I have heard tons of great things about Melissa Broder’s books, and I was stoked to get an early copy of her upcoming release Death Valley. This was such a character driven story, and I always struggle with those. I’m an action girl and I need strong plotlines to stay invested. Especially with a toddler, character driven novels tend to be more lullaby than anything else for me. Or maybe I’ve been reading too many ‘fever dreamesque’ novels of late to commit to a new dreamy prose.
Death Valley is such a deep look at the way we process grief, loss, and how we define love. So many of the thoughts felt relatable to me, and our narrators rambling and personification of the world around her is how I go through life as well. The number of objects and animals I talk to in a day probably borders on ridiculous. While I enjoyed the exploration of our narrator’s coming to terms with death in the literal Death Valley and some of the humor woven in, I found parts of the story to be mildly boring and some points were too weird even for me. The pacing was a bit slow, which hindered the story’s ability to hold my attention.
The themes and writing within the book are excellent, but the overall pacing and lack of a more actionable plotline made it less impactful for me. I almost gave this a ★★ but added a star because grappling with human existence is something I really like diving into, and I did think it was well written, even if it wasn’t my cup of tea.
Death Valley comes out October 3, 2023. Huge thank you to Scribner for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest opinion. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my Instagram @speakingof.books.