Relationships play out via e-mail in this novel about a student and her escapades with a former addict.
At a radio station, intern Lori meets former addict Nick, who shocks her with talk of his drug-addled, Grateful Dead-following past. As he teaches her about radio equipment he also aggressively propositions her, sending her erotic e-mails and seducing her on the job. She’s unable to resist, even when her buddy Rutherford says Nick’s no good. Lori tries to tear herself away, but Nick mercilessly toys with her, and she becomes emotionally drained. Eventually she invents an online alter ego named Desiree Jones. Though the book could have delved into online role-playing and furthered the plot in an exciting way, it unfortunately plateaus, and Lori does not turn the tables on Nick. Instead she’s continuously upset at him and self-critical. This pivotal relationship lacks momentum, which would further the narrative and provide provocative drama. Transcribed e-mails are interspersed throughout, and while it’s interesting to see how cyber-life informs and changes the characters’ real lives, often the electronic interludes act as a substitute for a well-formed plot. In fact, much about the characters is revealed via this device: Rutherford loves the occult and can’t find a girlfriend, so Lori sets him up with Angela, who has confidence issues, and monitors their exchanges closely through e-mail, which is a fascinating take on the immediacy of cyber-friendship.
A melodramatic tale of seduction, with little narrative tension.