Made for Love by Alissa Nutting
Ecco, 2017; 320 pp
Reviewed by Bobby Fischer
Alissa Nutting’s Made for Love lands pretty hard on a metaphor that cuts two ways: our protagonist leaves her tech mogul husband and lives in fear of him using that technology to find her and either kill her or force her to move back in with him. It looks at an abusive relationship and explores it via society’s relationship to technology; it looks at society’s relationship to technology and explores it via an abusive relationship. This stuff is a power enough metaphor when it cuts just the one way, but the suffocating nature of the villain Byron makes it realistically terrifying and compelling.
If only the book stuck with this premise instead of veering wildly off course to explore a conman who erotically fantasizes about dolphins and a sickly father who wants to spend his final days in threesomes with sex dolls. Both of these relate to and comment on objectification and deviant sexual behavior, but neither can successfully connect thematically to the central metaphor is a meaningful way. Add an eleventh hour deus ex machina to render literally everything that came before it basically meaningless (except for its function as a metaphor) and the reader lands on something that is occasionally very funny and with a density that betrays the breeziness of the prose but ultimately kind of feels like the unedited first draft of someone with talent to burn.