My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I found Slide pretty absorbing and interesting but ultimately it left me empty. I wanted to like it more than I actually did. I think the basics of the story were good and the author succeeded on several levels, however I think ultimately the plot was too complicated to really execute correctly. Clearly this is meant as the first book to a series and I liked the characters enough to continue with the books I think but I can’t help wishing this first book lived up to its inherent promise. It’s still a worthwhile read in my opinion but it’s not the stunning great read it could have been. That failed expectation was the last impression of the book and thus my disappointment weighs heavily and prominently on my mind when evaluating it. It’s a book I’d recommend, but with some qualifications.
The book is essentially about the relationship between Ash, a former homeless addict that has cleaned up his life with the help of his lesbian best friend and became a tattoo artist. He moves in with a roommate Pete, a big-hearted paramedic, and the two eventually fall in love. Their relationship is not easy as communication is a word neither man has heard of nor has any interest in and Ash’s mental status is often dubious at best. The story is told from both Ash and Pete’s POVs mainly to depict Ash’s mental deterioration and how someone who is madly in love with him, and even a trained medical professional, can miss important signs.
This is definitely an angst filled story and I thought the author did a good job connecting with that emotion but never overwhelming the reader. Ash’s childhood was clearly traumatic, to say the least, and his shaky mental status offers no real relief. His relationship to Pete is an obvious grounding force and I liked the two men together. They seemed genuinely in love and happy to be together. However I couldn’t help but think they were also two very typical men in their early twenties. They rarely talked, at all or about anything. They mostly let everything slide, which I thought was the motivation for the title. They literally would realize something is bothering the other person or was a sore spot and they simply “let it go.” For almost the entire book their relationship seems based on the ease with which they live together and great sex whenever they happen to have it. Considering Pete’s paramedic job had him working constantly and seemingly always changing hours, the two men weren’t together all that much. When they did have a rare night off they usually played video games or hung out, which is fine but it was pretty rare and definitely did not involve communicating to further their relationship.
Not that all relationships need extensive communication but considering the near constant problems Ash dealt with, it was clear to see why Pete never really understood Ash and missed all the signals of Ash’s mental decline. That said I thought the depiction of Ash’s deteriorating mental health was really well done. It was honest and somewhat heartbreaking that everyone around him was so careful that they ignored all his clear cries for help. It shows an honest portrayal that is not always comfortable but genuine nonetheless. The chaotic and often shifting patterns of Ash’s speech and mental musings definitely made sense and worked to show the disconnect he had with people and various aspects of life itself. I think the story did an exceptional job in this area and absolutely did not need the overly convenient plot devices about the abuser/baseball bat guy and the sister.
Likewise I loathed the epilogue. (view spoiler)
Overall I quite liked the story and the narrator did a decent job. He acted out the story to my amusement. The narrator would read the line then do it if it was an action he could. For example every time someone would sigh, the narrator would read the line “Ash took a deep breath.” Then the narrator would breathe deep. It made me laugh because it was just so … jarring for lack of a better word. But that’s a minor point to be sure. I liked the secondary characters even they never really made much sense – Joe is a total mystery and I’ve no clue why he was included in the story in the awkward way he was – and the characterization wasn’t always consistent. However I found these to be minor issues for me and didn’t bother me much. Mostly the lack of communication and horrible ending were my biggest issues but I’d still recommend this one. The audiobook version is pretty absorbing too.