Review: Made for Love by Alissa Nutting

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Amazon, Bookshop

Synopsis:

Hazel has just moved into a trailer park of senior citizens, with her father and Diane–his sex doll companion. Life with Hazel’s father is strained at best, but it’s got to be better than her marriage to dominating tech billionaire, Byron Gogol. For over a decade, Hazel has been quarantining in Byron’s family compound, her every movement and vital sign tracked. So when Byron demands to wirelessly connect the two of them via brain chips, turning Hazel into a human guinea pig, she makes a run for it. Will Hazel be able to free herself from Byron’s virtual clutches before he finds her?

Review:

I have owned Alissa Nutting’s novel Made for Love since it came out. After reading Tampa and reading the synopsis to this book, I knew that this was going to be something I needed to read immediately. So it sat on the shelf for four years. The first season of the show on HBO came out, and the novel sat on the shelf for another year, long enough for the second season to start. I honestly do not know why I waited so long to read a book I was so excited to start when it came out, but this seems to be something I do often. I have a shelf filled with preorder books I have not read.

The plot of the story is bonkers, and I had forgotten most everything about it except for a guy in love with a dolphin. I had not started the TV series so I really did not know what I was getting into. The book starts with Hazel leaving her husband and showing up on her father’s doorstep, a father who has just received his sex doll, Diane, in the mail. Hazel has to balance her disgust with her father having a sex doll and asking him if she can move in indefinitely, the type of tight rope walk she has to make several times throughout the novel. On the eight page, when she says, “You sold the station wagon to buy a sex doll?” I knew that I was going to love this book. Throughout the rest of the book, everything goes wrong. Most of the situations are hilarious and ridiculous. Unlike the serious tone of Tampa, the humor is not nearly as dark, and the story is a little easier to enjoy.

Made for Love is not a perfect book, but it is definitely one that I recommend. Nutting is an author that has written stories that are not always easy to digest, but they are good. The characters in Made for Love might be severely flawed, but they are a reflection of the situations that they have been drawn into. Hazel is doing her best to rid herself of a husband while being paranoid that he is going to kill her at any moment. Even though there are absurd reasons why she feels that way, the sentiment is real. There are many women who have left abusive relationships who feel like there is no way to escape their exes without being killed. The seriousness of Hazel’s situation is covered by follies, sex dolls, drunken escapades, and tech implants, and sometimes instead of feeling sorry for her and yearning for her safety, we enjoy seeing her as a sitting duck, waiting for her husband to finally catch her, because we wonder what is going to happen next. Hazel could be a character we sympathize with, but we really don’t. We don’t like her husband at all, but the danger that he represents is downplayed by the more bizarre aspects of the plot. In the end, this barrier is what keeps Made for Love from being from great to classic. This does not mean that I will not be buying Alissa Nutting’s next book as soon as it comes out. Hopefully it does not sit on the shelf for five years this time.  

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