RaveAll About RomanceSurprising, funny, sexy and original, The Roommate is on my shortlist of favorite books of 2020. It’s excellent ... The Roommate cleverly dovetails three seemingly disparate plot threads—Clara’s search for an identity; Josh’s positive experiences in a notoriously exploitive industry; and opposites/friends/roommates falling for each other ... Although I like almost everything about this story and its sex-positive, female empowerment message, it’s an idealized version of the porn industry ... This is a light hearted depiction of the porn industry, and while it works in the context of the story, I can’t think it’s accurate or realistic. I also had a hard time segueing from Josh’s hearty sexual appetite to his laser focus on Clara so quickly after they meet… but since I was highly entertained by his constant state of sexual frustration for most of the novel, I can forgive it! The Roommate is a delightful opposites-attract romance I couldn’t put down.
MixedAll About RomanceUnfortunately, while the set-up hooked me right away, the execution is disappointing. I liked it, but I wasn’t thrilled ... suffers from a few problems right from the start. Told exclusively via chapters that alternate between Erin’s and Liz’s perspectives, we never really get to know the secondary characters ... The set-up works; unfortunately, despite the atmospheric and creepy setting, the limited PoV forces readers to guess who these people really are, and why – aside from the buy-out offer – they might want to kill each other ... Ware gets the pacing right...She ramps up the tension with each new dead body (there are three in as many days), and there’s a palpable sense of dread as those remaining wonder who might be next. Unfortunately, we don’t really know any of these people, so I never formed an emotional attachment to any of them ... Ware relies on surprise character revelations and convenient plot devices to explain the murder spree. Look, I like a killer surprise (ha!), but when the author deliberately games the story so there’s no possible way readers can guess the villain, it isn’t clever. Or fair. A climatic, breathless ski chase sequence near the end nearly redeems the novel, but loose editing (the killer breaks their collarbone in a crash, gets up and keeps skiing as if nothing happened), and an abrupt, awkward ending spoils the thrill ... Aside from my complaints about the killer and the underdeveloped cast, One by One suffers from one too many plot holes, and an ending that never seems to end. Things happen in the last third that we’re told couldn’t happen earlier in the story, people disappear and no one really seems to care, the story goes on too long, and our narrators never really grew on me. Although Ware cleverly blurs the line between our traditional sense of good vs. evil, I just wasn’t invested enough in these characters enough to care overmuch ... boasts a clever set-up, but the execution failed to thrill this reader. Recommended with reservations.