Genre: Romance, Humor
Published: Bookouture (November 30, 2020)
Print length: 316 pages
Major spoilers: No
Twenty-eight-year-old Zoe really doesn’t want to end up being a crazy old cat lady. As a chef, she’s used to sharp knives and getting burned, but she didn’t realise that being single was just as dangerous. There are some dates even an extra-large glass of wine can’t fix.
There was the guy who turned up drunk, face planted on the floor, and smelt like he was 90% tequila. He deserves a special mention because she’s sure she spotted an ankle tag beneath his trousers.
Plus the dullest guy in the universe whose idea of sexy talk was droning on about pensions and ‘prudent financial planning’.
Not to mention the one who didn’t even bother to show, leaving her sitting all alone in a bar, staring into her empty glass and dying a bit inside.
After Zoe says ‘thank you, next’ to every dud, her friend Robbie has an idea. He’s a dating machine and he bets that if she takes his love-life advice, her luck will change. Will there ever be a guy who makes her say, ‘thank you, yes’? Or should Zoe just admit defeat and start stockpiling cats?
ARC provided by publisher
Thank You, Next accompanies astrology-obsessed Zoë through the hapless highs and lows of dating in the twenty-first century following the messy aftermath of a breakup with her ex, Joe. Over the course of the novel, online dating profiles are erected, dick pics are deleted, and cats are scratched. This book exists in a category I like to call domestic dread, which lives opposite the slice-of-life that is domestic bliss. It contains all the trappings of a home environment full of love: warm, homemade food, fuzzy feline creatures, and bird-infested beer gardens. The catch is that most of the narrative is saturated with Zoë’s ill attempts at finding a date with a man who isn’t totally dysfunctional, and as a result, over 50% of the novel follows her on dating mishaps designed to be outrageous and therefore funny. Instead, most serve to slow down an already slow narrative, and there are few, if any, genuinely laugh out loud moments.
I found the book’s pacing to be something of an anomaly and am still slightly bewildered by the fact that Zoë’s real love interest only makes an appearance in the late second half of the book—and even then, his involvement in the narrative is relegated to brief, standout moments. He was by far and large the most interesting and three-dimensional of Sophie Ranald’s offerings and I was immediately fascinated with the contrast created by his coldness and Zoë’s warmth. That chafe was short-lived, however, and so too was my hope for greater romantic development between the pair. Too long was spent following Zoë on terrible tinder dates, or else navel-gazing with her satirically leftist boyfriend who was clearly freeloading from the get-go.
Strangely, the better moments in the book for me were the more minute details of domestic dread. I enjoyed following Zoë to the gym during her workouts with Dani—even if 99% of their conversations were spent discussing men, or wishing they were lesbians so they didn’t have to deal with the dysfunctions of heterosexual dating—or cozying up inside her pub, the ginger cat, while she whipped up warm meals for her patrons. The food writing in this was almost more engaging than the actual romance, and one of the greatest opportunities for exploring meta-narratives was wasted when the Dungeons and Dragons gameplay was only briefly employed as an entry-point into the main romance and as a way to later establish their relationship at the very end of the book.
For readers who love the ‘will they, won’t they?’ more than the actual getting together, Thank You, Next is a fun, light read with very little at stake and perhaps too much in the way of astrological musings.