Soulmates by Holly Bourne
Genre: Romance, Sci-fi??
My goal for this year was to a.) read books I’ve had for ages on my Kindle, and b.) read one author’s entire collected works. This ticked both boxes, but best of all, I got to read it with fellow Holly Bourne fangirl (and my lovely friend!), Carys! Reading the book with her made the experience so lovely, that regardless of my negative rating, I’ll always remember Soulmates. I’m dividing this review up into things I loved and didn’t love as much, so let’s go ahead and discuss Holly Bourne’s debut!
P O S I T I V E S
The science-fiction mini chapters were really interesting, and a genius way to explain why insta-love happens. It excused all the I’ve-only-just-met-you-but-I-love-you moments, and kept me reading for the hope of an explanation. It was giving me The Next Together vibes, with the similarities to the coding parts at the end of each section.
How self-aware the characters were about their insta-love. Carys was pointing out to me the irony of the girl that hates cliches being a cliche herself, and it helped me to get past all the lovey-dovey stereotypes.
Lizzie. Holly Bourne says in the back of the book that Lizzie was her favourite character, and that definitely shows. She’s the only ‘good friend’ Poppy has, and I loved how supportive she was, which was in complete contrast to Ruth.
The writing style. Even though this book is over 500 pages, it was a quick read, and that’s all down to how digestible Holly Bourne’s writing is. My favourite books are ones where I don’t have to put any effort into enjoying them, and this definitely fell under that category.
N E G A T I V E S
The romantic style. It felt exactly like a Mills & Boon novel (and I’ve had to read one for university within the last month, so I’m aware of all the tropes now and can just laugh at it). The melodrama on Poppy’s side really stopped me from liking her as a character, because she always thought that Noah was blowing hot and cold, when in reality, he only ever loved her. The slightest thing could set her off into an insecure panic bubble and rather than feeling sympathy, I was rolling my eyes.
Compared to the Spinsters, this friendship group is so toxic and kind of anti-feminist?? There’s a lot of slut shaming with Ruth that Lottie would frown upon, and the judging of Johno and Amanda would make Evie and Oliver very upset. I’ve highlighted a few things on my Kindle that were particularly grating:
– ‘I wasn’t pretty enough to attract an older guy’ and ‘I think you’re a man-whore’ VS
– ‘although any feminist might want to have a few harsh words with you for being a complete arse wipe’ and ‘imagine only being known as so-and-so’s girlfriend and not for your own merits…’
The balance between girl power and girl-on-girl competition was stressing me out. And so was the suggestion of what was deemed effeminate. Poppy drinking banana milk over coffee and says ‘You’re not comfortable enough with your masculinity to try some.’ Why is the drinking of a banana flavoured drink aligned with a certain gender?? This doesn’t just happen once, though. Noah’s picked out some vanilla scented candles, and Poppy says ‘It’s great you’re so comfortable with your sexuality that you can [have these].’ Is there something homosexual about vanilla flavoured things? It might not be an issue for most people, but this was just too problematic for me to ignore.
The ending. So, Poppy and Noah are about to have sex and then they get captured by the scientists that say they’re love will cause the end of the world. They’re taken to a holding facility and I thought we were going to get an amazing escape scene like the one in the Saoirse Ronan movie, Hanna, and instead I get the most anticlimactic acceptance of fate, ever. I feel like if less pages had been devoted to stereotypical romantic scenes and more to the end-of-the-world plot, I would have been a lot more invested in what was going on.
V E R D I C T
So, it’s not the best Holly Bourne book I’ve read, but the one thing I really enjoyed was seeing how far she’s come since 2013. There are seeds for the Spinster Club books here, but this is just proof that if you keep working at something, you’ll eventually strike gold. Without this book, I don’t think the Spinsters could exist, and for that, I’m really grateful!