Review: Pop Life by Ryan Loveless

2nd Edition 

Andrew writes the songs everyone sings along with on the radio—tunes full of love, longing, and heartbreak. He has a knack for tapping into emotions, but when it comes to his own, the feelings aren’t so easy to manage. Sent to New York City to work on Irish singer Paeder Brogan’s first solo album, Andrew is caught in the middle of a boy band’s infighting and secret love affairs while battling the memories of his last trip to the Big Apple, which ended when English pop star Jamie Webster drunkenly kissed him. 

Andrew’s heart leaps when he discovers he’s staying at the same hotel as Jamie, yet he doubts Jamie recalls him, even though Andrew wrote his biggest hit. Jamie remembers him, though, and he seems to think Andrew is the only person who can save him from his downward spiral. Even as his feelings for Jamie swell, Andrew faces the real threat that the maelstrom he’s walked into will pull him down alongside Jamie. 

First Edition published by Silver Publishing, 2011.

Welp! This could've gone better.

Some of what went wrong can be explained by "it's me not you", some of it clumsy writing style and the rest is piss poor editing. I made a whole bunch of notes so let's just start from the beginning, shall we?

The writing style is hard to follow. It doesn't flow well and reads amateurish. It could easily be two stories combined into one which felt a bit like throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks. Initially, I thought it an effort to give insight into Drew, who tells this story, but as the book progressed it became clear it wasn't.

The formatting left a lot to be desired. I'm the sort of reader that needs demarcation. If you're going to insert a memory or flashback I need for that to be differentiated somehow. If the MC is going to have an internal monologue I need for that to be italicized. There are random excerpts from interviews/books interspersed throughout the book that more often than not didn't make sense. Lastly, weird analogies.

I can overlook A LOT if the characters are solid. And this is where it comes down to it's me not you. I don't like any of these characters. Wait, that's inaccurate. I don't understand them or what motivates them and didn't connect with them. There is part of me that pitied both Drew and Jaime, but mostly I was just confused by them. And I didn't buy into them as a couple.

Drew's characterization seemed slapdash. One minute he's "nebbish" and the next he's issuing orders to Paeder, king dick among dicks? He comes across as a teen girl with a crush and I mean that in every way. He's so immature I half expected him to have posters of Jaime up in his room. And he's nearly 30. Drew's insecurity, tantrum throwing and incessant pouting grated, but his propensity to overdramatize events that are innocuous then conversely gloss over things that would give most pause had me scratching my head.

Case in point, I got the impression that Jaime is schizophrenic or at least psychotic, but it's never addressed. Never. Drew seems to think it's cute or a quirk. That doesn't make any sense to me. Additionally, Jaime is a rockstar with all the typical trappings of a rockstar-addiction problems, commitment issues and narcissistic insecurities and Drew at point (paraphrasing) says those things never bothered him. HUH-WHAAATTTTT?!?! *sputters* 

He laid one on Drew two years prior at the Grammy's then promptly passed out and had to be rushed to the hospital. 

And that's when Drew knew he was the one.

He smelled different than I remembered. No alcohol or sweat now. Cigarettes and... it took a second for me to place it. He smelled clean, naturally clean, not like soap.

He's been pining for him since when an offer to work on a solo project of boy band Icon's lead singer Paeder puts Drew in Jaime's path again by design. Icon is coming apart at the seams and quite a bit of the book is devoted to their shenanigans. There is a polyamorous relationship that involves a couple of band members and an murky and lecherous photographer named Peter who seems to have his fingers in everyone's pie. 

They spend 4 days in NYC, mostly apart with Drew angsting over Jaime and how to make them happen. My first hurdle with Drew is obviously understanding him and why he's so enamored with Jaime after one drunken kiss two years prior. The second is Jaime evidently can't sleep alone because he has nightmares so he shows up at Drew's door or sends his assistant to fetch him in the middle of the night. As the one being fetched by what essentially amounts to a stranger wouldn't you at least ask about the origins of nightmares? In an effort to get to know that person beyond just surface and assumptions? My third hurdle is Drew somehow believing himself to be at fault after Jaime has an orgy with Peter and a couple of groupies. The fourth came later after they've parted ways and are talking on the phone on a fairly regular basis. All of the phone calls basically consist of...

When what I was looking for was relationship development. And the pièce de résistance was one of my least favorite things ever-minimizing the importance of prior relationships. 

Their relationship makes no sense to me and I don't see or feel what either of them sees in the other. I don't see how they're going to make what's sure to be a long distance relationship work. I'm guessing they're going to be polyamorous but I can't see Drew's psyche withstanding Jaime fucking all the groupies. The incident towards the end in the grocery store was melodramatic and seemed contrived to crowbar in the sex. 

The resolution...Once upon a time I got caught up in the Christmas spirit and bought into the myth that telling a Christmas story to a child on Christmas Eve would
actually send them into nite nite. So I read my cousin one, she closed her eyes, seemed to be sleeping soundly, I finished the story, tiptoed out to announce... be followed by my cousin about 2 minutes later. 

The moral of this story?

You can believe in magic until the cows come home, but don't bet the farm on it.

It didn't work for me, but I have a feeling a lot of people will love this story to pieces. Sorry it didn't for me.

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads & Dreamspinner Press.

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