Rating: 3.5 stars
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I think this is the first time I’ve finished a review book and really couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. I’m going to say yes, with reservations. Indie Radio 113.9 is fun and original and I read it in one sitting. However, there were some pretty glaring problems with it that kept me from thoroughly enjoying it.
Jacob Timber works at a bar by night and studies environmental law by day. He keeps every morning and Tuesday night free so he can listen to his favorite radio DJ, Ethan Moore, on Indie Radio 113.9. He’s in love with Ethan’s voice and his choice in music, so when, on his birthday, Jacob runs into the man at the bar, it seems meant to be. The two immediately hit it off.
Flashfoward two years. The structure of this book is very different than what you’re probably used to, so it’s almost impossible to continue the synopsis at this point. There are two years of time we’re not privy to, but only join the lives of the men once again when there’s trouble in paradise. The question becomes, were these two indeed meant to be together, or will the pressures of the world keep them apart?
I find this novella to read like a fairy tale, in the sense that it starts out with a quite extensive narrative, explaining Jacob’s crush on Ethan and the means in which they meet each other and begin a relationship. It moves very quickly. Very much like a “Once upon a time, there were two men” format, while still giving it a modern twist. I say this because it helped me to understand and appreciate the form of this story. Weeks go by in a flash, years pass without explanation, and the rest seems to be told, not shown to us. Ordinarily, I would find the telling not showing aspect of a book to be a weakness, but I could appreciate it as an original storytelling technique.
Storytelling is Shauna Underscore’s strength. While I never managed to get overly invested in the characters, since things moved so quickly and never really got beyond the surface, I was engaged in the story. It was cute. It was sweet. It was a feel-good romance. And if you managed to overlook the trite, predictable elements that take the shine off of this story, I think you’ll really enjoy it.
The problem was, I couldn’t overlook those weaknesses. It’s a smorgasbord of pet peeves here. There’s insta-love. There’s a ridiculously inane conflict that could have been resolved with a 5 minute conversation but is completely avoided by both parties, even though there are 72 ways to contact a person in this day and age. The dialogue seemed overly sweet at times and, as I said earlier, the pace of the story meant there was very little character development. In other words, it was far from a literary masterpiece. As a cute story? Okay. I can get behind that.
If you know what to expect from this novella, I think you’ll be happy with it. Don’t look too closely at the technical merits of this one and just enjoy it for the fun, romantic fairy tale it is.