13 March 2015

Love Byte by David Atkinson

Hey everyone,

This week I’ve been reading Love Byte by David Atkinson, a  book described as a contemporary romance that follows recently widowed Andy Hunter, who has been receiving emails from his dead wife. What would you do if your dead wife emailed, offering to find you a new girlfriend?

The book:

Andy Hunter is a single father trying to balance the demands of a 2-year-old daughter, an interfering but well-meaning mother-in-law and a job he is always in danger of losing. So, when he receives a series of delayed emails from his late wife Lindsay telling him to date, it seems like a good idea.

With Lindsays emails spurring him on, Andy weaves a path of disharmony and chaos amongst his close friends and family, but soon discovers he is not cut out for modern dating.

Filled with laugh-out-loud situations and moments of soul-searching, this heart-warming, moving romantic comedy set in Edinburgh, is a bitter-sweet tale of second chances and self-discovery.

My thoughts:

This book started out with so much promise. Although I found the first 30 pages difficult to read as it dealt primarily with Lindsay’s losing battle with cancer I understood why the author had included it. I felt the connection between Andy and his wife Lindsay, this experience was an important part of Andy’s character development as it showed he was a man in grieving not just for his wife, but also for his daughter, for his family and for the life they would have had together.

“I was grieving for the desolate aching her death had left inside me, then for Amy who would never know her mother, and finally for the world which seemed a much poorer and emptier place without my wife in it.”

Yet something happened after Andy received the first email from Lindsay. The tone of the novel appeared to change, or perhaps the problem was it didn’t change and I was expecting it too. Suddenly Andy is thrown into the world of online dating and although I imagine his ‘dates’ were supposed to amuse the reader that isn’t the emotion I experience. At times they angered me, sometimes they flummoxed me and other times I was bored. Andy is horrible towards these women he dates, insulting them, degrading them and just generally being a bit of arrogant twat.

I imagine this was meant to show his failure at dating and provide light amusement but instead it made me dislike the main character. He came across as someone who disliked women, quite happily calling them ‘sluts’; on one date he asks the woman if she had a ‘cock’. The women are all described as desperate, crazy, aggressive or sex-mad and showing that Andy has made a lucky escape. After one date that lasted about five minutes one of the woman sends this email to Andy.

“Please don’t come up to me or even look at me if you can help it. In fact, if you could maybe avoid John Lewis altogether I would much appreciate it, otherwise I’ll always be looking over my shoulder in case you should appear.

Love and Kisses

Andy’s forage into online dating takes up a good portion of the book. Combined with his day-to-day life that includes looking after his daughter Amy, working at a job where he is about to be made redundant and talking to his friend Jamie and his girlfriend Molly. By this point I was half-way through and as far as I could tell no heroine or romance plot had been introduced. The only woman he’d had a semi-successful experience with was Amanda an Events Co-ordinator who was currently on a family holiday in Ireland.

By this stage I nearly gave up due to the lack of romance and my dislike of the David Atkinson’s attempt at comedy yet I prevailed believing it couldn’t get worse.

Oh how wrong I was...

Lindsay hadn’t just sent emails to Andy from beyond the grave, she’d also sent them to Molly informing her about Jamie’s affair with a girl called Anna. This, of course caused havoc with Molly and Jamie’s relationship and shortly afterwards Molly and Andy were on a date. Just to clarify Amanda is still in the picture and has returned from Ireland. It was at this point that I started to skim read large chunks of this book mainly just to see how it ended out of morbid curiosity.

It ends with Andy and a woman (no I won’t say who just in case you do plan on reading Love Byte) declaring their love for each other, followed by a proposal and a declaration of impending fatherhood. I didn’t feel a connection between Andy and this woman, probably not helped by the fact that Lindsay is still emailing Andy.

“I wonder if I’ll miss u & my baby when I’m dead. I hope not - it’s painful enough just now without having that for eternity”

Alongside everything mentioned above, this book has huge sections of information dumping on completely random subjects. Everything from parenting, the Edinburgh climate and the nature of dyslexia was covered. I don’t mind these topics being discussed, but would prefer if they were organically worked into the story.

Overall Love Byte didn’t work for me due to my dislike of the main character, the author’s chosen style of humour and the lack of a core romantic plot. If, however, you enjoy reading books about one man’s struggle to survive the Edinburgh dating scene then this could be the book for you.

My rating:
Happy reading everyone and see you next time!