Warning: If you have not read “Love is the Drug” by Alaya Dawn Johnson, do not read this review unless you don’t mind spoilers.
I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s “Love Is The Drug” by Alaya Dawn Johnson! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:
“Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-League future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a party for Washington DC’s elite leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night.
Meanwhile, the world has fallen apart: A deadly flu virus is sweeping the nation, forcing quarantines, curfews, even martial law. And Roosevelt is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus–something about her parents’ top secret scientific work–something she shouldn’t know.
The only one Bird can trust is Coffee, a quiet, outsider genius who deals drugs to their classmates and is a firm believer in conspiracy theories. And he believes in Bird. But as Bird and Coffee dig deeper into what really happened that night, Bird finds that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.”
The main plotline was good, but…it was slow. Very, very, slow. I also felt that the part involving Roosevelt stalking Emily was far too long and should’ve been dealt with sooner. Everyone else seems to stand aside and do nothing to help Emily despite him obviously not being a good person, simply because he’s a government agent.
As for the characters themselves, all of them felt flat except for Emily. Coffee comes off as more distrustful than trustworthy, and Paul, Emily’s actual boyfriend, is even worse and it’s a wonder as of why Emily didn’t bother dumping him until things got really bad between them. Emily herself spent a lot of time being confused about everything. She didn’t really even know what her own parents were up to at all in the book until later on, and I found it disappointing. Granted, they were scientists working for the government and all, but Emily genuinely didn’t know any big thing about their work. Roosevelt had no real reason to stalk her other than that, and so came off as a flat antagonist.
The worldbuilding surrounding the main plot also felt more like a background decoration than actually having any influence on the plot at all, which wasn’t helpful. Yes, there was a deadly virus sweeping the nation, but I feel like the book didn’t discuss how devastating it was enough, mainly because it was swept up in the drama of Emily being stalked and having horrible relationships with everyone in the book. The drawn-out plotline could have used some good, understandable worldbuilding to enhance it by involving said world into the plot more, but it did not do so.
Overall, I would rate this book 1.5 out of 5 stars for the disengaged worldbuilding, flat characters, and extremely slow plotline.