Taylor Lavati's A Reliant Love is a novel about young adults, presumably targeted at young adults. Her writing is tight and pacy; she is fully in control of the style she has chosen; and her overall approach is ideally suited to the characters, the action and the plot. She understands how young people think and behave. Her short, snappy sentences and YA vocabulary give the whole an authentic feel. The characters are well drawn and considerable skill is expended in reproducing their thought processes and behaviours. The author, too, uses an interesting and effective technique to acquaint us with the two main protagonists, each chapter in turn reflecting the perspective of one or the other, allowing us to see how outer actions as perceived by one character do not reflect at all the inner working of that character's mind.
I cannot, therefore, fault Lavati's writing, but her characters in the main, even those who are presented as attractive, come cross as amoral, drink and drug addicted, and absorbed by sex. This is probably par for the course in the milieu in which the story is set but it is not calculated to inspire empathy. Nathalie is naïve and somewhat empty headed but Sam is more complex. Why he chooses to live his life in conditions that are appalling with friends who are feckless and obnoxious, especially when he is clearly aware off this, indicates how convoluted and confused his psyche is.
I have no doubt that `cool' YAs will love this book but, while I appreciate the writer's skill in bring this little world to life, I found Nathalie's vacuous naïveté somewhat irritating, and Sam's constant self-flagellation and self-imposed embargo on anything that might lead to happiness, ultimately tiresome. I sense that, since none of the characters are particularly appealing, the author has willed this to drive home her underlying message that if you do drugs, drink yourself silly and engage in casual sex, you can say goodbye to normal life, normal relationships, normal love.
This story, or perhaps the conduct of the characters in the story, may not be to everyone's taste but I have to award the book four stars for the effectiveness of the writing and the quality of the story-telling.
His Amazon Reviewer Page