted to gush about it since reading it back in August): it was funny, it was intriguing, totally understood where Dahlia was coming from in her life.
Let’s start with the funny. I loved Dahlia’s little remarks and observations about the various people she meets over the course of this very strange case she’s been hired to complete, not to metion the nature of the case itself (seriously: to retrieve a item from an MMORPG?) and how she came to be recommended (I was as flummoxed as Dahlia–but don’t worry, everything is explained). She is totally aware of how absurd the situation is, how life can’t surely be nudging her this direction, but given the realities of her life at that particular moment–long unemployment stint, almost no money, crashing at a friend’s (?) place–I totally understand why she’d go through with it anyway. And it is a very strange case. But I love all of her little comments and geek culture-examples and connections she makes along the way (especially the Pokeman ones, haha; and the Doctor Who comments; etc.). It’s great.
The mystery itself was very curious, as it starts off dealing with an MMORPG theft but then real life makes things a whole lot more grimmer and confusing. I think I’e read enough mystery novels at this point to suspect everyone she comes across–even Nathan (heartbreaking as that prospect would be; he was just a loveable doofus throughout xD). I love how Dahlia is determined to solve this case even as absurd as its beginnings were; it was also interesting how the Zoth MMORPG found its way into the story, bridging the online mystery with the real-life mystery. She and her endlessly strange friend/acquaintance/lodger Charice had some rather interesting ways of going about their detective work 🙂
Which brings me to Dahlia as a character. I absolutey loved and can totally relate to her from the employment situation to the geek culture stuff to trying to figure out people and the state of her social life. As the story progressed it became clear that things sort of went south after one particular event in her life but it was interesting to see how much that actually affected her (I was honestly surprised, I thought it was just a footnote on top of everything else going on). I was rooting for her to crack the case, to get a job (or establish herself as a detective, depending on how the case panned out), to gain some new friends, to get the guy–to be happy and better off than where she was at the start of the book.
I’m not sure if this review/entry is helpful in reflecting my thoughts on the book but suffice to say I really enjoyed reading The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss. Dahlia reminds me of Veronica Mars, except less jaded, and the story is certainly much less darker tonally than that show. I enjoyed all of the character interactions and how the secondary characters help Dahlia along in her case (even though most of them seem to fall into stereotypical roles; Charice comes to mind here, despite of her randomness and contrast to Dahlia). Gamers and geek culture enthusiasts and partakers will enjoy the references and how it adds to the story. Readers who love Veronica Mars and Ernest Clive’s Ready Player One (review) looking for an interesting read will want to check this title out 🙂