Review: Thank You, Next (ARC)

Expected publication: November 30th 2020, 241 pages

Author: Sophie Ranald

Seriously, why do guys on dating apps think I want a picture of what’s in their pants? I could open an art gallery with the collection I’ve got.

Zoe really doesn’t want to die alone and surrounded by cats. But it’s not looking good: she’s had sex precisely twice in the last year, and her feline friend isn’t the kind of male company she wants in bed…

Her top dating disasters include:

1) The guy who kissed her hand, took out a violin and serenaded her in public.
2) The guy who force-fed her oysters (she can confirm that they’re not an aphrodisiac).
3) The guy who was so hungover he turned up with his t-shirt on inside out, sweating sambuca.
4) The guy who brought his actual kid on a dinner date.

And don’t even get her started on the dick pics, or how on earth you’re supposed to know whether a total stranger is an axe murderer or not.

Zoe’s ready to give up on the search for love, until her friend has an idea. Robbie lives by his horoscope, and he’s sure she’s got this dating stuff all wrong. He dares her to work her way through the zodiac until she finds The One.

Usually Zoe would laugh at such a suggestion, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Could love be written in the stars? Or is she destined to end up alone, eating take-out in bed and watching endless re-runs of Friends? 

How do you find the one in the age of Tinder? This novel delves into the awkwardness, the embarrassment, the hilarity, and the romance that can all come from online dating. There was so much potential as so many people have enough stories from their online dating experiences to fill multiple libraries, but this story just didn’t quite get there with the delivery. I just wasn’t a fan of the main character from beginning to end. This could be just her as a character or it could be that I’m missing something about her from previous novels.

Zoë is a 27-year-old vegan who is the head chef at a pub called the Ginger Cat, named after her ginger cat, Frazzle. She is obsessed with no future love interest living up to her ex, Joe, who is now with Alice, the pub’s manager. [I most likely will now read up on the previous novels just to get the backstory.] She trusts in the Stargazer astrology app to dictate her day-t0-day experiences and also her love life.  Her sous chef, Robbie and her come up with the master plan for Zoë’s dating life. She is to date men who all fall within the zodiac – date at least one man from each sign to find the one that fits best. It’s a very fun and entertaining concept, which is one reason why I was initially excited when it’s first mentioned in the book.

She starts with the signs that are the least compatible with her Aquarian sign and plans to move one step closer to what Astrology states is her best match. Before each date, she looks up what kind of traits to expect through the Stargazer app, and then she finds what she likes and doesn’t like about each sign. The dates themselves were fun and I wish there were more of them  – with twelve signs in the Zodiac, some of them like Capricorn and Taurus were only given a sentence where they would’ve been fun to expand on like the others.

Zoë blows off her task of finding a Dungeons & Dragons master for the pub or some of her prep time to go the gym. Again, I could be missing the reason why she goes to the gym so much. It seemed that every second of the novel was spent for her making time to go to the gym.  It was mind-blowing how she would work endless hours at her job, find time for  a social life with her dating, and then still spend tons of time at the gym. I get that it was where she hung out with her Dani (her best friend), but it just seemed like she was focusing on it too much, when the concept of the book should’ve been on her dating experiences.

For the Dungeons & Dragons part of the novel, I felt this was a really cute addition. It gave an insight into how fun one of these games can be, especially with a great Master as they make or break the experience.  Even if you aren’t amazing friends or even know the other players outside the game, you become a team in these games. It was nice to have it highlighted as it’s not a subject included in many novels. However, if the novel remains the same length, I feel that some of these pages could’ve been mentioned still, but have that space dedicated more to tales of additional disastrous dates as that’s the whole point of the story. (It’s a story about our main character’s search for love.)

The ending is very predictable and just didn’t feel as connected to them as a couple since they reveal feelings for each other really late in the story. I would’ve preferred more time to get to know them as a couple as it feels very rushed.  There wasn’t a lot of interaction to where you felt the attraction, which just would’ve been nice to have going through Zoë’s mind a little. Even if she didn’t fully feel like this one was for her, it would’ve been nice to have just some inklings entering her mind earlier in the book just so we feel more connected by the time they become a couple. It just be me, as others might feel there was enough in the novel as-is, but for me, there wasn’t quite enough.

Overall, it was a light and easy read with some very hilarious moments thrown in. The novel wasn’t a hit for me as there are parts that just felt too rushed and others that dragged on too long. With a little more balance and focus, I feel this novel would’ve been beyond fantastic as I could see where the author was trying to go – it just didn’t quite get there. The dry wit and humor was amazing and piqued my interest in this author. Although this novel wasn’t for me, I am curious to try out her other works!

**Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the advanced copy and chance to read this novel. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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