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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LONG-LISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE

“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

From the moment I saw the blurb, I wanted to love “The Pisces” by Melissa Broder. I loved everything about it. The disenchanted academic still trying to figure out her professional and personal life. A smart woman struggling with depression. A non-traditional, gender switch of a love story. A modern tale with mythic bones. A merman, for Pete’s sake! I wanted to love “The Pisces,” but in the end, I didn’t. I stuck with the book because I kept hoping the story would redeem itself, but it never happened. There was nothing likeable at all about Lucy, the main character. Certainly, literature and movies are full of unlikable characters, but for me, I need to be able to find some way to relate to them and their flaws. With Lucy, though I should have been able to relate in a number of ways, I just couldn’t latch on and find a way to care about her and her inability to grow and change. The author made some bold choices, but the story seemed to suffer because their audacity. Though I did enjoy Broder’s dark sense of humor, I would have enjoyed “The Pisces” more if I quit at the blurb.

This was my first time reading Melissa Border and I will say I was a little disappointed. The story line was just off for me. I could not connect with the main character of the book nor could I get through some of the scenes in the book.

I found this book to be such an odd little story, but ultimately a great commentary on the expectations of women in relationships and love, as well as the dichotomy of love and lust. I definitely don't think it is for everyone and the characters can be grating but I think that the overall message and feeling is very pure and relateable. I would try this author again. 3/5 stars.

I'll be honest... this was kind of a strange story. I typically love books that mix contemporary fiction or romance and magical realism, but this one just seemed to be trying to do too much at once. It is an interesting concept and worth checking out. Just not quite my cup of tea.

I just couldn't get through it.. Maybe in the future I'll try again, but I just couldn't deal with this main character.

I got less than a chapter into this book and just closed it. Insufferable main character.

DNF @ 15% - I don't usually give up on a book so quickly but I just have no desire to pick this one up again after forcing my way through a few chapters. I am not at all interested in where the story is going and I don't care for the main character at all. I am pretty sure that this is not a book for me so I am calling it quits for now. ARC provided by First to Read.

I really wanted to like this tale. I couldn’t get through the first few chapters. The summary offered a mystical romance, but the book didn’t deliver.

I love a book with a very unlikeable main character. After all, I don't like *most* people I meet, so why would I like *most* book protagonists? Also, I think *not liking* a character makes a reading experience much more interesting. Aren't we all sick of the perfect Mary Sues who can do no wrong? And yet, Broder takes that idea to an extreme in this book. Lucy goes beyond unlikeable to practically villainous, and while I'm all for a good twist like that, it gets...well, emotionally exhausting. Coupled with a weird plot--not a drag, just true--and some really over-the-top characterization of side characters, and this book just didn't work for me. I think it would be a good fit for someone who likes more esoteric (or even more satirical?) fiction, but I don't know that I'd recommend it otherwise.

I could only give this book 25 pages of my time. I found the main character repulsive.

This book was written for a certain type of reader... and that was not me. I would not recommend this to anyone. It needs to come with a lot of warnings for how graphic it is. I should have known from paragraph one to just put it down.

I received this book as a first to read copy from penguin books. I could not get into this book. I read the first few chapters and found the main character to depressing and unmotivated. So I tried skipping a head a few chapters and reading from there. Oddly enough, the story was in the same place. I just did not like this book.

If you think that I wouldn't read a book about a woman who fucks a merman, who the hell do you think I am?? Hello, Shape of Water was an great movie, tyvm. Books with weird premises, unlikable women, mermaids/mermen, my own star sign, there's a lot here that draws me into this book. Plus, if we're going to go wacky here, some of my favorite books have the strangest premises. (See also: Made for Love by Alissa Nutting). The Pisces is not billed as a "fantasy," though the genre could be categorized as "magical realism" if you were inclined. There's no part of the narrative where the reader or Lucy is skeptical that there's a merman in her life. The author doesn't delve into the mythology of Theo the merman, as I mentioned this is not a fantasy so it's not something readers should expect. We meet Lucy as she's spiraling from a break-up. She moves from Arizona to California for a few weeks to dog-sit at her sister's home in Venice Beach, California. Lucy generally is impulsive and selfish. She attends a group therapy meeting once a week and tries to make herself believe that she's better than the women in the group. When Lucy meets Theo she becomes obsessed with him and spending time with him, even concocting a plan to get him into her sister's home. And having lots and lots of sex. There's period sex if you're grossed out by that sort of thing. Literally nothing is off limits sexually. In their first sexual encounter he's eating her out on the rocks at the beach (before she realizes that he hasn't come out of the water yet...). There relationship tension comes from (other than the fact that she is not in a good place mentally or emotionally) her plans to return to the land-locked Arizona and he literally can't live out of the water. She has a choice to stay with him underwater, but what does that mean for her? Losing her life, but she considers it anyway. There are things about Theo's past that Lucy finds out which helps inform her decision, but my main takeaway as this relationship drama is unfolding is that a *SPOILER* happens. This incident majorly affected my rating and how I reacted to the book. Instead of a woman who is unlikable, she's someone who is beyond that label. Just ugh. WHYYYYYY So overall, my reaction to *SPOILER* clouded my judgement of what could have been a weird, contemporary Shape of Water.

At times I could not tell if this book was satirical or serious with both its plot and its characters. In the opening of the book we are introduced to Lucy, coming out of a serious breakup, nearly a decade into our PhD in literature and going to spend the summer at her sister's place in LA (who by the way made her fortune off of selling a yoga mat patent). As we navigate through Lucy's attendance of group therapy (its own cast of personalities) through her surprising new romance I found the easiest way to digest this book was to read it like a RomCom and an exaggeration of what everyone thinks of millenials. It's just there are some moments where the author, as Lucy, attempts to make clear some deep philosophical truths about life and love that then make you question, were we meant to take Lucy seriously this whole time? Overall an entertaining book, wouldn't read it too deeply. Thank you Penguin First to Read for an advance copy!

2 stars Thank you to Penguin's First to Read and Hogarth Press for the chance to read and review this ARC. Published May 1, 2018. I am usually pretty good at picking out books that satisfy me just from their synopsis. However I really missed the mark with this book. Noted, I am not a great fantasy fan, but I do read it from time to time and felt that I was ready for a good contemporary fantasy. The prime word in that sentence was "good". That is not how I found this book to be. On every page this author dropped the "F" bomb, among other choice words. The sex in this book was overly graphic and detailed, among her many, many male conquests. The story would have been more likely appreciated in a magazine like Hustler. The first half dozen chapters were boring. The meat of the story did not start until half way through the book. The only redeemable part of the book was Dominic, her sister's foxhound, who she ended up killing. For me, this book was just over the top. I would have put it down by chapter 6 if I had not been reading it for First to Read. I don't mind a few swear words or a well placed love scene if it is appropriate to the story, but, in my opinion, this novel has gone way overboard to the point of being distasteful. This is a book that should have the forewarning of "Reader beware."

Thank you First To Read for giving me the opportunity to read an advanced copy of The Pisces by Melissa Broder. However life got in the way and I didn't get a chance to read it.

I really wanted to like this book, but I had a difficult time staying interested in Lucy’s story. Normally, I like books with unlikable heroines, but not this one. I skimmed the majority of this book. The author’s writing is good, but this story just wasn’t for me. I blame my issues with this book on myself because it is completely different from most of the books that I’ve been reading, so I think my lack of investment has to do with my mood and my current reading preferences. I might check this book out again at a later time to see if my opinion changes.

Lucy, our protagonist is a mess. Her break-up from long relationship and uncompleted dissertation on Sappho throws her into rocks. When her older step sister becomes aware of Lucy's condition, she call Lucy to her beach house to look after her Diabetic dog Dominic and also puts her into a therapy group. Lucy reluctantly agrees and starts living in her sister's house. But Lucy repels her therapy group and hates everything related to it. She downloads a dating app, to get into a worse state of mind. She ignores her duty towards the dog. She goes late night walks to the sea and meets a Merman! She takes bad decisions, diving deep into hopelessness. Lucy is a character who is funny, witty and she wants to be in a committed relationship and fails to find one. She goes on making mistakes, diving deep into her own mental illness, at one point I wondered if Merman was her hallucination or was he real? She slowly likes her therapy group and sees them in a new light though that doesn't solve her issues. It was not a great read for me, even though it deals with emotions of different women and what goes inside their head. But as a woman, I strongly disagreed on that particular point. Plot and characters were ok but narration was a bit dull or too erratic for me. Too much pictorial depiction of sex made me skip pretty good number of pages. P.S Chapter 41 was especially gross and I totally skipped it. This book can be a one time read if you like mentally ill heroine with an excessive sex drive and a unimaginable satisfaction level in terms of relationships. Happy Reading!!

I did not like this book very much, definitely not for me. The main character, Lucy, is just terrible. She's not nice, actually detestable comes to mind and she had no redeeming qualities at all. The whole merman thing was too much for me. Normally I don't read erotica but that's what this is even though it wasn't listed as such--it was woman's fiction which I guess it is to a point. The story was really bizarre and I honestly had a hard time finishing it. I loved the cover though! Thanks for the ARC!!!

I really wanted to like this book. I kept waiting for some kind of revelation to occur and the heroine to start making choices that she enjoyed. I found it very frustrating that anyone would do things that they didn't want to do and then be surprised that they did not enjoy those things. Well, duh.

At first I thought this was one of those funny, quirky but somewhat insubstantial novels about a thirtysomething stuck with a life she isn’t sure she wants – something along the lines of Goodbye, Vitamin, The Portable Veblen, or All Grown Up. Then I thought it was just a crass sex comedy. (Broder is a poet. I can’t begin to imagine what her poetry would be like!) But the further I read the deeper it all seemed to become: tropes from Greek myth and the fluidity of gender roles made me think of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, another debut novel that surprised me for its profundity. Lucy, the narrator, is a thirty-eight-year-old PhD student working in her Arizona college library and trying to expound a groundbreaking theory about the gaps in Sappho’s poetry. After she breaks up with her cheating boyfriend (and breaks his nose), she agrees to spend a summer dog-sitting for her yoga entrepreneur sister in Venice Beach, California while she undertakes therapy for the twin problems of low self-esteem and love addiction. Here she meets a collection of freaks with their own issues – “a multiheaded hydra of desperation” – including a British pal who ends up in a psychiatric hospital. Lucy’s nameless angst is part depression, part being conflicted over having children, and part existential crisis (it’s interesting to keep track of the use of the words “emptiness” [appears nine times] and “nothingness” [appears 57 times!], as well as variations on “mother” and “emotion”). Now, if you know one thing about this book, it’s that there’s hot merman sex. So yes, after some Internet dating disasters Lucy meets Theo, whom she assumes is a late-night swimmer who just really likes hanging out on the rocks; eventually she realizes he’s a merman with fully working male anatomy and a dedication to pleasing a woman. But because we only know what’s happening from Lucy’s perspective, I wondered if we can even trust that Theo exists. Maybe this is actually an exercise in erotic wish fulfillment, and he represents the depths of one’s self and/or giving oneself over to what has been repressed. In finally resisting him, she’s resisting a self-willed death. At the least, the relationship with him is a means of examining possession and vulnerability and asking whether those have to equate to masculinity and femininity, respectively. Ultimately, this novel is about “the prison of the body” and choosing which of the different siren voices calling us we’ll listen to. I found it outrageous but rewarding. I’ve got one last thing to say, though: Unless you’re over 70 and talking about my cat, I really don’t want to ever see the word “pussy” again.

If you haven’t read Melissa Broder before, you may be shocked (pleasantly or not) by the blunt, crass, in-your-face honesty of her writing. If you’re familiar, you will recognize her voice in The Pisces instantly. Broder is a master at telling it like it is and throwing two middle fingers up at sugarcoating. Just as she has done with her non-fiction writing, Broder leaps into fiction with a reality that is both uncomfortable and refreshing. She refrains from polishing the harsh edges of the world, of people, and doesn’t give in to the fantastical – even in a story involving a merman. The Pisces, as it turns out, is not about a woman who meets a merman and falls in love. It is instead about a woman who is severely addicted to love and sex and has very destructive intimacy issues. Lucy loses herself in the company of men, she runs from commitment when boredom sets in, then becomes nearly suicidal without a romantic partner. She’s completely self-destructive, feels almost no guilt when her actions negatively affect others, and is constantly using love to rationalize her bad behavior. Lucy enters therapy after a bad break up, while watching her sister’s house and dog in California. Though mostly Lucy silently judges the other women in her group therapy, there are moments when she sees herself in them, and for brief periods of time, realizes she is a mess and actually in need of help. Though another man will come into the picture, or an old one will pop back up, and eventually Lucy loses control and spirals, leaving nothing but ruin in her wake. It is no different when the man is a merman. One of Broder’s biggest accomplishments with her writing is that she has this ability to make it seem as if she reached inside your head and pulled the words out. It feels so intimate that you want to turn away, give the characters their privacy, but like a car crash, you can’t help but stare. It feels as if Broder has created her characters with pieces of you. Each woman in Lucy’s group therapy, Lucy included, could be you, a version of you. There are fragments of relatability in them. The hard part is that they are not good fragments. It is the hard truths about ourselves that we see in these women, in Lucy, and just like Lucy, we subconsciously judge them for the very things we dislike about ourselves. Claire and Lucy are arguably the two most destructive and problematic characters, and I found relatable ideas and behaviors in both of them. Ironically, it was these same ideas and behaviors I disliked them for. Lucy and Claire seem to dislike each other for these things as well. Lucy spends a lot of time thinking about how messed up Claire is, but also how she feels as if she is judging herself when judging Claire, and so avoids it. She feels Claire does the same thing. By encouraging and not demonizing Lucy’s behavior, Claire is allowing herself to be just as bad if not worse. They see themselves in each other, just as we see ourselves in them. Broder uses her characters as mirrors, of each other, and of her readers, and probably, herself. Though the characters are wonderfully crafted and painfully, brilliantly, flawed, the story itself doesn’t feel complete. Lucy fluctuates between destructive behavior and determination to change. She goes from man to man trying to feel better. She slips into states of depression and euphoria. Other women in her group therapy do the exact same; each woman has a break through then a setback then a break through then a setback. Though this is very much how therapy and recovery actually is, perhaps this isn’t the best for the book. The merman is merely another man in the story, another escape for Lucy, another excuse to do unspeakably terrible things. When the book comes to a close, it seems like Lucy may have finally broken her pattern and will turn things around, but we never know. The book ends before we actually see any real progress. And in the end, her (possibly) final straw in letting go of toxic men and toxic routines is caused when Lucy doesn’t feel special enough. She finds out her relationship with the merman is one he’s had with other women before her, and she cannot handle not being special. It’s selfish and childish, and though she leaves that situation claiming to have finally realized she needs to get her life together and has a few ideas about how she can move on, none of it comes to fruition in the book. We have no reason to believe Lucy has really changed. In fact, since Lucy is the only source we have concerning the merman, there’s even the chance he never existed, and Lucy is far sicker than we know. Broder’s voice is unique and clear and unmistakable in The Pisces. She delivers the kind of uncomfortable characters and situations that reality is made up of. The Pisces feels like an extension of author and reader. However, the story falls flat, it’s very static, slightly predictable, and seems a little like the 200+ page equivalent to walking in place.

This woman's fiction novel is about Lucy, a woman who is nearing 40 and has a life that includes working on a paper of Sappho and a lover, ten years older than her. They are together but both are unhappy. So when another argument occurs, they take a break but it seems that he is ready to call it quits while Lucy becomes obsessed with getting him back to the point of harassment and then suicidal depression. At this point her sister in California tells Lucy to come and dog sit while she is away, with the condition that she attends group therapy. She still feels lost and goes to sit by the ocean when one night she meets a swimmer, Theo. She becomes obsessed with him and it seems he is with her. As they get to know each other he reveals that he is a merman. Lucy needs to have someone in her life that defines who she is, while Theo needs to have someone who will worship him to the point of death. I normally do not read woman's fiction and I wouldn't recommend this one, but the premise was interesting and it was an intense read. I found that her searching for a sense of self, that didn't come from external approval, is a journey that some people, at one time or another in their lives, seem to go through. Thank you First-to-Read for this free e-copy of "Pisces".

I DNF'ed this. Under normal circumstances, even though I wasn't enjoying this I would plow through, but life is too short. I wouldn't necessarily say this is a bad book, but I lost patience with the main character. I wouldn't say she is unlikable, but she is an asshole and not a fun one at that. I'm sure she comes to a point where she learns about her destructive behavior, but I wasn't really interested enough to find out. The frank language about sex didn't bother me at all, but if you are someone who is doesn't like that don't read this book. Also, I didn't necessarily find this funny so there was really nothing to motivate me to continue. On a positive note, it's a pretty fas There is actually a review on Goodreads by Navessa, that I suggest people read if you are on the fence about this book. She liked it, but gives a pretty balanced review.

I’ll admit it. I wanted to read this book because of the cover. I looks weird. In a graphically sexual female sort of way. This book is that and then some. Also very neurotic intellectual white girl. A bit too much so. On the other hand, there were elements of an honest portrayal of female mental health and ambiguous relationship with love and sex. But also not. Annoyingly so at times. A very different existential read.

The Pisces doesn’t sink, but it certainly doesn’t swim. Melissa Broder, author of So Sad Today and all of my favorite sardonic, self-critical tweets, joins the literary fiction category with this shipwreck of a novel. It’s wave after wave of excruciating build-up, until the inevitable lackluster crash. Though Broder’s writing is remarkable, the novel itself is not anchored to anything substantial and tends to drift. I enjoyed the self-reflection, but could have skipped this sex tsunami. Alright, I’m done, I promise. If I can’t make ocean jokes, why am I even here? SYNOPSIS Lucy, a graduate student working in a library in Arizona, is writing a dissertation on Sappho’s poetry. Her five-year relationship to safe and relatively unemotional Jamie is starting to drag. On a whim, she decides to break up with him. To her complete and total horror, he agrees. This sends poor Lucy into a tailspin. Okay, maybe I wasn’t done with the ocean jokes. Recently and despairingly single, Lucy decides to spend the summer at her estranged sister’s oceanfront home in Venice Beach, California. Here she meets a rag-tag band of females in an emotional support group, all battling their unhealthy relationship to relationships. Lucy belittles their lack of self-worth, then spends the novel only befriending women she deems worse off than herself. Anyway, Lucy discovers a really handsome half naked swimmer out by the rocks as she’s wandering one night on the beach. He says one or two interesting things about Sappho, and then they’re in love. It happens pretty rapidly and without reasonable justification, which we don’t really need anyway because we soon find out this mysterious swimmer is actually a merman. Theo has the lower half of a fish and the upper half of a sexy human man (including the human man parts, hidden under a conveniently draped loin cloth). So they of course become lovers. Lucy is desperate for validation and love, horrified by her desires and yet completely enslaved to them. She must choose between a life on land and a mysterious underwater alternative that Theo begins to pressure her to take. THE UNDERCURRENT OF LOVE The last twenty pages of Broder’s novel are what I wanted from the entire book. Eerie, dark and emotionally jarring, it took me to some desperate places. I won’t give it away, but Theo’s character is as boring as any stock character in a Lifetime movie until these fortuitous last chapters. God I wish there was more of this fiendish Siren-like darkness throughout the rest of the novel. It could have been an ocean thriller. Also, warning: If you’re not interested in super graphic depictions of rectum cleaning and female menstrual excretions, just pass on this novel. About 150 of this 270 page novel are just that. Which, to Broder’s credit, was totally top-notch writing is you’re interested in literotica. I enjoyed what Broder was attempting to do here. The reality is that our obsession with the concept of love is often an addiction that drives us to dangerous self-harm. There is very little precedent in our culture to seek solace in being alone, to find completeness within ourselves. The fairy tales and the Disney movies and the music videos tell us over and over again that we’re nothing unless someone loves us. We’re empty until we fill our holes (all of them) with love, adoration, worship. But Broder holds a mirror up to our self-diagnosis and then leaves us hanging. There are no profound answers here, only a lot of finger pointing.

So, long story short, I really didn't like this book. Here are the reasons: Leading Lady Lucy: When you first start reading she's a hot mess. Breaks up with her long term boyfriend straight out of the gate, regrets it, and spirals into a depression. Her sister lets her stay at her house to dogsit in California and I was like this will be good for her. BOY WAS I WRONG. She gets worse, I started hating her half way through the book. Her drawn out, self absorbed, completely destructive, neglectful, judgemental monologues made me eyeroll so hard I looked possessed. She becomes pretty much irredeemable by the end. Main (Mer)man Theo: I didn't mind him but he could have been much more expanded on. There was so much unexplored. Did they really have a supernatural connection by being together, if so did that make him more Siren or Merman? Did he really have abandonment issues? Ehat about the other women? Honestly, the author should have just written a book about Theo. Other characters: I truely hated everyone except the dog, and the sister. Everyone else was pretty awful with brief moments of wisdom. Her "friends" were just as bad as her, and the others in the group were really lacking. You know what an active addict doesn't need? Other active addicts not working on getting better. Positives: The dog The actual writing was pretty good

This is a difficult book to review. There's a lot to dislike about this book. The main character is whiny, self indulgent, destructive, and in general, a bad person. I believe she (mostly) has good intentions but her selfishness takes precedence over her care for others. Lucy is not an easy character to like or understand. The book is somewhat absurd. At times it can be funny, but I think the marketing copy describing this book as hilarious is misguided. There's humor in Lucy's story, but Lucy herself isn't funny. This book gets pretty dark, especially as it delves into Lucy's fear of being alone and her desire to be all consumed by love. I don't love or hate this book - there were parts I disliked, but I can't deny that this story will sit with me for a while. I couldn't pick this up and easily move on to the next book. Some of the emotions the author describes are hard to forget - and that's what makes the book worthwhile (if you can get past the weird sex scenes and her negligence with the dog).

After reading The Pisces and So Sad Today, Melissa Broder's writing to me feels like a train wreck. While I found this characteristic fascinating and riveting in So Sad Today, it didn't work for me here at all. The protagonist of The Pisces is Lucy, a 38 year old woman who behaves like and has the emotional maturity of the worst kind of immature, irresponsible 20 year old. I can read unlikeable characters and enjoy them, but Lucy is so unredeeming I just couldn't root for her or empathize with her. Additionally, I don't have a problem with explicit sex in a book, and in fact it can be quite sexy, but here it is off-putting with crude language. I have heard of people hate-reading books and have never understood that concept until now, as that is sadly what I found myself doing. In the future, I'll be sticking with Broder's essays.

2 Stars Graphic and gritty contemporary women's fiction with depressing characters. Sometimes realistic, but I never connected with MC or any of the supporting characters. The descriptions of the beach were probably my favorite part. Penguin First to Read Galley

I'm torn on Melissa Broder. I feel like I'm SUPPOSED to like her and I end up finding her writing self-indulgent and self-important. I didn't like "So Sad Today" but wanted to give this shot at fiction a try. Sadly...my opinion remains the same. Lucy is listless and floating through life. She obsesses over her ex and has a series of meaningless and humiliating sexual encounters. Then...she meets Theo. This is NOT The Shape of Water. This is not a beautiful story of two people falling in love. This is a book that opens with a detailed description of picking up dog poop. This will be called "raw" "erotic" "vulnerable" and many other 'buzz' words, but it's a story about a women with mental issues and obsessive tendencies.

I just couldn't get into the story. I didn't even make it 25 pages in before I called it. It was work to read and I don't have time for that! There's too many books out there that I want to read. My main concern was the obsessive way the main character acts towards her ex. I can't understand it and I hated it. But since I read only 24 pages, I'm probably not the best judge of the book!

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I have to say that this is the slowest book I have read in a very long time, and I read about 150 books a year. I am 50 pages into the story and I have no idea where this book is going. I just can’t read any more! The main character is whining and complaining the whole way through! Yuck! Who wants to read a whole book where that is the whole book! I picked this book because it sounded very different and interesting, but 50 pages in, and she just met the guy, and she has been complaining the whole way. I can’t read anymore.

What works so well here is the narrator's frankness about the exact nature of her carnal lusts and the way they do and don't fulfill her. In contrast to what we might expect from a character engaged in a longstanding project on Sappho's erotic verse, Lucy does not carry any pretentions about the role of sex in her own life. She is like a Tinderized, modern incarnation of the gloomy, self-defeating main character in Ottessa Moshfegh's novel "Eileen," if Eileen were to find herself middle-aged and still shoplifting, still empty, now "swiping right" for any and every man she meets. For the first half of the novel, Lucy lures herself in behavioral circles of desire and repulsion, unable to reach self-acceptance or stability. The story's trajectory abruptly changes when Lucy lures and is lured by a bigger fish and finds herself capable of greater initiative and broader perspective. The courtship provides enough time for Lucy to begin to grasp what is passing between her handsome stranger and herself. Is this the romantic connection she's sought all her life? Is this "it"? What is "it," anyway? Lucy's moves -- sometimes predictable, sometimes surprising, always motivated by a desire to reclaim herself -- allow her to tread seamlessly between the magical and ordinary realms.

Commitment and intimacy can be big, frightful concepts that cause irrational behavior. For Lucy in The Pisces by Melissa Broder, working through her issues with these concepts highlights her needs and opens an opportunity to find a more interesting relationship. Having stagnated in her thesis work on Sappho and disillusioned by Jamie, her boyfriend of over a decade, Lucy is convinced by her older half-sister Annika to leave Phoenix for L.A. to regroup and recover while house- and dog-sitting for her. By looking after a diabetic dog, going on a few Tinder dates, and attending a love-addiction therapy group, Lucy comes to learn that love can take different forms and looking after oneself is paramount to offering anyone else affection. When she meets the night swimmer Theo on the oceanfront rock she was seated on contemplating things in her life, Lucy becomes enamored with the idea of this younger man, shifting her perception of self and self-worth. After a slow start there's an interesting premise buried about halfway through the narrative, where the pacing and intrigue picked up a bit. I found Lucy to be a rather annoying character and didn't become fully invested in what was happening to and around her until the explanation of Theo's mysterious nature piqued my interest; however, even this didn't feel fully developed and came off as more of a one-off situation or a poorly drawn metaphor. Many of the characters presented in the novel, though offered solely through Lucy's perspective, are crudely drawn, perpetuating stereotypes and proffering harsh judgement based on her skewed perception of herself and outlook on life. While some of the writing seemed to be a bit too flowery or too graphic, I did enjoy how Lucy's narration and exploration of her anxieties is brutally honest and often toyed with boundaries while making use of common situations that can make people uncomfortable.  Overall, I'd give it a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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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