A few months ago, I was asked to review a recently published novel called Click: An Online Love Story by Lisa Becker. Given the myriad of experiences I’ve had on Match.com this past year, I thought the book was a good fit for me to review. It also helps that I love (and am thus very critical) of the romantic comedy genre in movies, although I read very few books in that category.
The book is a fast, engaging read about 29-year-old Renee Greene’s foray into the world of online dating. The book is entirely comprised of a series of e-mails between Renee, her men, and her three friends.
I want to divide this blog entry into two parts, so I apologize for it being much longer than a normal entry. If you just want to read what I thought of the book, skip down below this next section. If you want a man’s perspective on why men are jerks (with some spoilers from the book), read directly below.
Becker is actually very good to men in this book–I have a feeling that women on Match and other sites hear from a LOT of creepy, shirtless, grammatically inferior men.
However, in one section of the book, Becker describes something disheartening about men that is quite true. Renee dates this really great guy who is kind and caring and attentive…until Renee sleeps with him. Then he’s done. He disappears.
Why the hell do men do that?
And by “men,” I’m including myself. I wouldn’t take it so far as to say that I sleep with women and then desert them. But I enjoy the chase, and once the chase is over (in any way, including even a first kiss), I often find myself immediately losing interest.
I wrote about this “chase theory” a couple of years ago in an entry about why guys and girls can’t be friends (it remains one of the most commented entries on this blog). It’s one of those things that baffles me, and yet I continue to do it.
If I can say one thing to women about this chase theory, it would be: Maintain some element of mystery or coyness with your boyfriend or husband. Just a little bit. If other guys are like me, then maintaining some element of the chase throughout a relationship could help significantly. Is there anything a guy can do to help that element as well?
Okay, back to the review of Click.
The structure in which Becker chose to tell the story of Click is brilliant. I love books that break the traditional molds of storytelling. Sometimes by adding constraints, an author is able to tell a much better story than if they use third-person omniscient. That is definitely the case here.
My one gripe about the format is that it creates a lot of “dead” space within the book. That is, Becker doesn’t just include the body of the e-mail–the full header is also written out for every single e-mail (the “from,” “to,” and “subject” lines). I’m not sure if there would have been a way around that, as the readers need to know all of the information in the header, but many of the e-mails are quick back-and-forths between people where most of the header info wasn’t necessary.
The other major strength of the book is the series of mini-relationships between Renee and all the men she interacts with. Becker clearly did her research during her own online dating days. The realism of Renee’s interactions with men and Renee’s overall likability made me look forward to her correspondence with or about men (sometimes there are long e-mails detailing her dates).
The same cannot be said, unfortunately, for the supporting characters. Renee has a male friend, Mark, who disappears for huge sections of the book. He seems more like an obligatory male friend than anything else–I literally don’t think the book would be any different if Mark were left out entirely, and thus he should have been left out entirely (sorry, Lisa–I’m a publisher and a former editor!).
Renee’s other two friends, Shelley and Ashley, are moreso caricatures of people than actual people. Shelley does exactly two things: (1) she talks about her many sexual partners using one-liners and nicknames, and (2) she makes fun of Ashley. Ashley is given a slightly more robust role, as she does three things: (1) she talks about her truly sad relationship, (2) she insults online dating and Renee over and over, and (3) she makes fun of Shelley. I hate to make the comparison, but it’s as if Becker just used the characters Samantha and Charlotte from Sex in the City instead of creating characters of her own.
Fortunately, despite the weak ancillary characters, the primary romances and relationships in the book make for a strong read. If you’re looking for a good beach read this summer that doesn’t involve a cynical man who can regrow his organs or a bumbling priest who is caught up inside his own head, I’d recommend Click.