Featured Review | The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss – Max Wirestone

About the Book

For fans of The Guild, New Girl, Scott Pilgrim, Big Bang Theory, Veronica Mars, or anyone who has ever geeked out about something.

The odds of Dahlia successfully navigating adulthood are 3,720 to 1. But never tell her the odds.

Meet Dahlia Moss, the reigning queen of unfortunate decision-making in the St. Louis area. Unemployed broke, and on her last bowl of ramen, she’s not living her best life. 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?).

Turns out unfortunate decisions abound, and she’s just the girl to deal with them.

320 pages (hardcover)
Published on October 20, 2015
Published by Redhook
Author’s webpage
Buy the book

This book was sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This isn’t the type of book I thought I’d read, let alone enjoy, but I ended up doing both. The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss isn’t really fantasy, per se, but it does look at fandom cliques, and it is a whole lot of hilarious. In fact, I will freely admit I spent a good chunk of this book laughing pretty hard despite the fact that our protagonist Dahlia ended up being swept away by a murder investigation.

This is one of those books that you can’t help but love, especially if you’ve ever been part of fandom, or enjoy shows like The Guild. Dahlia Moss starts out investigating the theft of a sword in a huge online roll playing game. Things eventually graduate into a murder investigation and she’s hired on by the family to organize an online memorial service, but also figure out what exactly happened. Dahlia, by the way, has absolutely no experience with that sort of thing.

She’s poor, and unemployed. She has no relationship prospects, and her roommate is also hilarious in that she gets herself into these weird situations and you can’t help but laugh at them, and her audacity, like bugging a police officer and then following them around because, hey, why not. There is a lot of spice in this book, and if it isn’t all completely believable, it is all really funny, and that dollop of humor will keep readers from closely analyzing if any of this could really take place.

However, that’s part of the magic of it. This is one of those unbelievable books that is charming due to the fact that it is unbelievable. The mystery was never really as enthralling as Dahlia, in my opinion. While I wanted to know who did it (and ended up fairly surprised with the result), I really found the characters more interesting than the plot, and their journey to get to the conclusion was more interesting than the actual conclusion. Part of that is due to the humor, but most of it can be attributed to Dahlia’s unique voice and her sarcastic look at what she finds herself involved in.

There are a lot of references here to geek pop culture items, like the online roll playing game, and some TV shows that I’ve never seen and will probably never watch. I should also note that I’ve never played an MORPG before, and never will. You’d think a lot of this humor would fly right over my head, but it didn’t, so don’t let the fact that this is a book taking a goodhearted stab at fandom, and areas of fandom you might not partake in, turn you away from it. Part of the beauty of this book is how shockingly accessible it is. I didn’t understand all of the references, but that never stopped me from enjoying the book.

Furthermore, not everything in the book circles around items like that. A lot here has to deal with family, relationships, bad job interviews (which never failed to make me laugh because really, who can’t relate on some level?), friendship, money, and a lot of other things that define our daily grind of life in some way, shape or form. Dahlia’s fantastic voice brings a lot of these daily details to light in a way that makes them stick out, and I found myself enjoying how she illuminated so many parts of life that are so mundane to me by this point I stopped paying attention to them.

The mystery is well done, and the plot is fast moving, but like I said above, I was never as enthralled in the plot as I was captivated by Dahlia and her perspective on life in general. Yes, there are a ton of geek and pop culture references here, and no, I didn’t understand a good chunk of them, but that never really stopped me from enjoying the book at all. I understand fandom in my own way, and while I wanted to know who done it, I wanted to hear more of Dahlia’s sarcastic observations even more. This book was addicting, and absolutely laugh-out-loud hilarious, which I didn’t expect. It’s a quick read that will sweep you away, and should absolutely by checked out if you’re in the mood for a hearty laugh.


4/5 stars

One Responses

  • Max was in a contest of mine and got his agent shortly after. I was so happy to get his book in my hands! It was just as funny and entertaining as I expected. Love your review of it.

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