Review: The Pisces by Melissa Broder

April 30, 2018
The Pisces, Melissa Broder, InToriLex
Published By: Hogarth Press on May 1, 2018
Format Read: ARC Edition (272 pages)
Genre: Contemporary/ Fantasy/ Romance
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Giveaway Win
The Pisces
Lucy has been writing her dissertation about Sappho for thirteen years when she and Jamie break up. After she hits rock bottom in Phoenix, her Los Angeles-based sister insists Lucy housesit for the summer—her only tasks caring for a beloved diabetic dog and trying to learn to care for herself. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube atop Venice Beach, but Lucy can find no peace from her misery and anxiety—not in her love addiction group therapy meetings, not in frequent Tinder meetups, not in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection, not in ruminating on the ancient Greeks. Yet everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer one night while sitting alone on the beach rocks.

Whip-smart, neurotically funny, sexy, and above all, fearless, The Pisces is built on a premise both sirenic and incredibly real—what happens when you think love will save you but are afraid it might also kill you.


Content Warning: Animal Abuse, Graphic Sex 


The unlikable protagonist in this book made me want to reach in and shake her. The people who have liked this tale of Lucy finding herself on Venice beach and making increasingly selfish and self destructive choices have emphasized that it's funny. The humor didn't work for me because my tolerance for  people complaining about things most people would be happy to have is very low. I was entertained by the authors inclusion of side characters and absurd circumstances. But the merman Lucy falls had more sense and logic then she ever managed to muster through a summer of self reflection.
"Yes it certainly seemed like the human instinct to get high on someone else, an external entity who could make life more exciting and relieve you of your own self, your own life, even just for a moment."
When Lucy was not pondering on her inability to stop searching for a man's love she is engaged in casual sex. However the sex scenes were often gross and uncomfortable. Despite this I wanted to cheer for Lucy while she struggles to love herself, I understood it was incredibly hard. She does learn that her decisions and point of view is flawed but she never takes responsibility for the circumstances she finds herself in. The fantasy elements of this book only added to my impression that Lucy needs more psychological help than her group therapy sessions could offer. Lucy was a frustrating character because she was entranced by her delusions,  pitying others approach to life, as if hers was glamorous.
"If they had tasted the nausea of not knowing why we are here or who we are, or if they had not, now they were willfully and successfully ignoring it. Or maybe they were just stupid. Oh, the sweet gift of stupidity. I envied them. "

The fantasy elements included failed to make Lucy's story more interesting. I finished the book disappointed because this is not what I was expecting. While this is marketed as romance, it read much more like women's fiction. The absurdness of it may resonate with readers in a way the story missed the make for me. This was a snapshot into a woman's life who relished in the dysfunction she created. Lucy was content to exist in the fantasy of her life, the ending didn't leave me with hope she leaves her fantasises. Amika, Lucy's rich half-sister, is sympathetic and generous to Lucy. Her kindess hints that Lucy had some redeeming qualities, but I never found them in the book.

Recommended for Readers who
-can like a book without liking the protagonist
-enjoy existential pondering
-regularly enjoy women's fiction/ Chick lit


Melissa Broder is the author of four poetry collections, including LAST SEXT (Tin House, 2016), and the essay collection SO SAD TODAY (Grand Central, 2016). Her first novel, is  THE PISCES.
Broder writes the So Sad Today column for VICE, the horoscopes for Lenny Letter, and the Beauty and Death column at Elle.com.

Broder received her BA from Tufts University and her MFA from City College of New York. She lives in Los Angeles.

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