Three months ago, Tristram Price’s world was shattered. His parents were killed in an accident that Tris caused and, as a result, his younger sister remains horribly injured. Aside from caring for his sister, Tris has been trying to cope with grief and his exile from the community. Everyone blames him for the accident and has made it clear that Tris is no longer accepted. Worse, he’s separated from Aiden, his boyfriend. Tris wants to try and repair the damage he’s done and it’s takes all of his courage just to approach Aiden. As they tentatively begin to communicate, Tris struggles to find a new place in his community and in Aiden’s heart.
But when tragedy strikes again, Tris finds himself torn between the truth and protecting the ones he loves. With Aiden drifting further way, Tris will have to risk everything to save his relationship and his reputation.
Without Aiden is a novella that honestly didn’t feel it could decide what kind of book it wanted to be. Sometimes it was an exploration of grief, sometimes a romance, sometimes… I don’t know what. Unfortunately, it did none of these things particularly well and I found myself frustrated by the storytelling.
From the very beginning, Tris seems more interested in getting sex than actually grieving the death of his parents. And while everyone grieves differently, I never felt Tris particularly cared his parents were dead, save for all the ways it has changed his life. I’m sure that’s not what the author intended and his pain regarding his sister was more defined and realistic. So I don’t know where the disconnect happened exactly, but for me, it was definitely an uneven representation of grief and, as a result, I didn’t fully engage with Tris or his journey.
None of the characters are particularly well defined. Tris and Aiden seem relatively flat and, while we see much of their relationship in flashbacks, it never read as developed or emotionally resonate. Part of this I put down to lack of character building and part of it stems from the poor story. There’s just nothing here to sink your teeth into, at least nothing that seems to matter much. The overall plot is weak and fairly predictable, so when the big “moment” finally arrives, I just sort of shrugged. Not only was it lacking in believability, but it was conveyed in a truly emotionless way.
Unfortunately, Without Aiden didn’t work for me. The characters feel uninspired and the storyline never develops into anything particularly meaningful. Often, Tris reads as rather shallow and his character was hard for me to care about save when he’s interacting with his sister. I’d have to recommend giving this one a pass.