My rating: 1 of 5 stars
It’s ironic that this story is called “Connected” because in the entire time that I read this novel, it was anything but. Between the frequent and awkward time jumps, the POV switches that served no purpose and had no proper lead-ins, the union of the main leads whose chemistry seemed only explored mostly through frequent sex scenes without realistic coming to terms with grief, the sudden, emotionally distant display of certain deaths, and ultimately a deception that went throughout the novel and shot up at the end like a red flag, there were many aspects wrong with Kim Karr’s novel.
The story revolves around Dahlia London, a passionate music lover and photographer. She’s happily in a relationship with Ben but yet meets an alluring lover at first sight in River Wilde, a lead singer for the band The Wilde Ones. She strikes an alarming chemistry with River at a club, but struck with grief at her betrayal of her present lover, she leaves the club despite the promise she makes to stay for River. Then in some measure of time, tragedy strikes, and Dahlia is left alone. Then comes a rather meandering, emotionally distant portrayal of grief on Dahlia’s part until she reunites with River years later. His band’s famous and the two rekindle a relationship that’s rocky between Dahlia’s grief over letting her former lover go, and other measures. I could recount more measures there, but the story overall toggles between overt sensual scenes and coming to terms with the couple.
“Connected” felt so manufactured for drama that it never found a place with me as I read it. I did genuinely try to follow it, but the prose is choppy and underdeveloped, the frequent time jumps threw me out of the story several times, and I just couldn’t see or feel the connection between Dahlia and her grief, and Dahlia and her relationship with River. I think there was much potential here for this to be a resonant novel, because the story ideas in themselves aren’t terrible, but the execution is all over the place and extremely messy. I sincerely think the first four chapters (including the prologue) could’ve been cut down immensely and summarized. The real story begins not until Chapter 5, and even then, there are still awkward time jumps to be had through the narrative after that point.
There are quite a few character deaths in this novel, but it’s hard to palpate them and really connect to Dahlia’s grief over them. The narrative attempts to explore River and Dahlia’s connections but at the same time becomes a hotbed for drama that feels manufactured and uneven. There’s even a POV shift to River’s narrative that’s disjointed and doesn’t really make sense at the time it switches, because most of the time, we’ve been following Dhalia’s head and then all of a sudden, it switches. I wish I could say I found more insight from River’s narrative and contributions, but I didn’t, it was just a measure to expound on the sex and also drama when an event happens to Dahlia.
And don’t get me started on the ending. You think it might be a happy one, but there’s a red flag of a series of revelations that promise to milk so much drama in an insinuated novel follow-up that didn’t make a lick of sense to me. It was horrible. It was bad enough that character was thought to be dead and he suddenly decides to show up and say “I’m going to insert myself back into Dahlia’s life” and then the whole jealous reflection at the end.
In sum, this is not a novel, in the notation of NA or otherwise, I would recommend. Between the messy execution and milking of emotions in this novel, I couldn’t follow it and I think it’s best I drop this series here.
Overall score: 0.5/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Penguin.