“The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss” by Max Wirestone (2015)
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Humor
Page Length: 320 pages (hardcover edition)
Meet Dahlia Moss, the reigning queen of unfortunate decision-making in the St. Louis area. She is unemployed, broke, and on her last bowl of ramen. But that’s all about to change.
Before Dahlia can make her life any messier on her own she’s offered a job. A job that she’s woefully under-qualified for. A job that will lead her to a murder, an MMORPG, and possibly a fella (or two?). (description from Goodreads)
I was very eager to read The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss since hearing about it’s release last year. It had an eye-catching cover, an interesting synopsis, and a female protagonist that seemed relatable to me because of her nerdiness. From the novel’s very first page, the story seemed a bit bland to me. I felt that Dahlia was whiny, irritable, and I got annoyed that she wouldn’t get off of her lazy butt and get a job. I didn’t really feel a connection with her nor did I feel sympathy towards her whole situation until later on in the novel.
The novel is written in first-person perspective and for a good ten chapters or so it’s really hard to follow Dahlia’s narration because she’s all over the place. She has a tendency to babble about a lot of things in a few sentences and sometimes it’s a bit too much to handle. Dahlia is also an avid gamer, and all of the gamer language used at first part of the novel can throw off readers who might not be video gamers. Even though I know some basic video game language, I was bit confused by some of the stuff she referenced to in the novel and at times I felt a bit clueless.
The blurb for this novel compares it to shows such as the The Guild and Veronica Mars. The thriller component of the novel is definitely similar to Veronica Mars (one of my favorite shows) in the sense that it’s a suspenseful murder mystery with a bit of humor thrown in the mix. Dahlia is sarcastic and witty like Veronica and she’s able to use her gamer skills in order to sleuth around for clues. It’s similar to The Guild (another show I enjoy) in the way it provides an in-depth and humorous view of MMORPG games (ex.World of Warcraft) and the faces behind these virtual characters. I would go on more about these things, but I don’t want to give too much of the plot away.
The middle to the latter part of the novel was more exciting than it’s initial beginning and I actually became fully invested in reading and wanting to find out whodunnit! I also began to sympathize with Dahlia’s plight of not being able to find a job. I and probably many others have probably been in a similar situation like this. It’s easy to fall down a pit of depression, become unmotivated, and ultimately feel lost. But in the end, Dahlia finds her sense of purpose through solving this mystery and manages to bounce back.
Overall, I felt that The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss was just an “okay” book. I would have liked to have seen it written with multiple perspectives or a slightly different narration style. It was a fun book, but in the end, it just wasn’t for me.