Just a caveat that I don’t know if I can be completely unbiased when it comes to Olivia Dade’s books anymore because I’ve grown to genuinely like her as a person. I *think* I can separate the author from the art, but who really knows? However, Spoiler Alert really impacted me from start to finish and I loved it so much, and honestly it took me by surprise!
The concept is a great one, but one I wasn’t sure would appeal to me specifically. April writes fan fic and is one of the top fic writers about Gods of the Gates – a Game of Thrones-esque show, which tbh I don’t really care about. The GotG show is described as a mythology based show, which sounded cool, but again, not my thing? If you’re concerned about that I can tell you that it didn’t bother me in the slightest, I was able to get completely invested in the plot, the characters, and this whole world without any hesitation.
What I was so struck by with Spoiler Alert is that I related to both Marcus and April and *both* of their backgrounds. April is a fat woman who has intense issues with her family that is related to her body and appearance. There is a scene with her father that made me viscerally take a step back from the book because it felt so real to me. But then we also have Marcus and his relationship with his parents – who’ve always made him feel less than, and in completely different ways than April. They’ve both emotionally distanced themselves from their origin families for protection sake in such a powerful and relatable way that I was left kind of staring into the distance.
While April has been left with issues around her appearance, Marcus can’t ever see himself as smart or educated, and they’re both fairly convinced that is how the world sees them. These things inform how they approach their lives and their relationship and it felt so…realistic to me. Even in a book where the female MC is secretly dating a celebrity and had unknowingly been talking to him for years in a fanfic forum…because sure, why not!
Sometimes an author manages to make you feel seen in a multitude of ways and that’s what it’s felt like reading Olivia’s books the last few years. I’m always excited to read her next book because she captures pieces of a lived experience in a way that helps others to truly understand what it’s like to live that experience – and that’s such a gift.