“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. Maybe once that person became too real, too familiar, they could no longer get you high – no longer be a drug – and that was why you grew tired of them.”
This book was so bizarre. For some reason, I have been drawn to the cover and the concept of it since it came out and when I heard that Whitney from WittyNovels on Youtube liked it, I decided to give it a try.
I actually really enjoyed a lot of what I read here (in a disturbing, introspective kind of way). The writing is fantastic, the story and the characters very unapologetic. And it is truly out there. I wanted to give it 4 stars for most of the book, but somewhere near the ending, I settled on 3.5 stars, overall.
Honestly, I’ve read some pretty weird and fucked up books before. And a lot of the time, they are some of the best books I’ve ever read (lookin’ at you, Chuck), so the “strangeness” of this book didn’t really phase me. I was prepared for some weirdness and maybe some nonsensical suspension of disbelief. I mean come on, the premise was about a lady wanting to bang a merman.
And bang they did 😅. But the strange thing is, that the merman parts weren’t even the weirdest to me. Was that intentional? Maybe. Maybe that was the whole point and I’m not grasping the concept, which has happened before. I go off on some tangent about the book and realize later that I completely misunderstood the whole damn point. But I digress.
The parts of the book that actually struck me as more bizarre and shocked me way more than the merman sex, were all the “normal” parts. This main character we have here, Lucy – she is truly awfulllll. She is selfish and pessimistic and narcissistic and forgetful and cruel and self-pitying and lazy and judgmental and delusional. Just to name a few. And the worst part is? She is also totally authentic and even, dare I say, relatable. Some of the inner monologues Lucy had and her opinions on things hit a little too close to home for me! I think the author did such a good job capturing the extreme thoughts and feelings that someone in this situation might have. The thoughts that people might think, but rarely act on. She had Lucy commit to them 100%, held nothing back. It was raw and disturbing and very uncomfortable sometimes, but it felt real. Which is funny when discussing a book with merman cock.
This actually reminded me quite a bit of a Chuck Palahniuk book. It was just a strange enough concept and had such a similar existential tone to his books, that it felt very in the same vein as his work. Much like his novels, the author here used the fantastical and the unconventional to comment on reality. She dipped into the surreal in an attempt to explore and highlight what could happen in real life. If one went just a little too far or abandoned all inhibitions. She used the idea of the merman and love and attachment and desire to take a look at what a woman in that position might do, to comment on the destruction of giving yourself over to addiction and another being like that. To crave it, need it. How does it relate to Tinder today and to feminist support groups and polygamy and women killing themselves over failed relationships?? I think she did a great job relating those ideas to a sheer fantasy. Most of the book is very dark in tone and can be quite depressing (with splashes of sarcasm and humor), when exploring these ideas, but I do think it ends on a slightly hopeful note.
In terms of the actual erotica in the novel, it is VERY graphic, so know that going in. Some of the scenes are pretty sexy, but for the most part, they are more focused on how Lucy reacts to the men she is engaging with and how it makes her feel. I really enjoyed the author’s decision to make the sex in this book extremely realistic. Lucy thinks about getting a yeast infection and admits that she is prone to them, and gets a UTI at one point. She can’t orgasm easily, because she is too in her head, and needs additional stimulation. To name a few examples. This was actually so refreshing to read about! Sure it can be uncomfortable and not super hot, but it was really great to see these kinds of things written in a book all about sex and desire, because they are a big part of that for a lot of women. I know Lucy is supposed to be the most unlikable character ever, but I still appreciated the author’s choice to make the sex in this book hyer realistic (other than the tail, of course).
The book did wane for me a little bit, around the 200 page mark. I thought once Lucy found the merman and started gettin’ weird with him the book was pick up and get a little lighter/focus more on just their physical relationship, but that is not the kind of book this is. It is much deeper than that, much more serious and self reflective. I still enjoyed the last 70 pages of course, but they did lose my interest a little bit, as they felt pretty repetitive. I also was very turned off by the amount of neglect and abuse Lucy was inflicting on her sister’s dog. I know that it was written intentionally to show how far Lucy would go, but it was very hard to read and I did not like that part of the book (note that there is no physical abuse of the dog, but there are serious amounts of neglect and the harmful use of sleeping pills to keep him quiet). I liked the very end of the book, where Lucy sort of has her realization, and the discussion about need and power in relationships. It was a solid ending. That middle part there was the only reason it is a 3.5 star and not a 4 star book for me.
I read this from my library and I do plan on buying a copy, because I did really enjoy it. I connected to it in a lot of ways and I thought it was very well written. The author’s social commentary and exploration into this aspect of the human psyche was handled in a clever, modern, and delightfully shocking manner. I would definitely read whatever she comes up with next.
What did you guys think of this controversial and polarizing novel??
Title: The Pisces
Author: Melissa Broder
Genre: Fiction Literature| Magical Realism | Fantasy | Erotica | Dark Humor | Satire | Romance
Publication Date: May 1st, 2018
Page Count: 270 pages
Buy It: Wordery | Book Depository