I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
In Sloane Crosley’s novel Cult Classic, Lola is going about her life as normal, when she runs into her ex-boyfriend. Not ideal, but she survives it. But then, another ex appears—and another, and another. Lola realizes that this cannot be a coincidence, and soon discovers that she is, in fact, the test subject for a strange new start-up that feels a lot more like a cult, which has a vested interest in her romantic life.
So I thought this book sounded fun and weird, and I was mostly right! It was weird! I’m still undecided on the fun part.
Crosley has a very conversational but still intelligent-sounding narrative voice. It’s rather distinctive and unusual, but I quite enjoyed it overall. A lot of this is due to the story being so deep into Lola’s point of view, and it works. We really get a good sense of her internal conflict, as well as her desires and goals and reasoning behind things.
I also liked the themes presented about romantic love and the effects it can have on people—both positive and negative. Seeing the glimpses into Lola’s past relationships, and how different aspects of her personality were brought forth from them, was intriguing. Even the parts of herself she exaggerated or fabricated were interesting. People aren’t always truthful, to themselves or others, and the way that affects things like romantic relationships is explored well here.
On the other hand, I didn’t quite understand why Lola was being forced to re-encounter her failed loves. The company who tests their work on her didn’t make their goal entirely clear to me. I finished the book still wondering how exactly this all worked. Everything felt way too abstruse, and not in a deliberately mysterious way; instead, I kind of felt like I must have missed something.
Additionally, I really did not feel invested in Lola’s current romantic relationship. Too much time was spent lightly criticizing him for me to feel that her affection—especially the declaration of love at the end—was genuine. Or, if genuine, it didn’t feel sustainable. It probably didn’t help that Lola referred to him by the nickname “Boots” for nearly the entire book, which I found at best odd and at worst vaguely annoying.
In the end, Cult Classic was just… okay. The protagonist was decently interesting, if not overwhelmingly likable, and the other characters were mostly sort of there. The writing style was cool, and the concept intriguing, but I just felt like this book and I never really clicked. I walked away a little bemused, but mostly indifferent. I’m sure people who like weird, hard to categorize, sort-of-sci-fi will enjoy this, but it wasn’t really for me.
Cult Classic will be published on June 7th, 2022!