Patty: Alright. The Air That He Breathes is the story of a man who lost his wife and young son in a car accident and a woman who is now a single mom because she lost her husband in a car accident. They meet when she moves back to her hometown, accidentally runs over his dog (who didn’t die, relax) and discovers he is her new next door neighbor. GUESS WHAT HAPPENS? NO, GUESS!
Katie: First impression: it’s a frakking Nicholas Sparks novel.
Second impression: They just referred to Fifty Shades as good. I may have thrown up in my mouth a little.
Katie: I found it extremely whitewashed and formulaic.
Patty: Anyway, stuff happens and there are other cookie-cutter archetype characters and drama and angst and whatever. Also, apparently the five stages of grief are Anger, Blame, Voluntary Delusion, Sex and Contrivance.
Katie: It’s well-crafted, and by that I mean very few glaring editorial problems. I think Patty and I also agree that the anger displayed by the male protagonist in his grief is visceral and realistic. While not pleasant, I completely got where he was emotionally and could relate. Then he and his new neighbor/love interest (whom had also recently lost her spouse) started having sex, both pretending the other was the deceased spouse. Yeah, that isn’t creepy at all and is DESTINED to end well.
Patty: That whole voluntary delusion thing was so twisted and wrong (and morbidly fascinating – like watching a car wreck in slow motion). Granted, they both acknowledged that fact to themselves and each other and I’m very glad the author didn’t try to turn it into some bullshit “Healing through Inappropriate and Crazy” trope, but it was messed. up.
The guy’s anger, his despair, that was a thing of beauty. He was poisoned by his own survival and man, I dug that.
Katie: I could go on and on. It’s obviously written on a formula that someone has determined will bring in optimum financial rewards. I just prefer it when you can tell an author is passionate about their project – even if it’s shite.
While not necessarily a bad thing, I was shocked to find out the author was African-American when there is not a single non-white character in the entire book. That just seems… wrong. Or, at the very least, odd.
Patty: Yeah but then you’re implying that only white people can write bland, white characters or that an author’s ethnicity has to somehow be reflected in their writing. This brand of romance sells so well precisely because it’s generic and easily digestible by the masses. It’s purpose is to entertain, not mean something. It’s the literary equivalent of Nickelback.
Katie: Grrr. You’re right, of course. I guess that’s something I’ve gotten used to, both in print and on screen. The token person of color, or the LGBTQA community, or the disabled. It’s hugely ironic that I’m bitching that there aren’t any tokens after complaining that it was too formulaic. Or something.
Patty: I’ve read worse. Problem is, I’ve also read the same before.
Katie: since we started with a video, let’s end with one, too.