Jane and Ben are hoping to get a place to live together. Jane’s still living with her parents, who don’t have the best relationship. They looked at a house they think would suit – their future housemates are their age, the roof leaks, their room would be tiny – but anything is better than at home. The owners want a down payment that is more than they can afford, but Jane is getting desperate. Their friend Natalie is coming back from Japan – she’s a model and she spent a few years abroad. When Natalie reveals a secret to Jane during a drunken night, is it an opportunity to reconnect with her old friend, or is it a chance for Jane to get everything she thinks she wants?

I’m on the fence about this one. I can definitely see where it was going. It’s an obvious allegory for the disconnected and impersonal relationships we can have now in the age of social media and conversations in text. I just wish it wouldn’t have done it in such a cliche fashion: younger adults as the main characters, two of them in a rocky relationship, the other successful and eliciting lots of jealousy. You definitely know where the story is going a quarter of the way through the book.

The art was… serviceable. It wasn’t to my taste, but again, I can see why the style reflected the story and the themes. It’s flat, only three colors are used, and lots of negative space around them portrays the emptiness in the characters. The tone is impersonal, creepy. Even though you know how it ends, it still packs an emotional punch at the last page.

Fellow readers, did you like or dislike this one? I am, unfortunately, very firmly in the middle!

– Kathleen

Gooch, Chris. Bottled. 2017.