The Pisces by Melissa Broder

The Pisces

Melissa Broder

The Pisces is a story about falling in obsessive love with a merman, whose very existence pushes Lucy to question everything she thought she knew about love, lust, and meaning in the one life we have.

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“Bold, virtuosic, addictive, erotic – there is nothing like The Pisces. I have no idea how Broder does it, but I loved every dark and sublime page of it.” —Stephanie Danler, author of Sweetbitter 
 
Lucy has been writing her dissertation on Sappho for nine years when she and her boyfriend break up in a dramatic flameout. After she bottoms out in Phoenix, her sister in Los Angeles insists Lucy dog-sit for the summer. Annika's home is a gorgeous glass cube on Venice Beach, but Lucy can find little relief from her anxiety — not in the Greek chorus of women in her love addiction therapy group, not in her frequent Tinder excursions, not even in Dominic the foxhound's easy affection.
 
Everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer while sitting alone on the beach rocks one night. But when Lucy learns the truth about his identity, their relationship, and Lucy’s understanding of what love should look like, take a very unexpected turn. A masterful blend of vivid realism and giddy fantasy, pairing hilarious frankness with pulse-racing eroticism, THE PISCES is a story about falling in obsessive love with a merman: a figure of Sirenic fantasy whose very existence pushes Lucy to question everything she thought she knew about love, lust, and meaning in the one life we have.


Advance Galley Reviews

Lucy has inadvertently broken up with her long-time boyfriend. She didn’t mean to suggest a separation but that’s what happened. She never wanted him as much as when she didn’t have him. He’s now found someone else and Lucy plunges into depression. Luckily her sister has invited her to house and dog sit for her and she joins a therapy group of lovelorn women. But nothing turns around for Lucy until she meets a mysterious swimmer with a secret. OK, I confess, I made a mistake in requesting this book. I had read about it and didn’t think it was a book for me. But weeks went by and I saw a review by Kirkus Press that spiked my interest showing a different cover and I requested it. When I realized which book I had requested, I knew I had made a mistake. But I decided to go into this book with as open a mind as I could and give it every chance. Which I really did. Although this book is marketed as being hilarious, I found it to be horribly depressing. Do women really feel like this about their relationships with men? How awful to contemplate such a state. The book is also marketed as being erotic but I didn’t see it as erotic at all, only extremely sexually explicit, which are two different things. Lucy’s irresponsibility in her care of her sister’s home and ill dog was beyond belief. This was not a young, impressionable girl but a 38-year-old woman. There was nothing about Lucy that I could relate to. To any animal lovers reading this review, beware of the heartless neglect of a dog which destroyed any sympathy I may have felt for Lucy. I recently saw “The Shape of Water” and enjoyed it very much. I had hoped in reading “The Pisces” that there would be traces of that story that would lend some beauty to the book but any similarity is very superficial. Granted, I don’t believe it was the author’s intent to write a beautiful love. The book did hold my interest but in looking back at it, it just left me with a bad feeling all around and I can’t recommend it.

We dive into this book/plot with the idea of a woman having sex with a merman and being okay with this fact. It was a bit refreshing at first because it's usually the fantasy of a man having sex with a mermaid (think The Little Mermaid) but with a male merman, we get to see a different perspective to this supernatural romance. I personally enjoyed the description of the merman, after Lucy gets closer to him and he finally reveals himself. It's so raw and different and definitely unlike any romance I've read so far. Obviously, I don't read much outside my book comfort zone. I think the excessive amount of sex shows that Lucy could either be lonely or addicted and is looking for an outlet. After all, she is going through a breakup and she feels like she isn't beautiful enough or less-than because of this. She also has multiple sex partners, mostly one-night stands and as such she feels worse about herself. It was so sad to read her say things about herself after her one night stands. Then, after her relationship with Theo, she feels great and wanted but then feels like she can't have more because obviously she can't go live with him and have a domestic life with him. The sex scenes. There are multiple sex scenes, not only with men but with Theo as well. Warning, they are quite graphic and lengthy so if that makes you squeamish, I wouldn't recommend this book for you. Sure, it's a romance, but it should be prefaced that it's a steamy romance. There is also period sex. That's all I'm going to say about the sex portion of this book. Lucy is also highly interested in him and wants to know more but I found Theo to be a little monodimensional. Theo's responses to Lucy are a few sentences long and he never goes further than talking about how he has a family, how salt preserves him and his kind, and how much he dislikes land. I'm not sure if the author is trying to make him seem like most one-dimensional female supernatural characters or if she just didn't feel like making Theo into a stronger character. Either way, Theo was still likable to a point. The ending left off at a possible hint that there may be more books in this series? The ending was a little vague and I sure hope that more books are made with these recurring characters. I loved this book enough to read another similar one by this author.

THE PISCES reminds me of the Lena Dunham character in GIRLS, or perhaps it reminds me of some combination of the characters, when they get really snarky and overly analytical, to the point where little that they intuit makes any sense at all. But it doesn’t stop them from carrying forth and acting upon their misfound conclusions. Our protagonist, Lucy, hails from Phoenix, now in Venice Beach trying to get over an addictive 8-yr relationship that she ended and now wishes she hadn’t, because well, why not crave what you now can’t have? She decides quick sex with faceless men will make her feel desired, until it doesn’t. She joins a group for love addicts that is funny, irritating and oddly compelling. She meets a merman, or does she? She has wild merman sex, maybe. The writing is snarky, compelling, x-rated, juicy, titillating, riotous, funny and unique. Avoid if any of those descriptors are not your cup of tea. Not a tale you will forget, a quick read and at times, laugh out loud funny.

Sadly due to my bluefire readers spinning wheel of death I could not finish this book. I tried to download the other recommended apps but since I had already downloaded the book on to bluefire the duplication error appeared. I was very intrigued by this book in the parts I got to read. Hopefully with my next download I will have better luck and get to read and enjoy the book.

There is nothing to love in this book. The narrator is monstrous, with superficial self-awareness of this fact, obnoxiously written (none of the information about Sappho or classical Greece actually seemed to fit the character in any way, it just felt like the author trying to show off), the story is dull and predictable, and nothing about it held my interest. I pushed myself to keep reading, assuming it would be a story about character growth, and I was sorely disappointed. The story and characters are super unhealthy in a way that feels promoted, rather than being a commentary. Lucy is not quirky or relatable in her flaws, she's just a character you desperately wish could someday get the help she needs. Please, please, please: do not pick this book up.

I was excited when I learned that Melissa Broder had written a novel. I enjoyed 'So Sad Today', as much as one can "enjoy" a book about a person's struggle with anxiety. I followed that up with 'Last Sext' which was in some ways paved the way for 'The Pisces'. The Pisces is also about desire and longing and messing things up due to our own compulsions and addictions. There are parts of this book that really disturbed me and made me want to "unfriend" Lucy. I don't think I've ever known someone so self-absorbed. But there were so many parts of her being that were so familiar that I found myself joining in her despair and her attempts at redemption. It's a fascinating read from beginning to end. If you are not already a fan of Melissa Broder this book would be a good place to start.

“But my longing leaked out in other places. It was in my love for Sappho, the divine feminine. I craved that nurturing, to be swallowed up in the arms of Aphrodite herself, rocked and held. But I was afraid to ask women for it, afraid they would die on me or reject me in some other way. So I looked for it in men who could not give it.” I received a free e-ARC through First to Read from the publishers at Penguin Random House. I need to stop being pulled in by that siren tag of ‘literary fiction.’ Clearly, publishers and I have very different ideas about what that is. (“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”) Some discussion of NSFW content ahead. Struggling through a breakup and spinning her wheels on her thesis for more than a decade, Lucy takes her sister’s offer to house-sit for her in her beautiful home in Los Angeles. Her only responsibilities are caring for her sister’s dog, working on her writing, and learning how to love herself. Instead, she takes the opportunity to date a string of younger guys, one of whom may not even be human. …Did I read the right description for this book? I was expecting an empowering, love-yourself novel that felt like a mini-break in sunny L.A. with a cool, intellectual main character. I clearly had no idea what I was signing up for. It’s hard to say what the “plot” of this book is, since it’s mainly a procession of increasingly awkward hookups and Lucy wallowing in misery while doing nothing to help herself. The first page is an exultation to dog shit (literally–I couldn’t make that up), and unfortunately, it only gets worse from there. Let’s play a drinking game: every time she says “cock” or “pussy”, take a drink. Just kidding. I’d be passed out cold after one chapter. There’s an abundance of the least sexy sex scenes I’ve ever read, ranging anywhere from weird to outright cringe-worthy, with mermaid erotica being, sadly, the most normal of the encounters. I know male literary fiction is criticized for being prurient and navel-gazing, but I don’t think the answer is to try to beat them at their own game. I’d have preferred a romance novel; at least it’s straightforward about what it is. Lucy is one of those miserable main characters who makes everyone around her miserable as well, including the reader. In the first few pages, she uncharitably refers to an innocent passerby as a “butterface,” establishing her as an unapologetic asshole right from the beginning. She’s constantly judging people by how they look and only valuing people who are conventionally attractive. She breaks up with a boyfriend she doesn’t even seem to like, then spends half the novel agonizing over it, and she relies on the attention of the male species (really, any man will do) to function. Worse, she gives nothing back. She treats the people around her like objects put there for her to feel good about herself, and she never does anything that isn’t for personal gain. She’s so self-centered, she can’t even take care of a dog. She scorns the women in her “love addiction” support group for wanting to change. Lucy doesn’t want to change, so the only development in the book is her spiraling even further. There’s a weak attempt to justify her actions with the death of her mother, which was undoubtedly traumatic, but the novel makes no effort to handle it or Lucy’s love addiction. Everyone has an existential hole at the center of their beings; we learn to live with it, and it doesn’t excuse us being rotten people. It’s like watching a really bad train wreck, and I’m not one of those people who enjoy disasters. I have no sympathy for characters who bring their misery on themselves. The really bad part is that The Pisces perpetuates all these really awful stereotypes about women, particularly the unmarried and over thirty, as being desperate and love-starved. Lucy sneers at the idea that any woman can be happy if she’s single. Girl, it’s called dignity. The thing she fails to understand is that every human needs other humans, but rewarding relationships come in all shapes and forms, not just romantic relationships between men and women. The thing she wants doesn’t exist; every relationship is a give and take, and it’s not possible to live in that thrill of first attraction forever. Whether or not she wants to be alone, independence is an important adult skill that she doesn’t even try to master. The writing is mostly filled with Lucy’s inner monologue, where she alternately criticizes everyone around her or devolves into pseudo-intellectual rambling in an attempt to rationalize her horrible decisions. There’s an undercurrent of nihilism running throughout the novel, and it’s a tired angle. (I have no patience for nihilism. Even if everything means nothing, it’s best to go on as if it matters.) There’s a heavy-handed attempt to make it all mean something in the last chapter. The dog is the pure love Lucy can’t accept for herself, and the mermaid is the fantasy love she has to give up in order to survive. Yeah, yeah, I get the symbolism. It doesn’t justify everything else I’ve had to put up with in this novel, and Lucy’s “character development” comes way too late to make a difference. What’s more, I’m not convinced she’s changed at all. The Important Decision she makes at the end is made out of jealousy, not altruism. Give it a week. She’ll be right back where she was. I review regularly at brightbeautifulthings.tumblr.com.

Well, this book is something. Really...it's something. It's probably one of the strangest books I've ever read, and I don't mean that in a good way. It was darkly funny in parts. It's an interesting exploration of obsessive love and sex and attention addiction. I think there's a message about self-love in there somewhere, and we're supposed to see Lucy's rejection of Theo, in the end, to be sort of triumphant, but it just fell flat. The last 100 or so pages I ended up skimming because I found myself caring less and less what happened to the characters. Lucy was endlessly frustrating. When she started drugging the dog so that she could spend time having sex with the merman, that was the straw that broke the camel's back; there was no redemption for her then, especially after [spoiler alert] the dog died. I guess now I can at least check "read merman erotica" off my list?

I received this book from first to read and it was a little twisted as far as more details than I really needed but after those bits were skimmed through the storyline made sense. Then following Lucy’s evolution had you wanting to follow where it would take you. Defiantly different.

The premise of this book was really enticing; especially after surprisingly loving The Shape of Water earlier this year. The book is generally about a woman who moves into her sister's house after a particularly bad breakup and falls in love with a merman. Though I finished the book, I was not the biggest fan of it at all. The number of rhetorical questions and philosophical tangents in the book took away from the main story, which I still thought was compelling and thought-provoking. I even liked Lucy, the main character, despite her selfishness and self-obsession. She was largely brutally honest and relatable. I thought that despite her flaws, there would be some growth though. That growth does not come until the very last page of the book, and even then, it's debatable. I think that the author was trying to do a bit too much and in that regard, the book became a little too heavy, dark, and philosophical, and it felt like these philosophical thoughts were getting pushed down our throats. Thank you to First to Read for my free galley.

I read somewhere else that this was a love it or hate it kind of book and I definitely think I can attest to that. I couldn't connect at all with Lucy. I loved her unraveling at the beginning of the novel but as she became more and more unhealthy and self centered, it was harder to enjoy the book. I found myself loving Theo but thinking he could probably do better. I really think a lot of people will adore this book, but I'm not one of them.

I love it. I was so intrigued by the synopsis of this book before i saved an advanced copy for myself but all i can think about was that I'm not the only one who has that kind of wild fantasy. I love the greek mythology slipped in every few pages in the book, i love how Lucy is complicated and trouble, which makes it so relatable. It was dark at some part since every character in this book is either troubled or just have some dark thoughts but that's life right? Overall, i love it. I think this book is going to be a hit.

I really enjoyed the beginning of this book. Honestly! At the beginning I was like “Oh my god! I love this. I feel so connected to the main character, she’s so much like me!” And I even told several of my friends about it. Lucy’s voice was super relatable, like listening to my own internal thoughts. She’s just so brutally honest with the reader, it’s wonderful. However, I did not enjoy the last half of the book. Namely the relationships and how unhealthy everyone in this novel seemed to be. So all in all, I didn’t like reading this. I personally struggle with depression and while at times it was very interesting to read her take on it’s “shape” and different forms, at other times it became too heavy for me to read, to be reminded of my own issues. However, I was intrigued by the commentary on using other people to fill a void in yourself and how dangerous that can be. The writing style is beautiful! I just wish the story had been a bit more bearable. If you’re at all interested in something truly unique, give it a read!

Not the book for me. I'm not a fan of the writing style and the main character wasn't sympathetic to me. I couldn't get into it. I'm sure others will appreciate it more than I. Thanks for the opportunity.

The story of an discontent woman, named Lucy, trying to find her way in the world. When she breaks up with her long term boyfriend her life in Phoenix spirals. She takes a summer job watching her sister's beloved dog and goes into group therapy. She goes on dates with men but they go poorly and she keeps in contact with her ex. One night she meets a "swimmer" out by the rocks at the beach. Over the course of the summer she learns more about him and his mysterious ways and ends up falling for him. It's really an exploration about how much Lucy is willing to sacrifice for love. Overall, I absolutely loved the writing. I thought it was fun and most of Lucy's inner thoughts were extremely relatable. I thought the plot could have been a lot stronger but it was a fun read, nonetheless. I was able to get through it in one sitting, great for a vacation read. I would recommend this book to a friend.

 


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