Love, work, and the environment.
First Published: 31st April 2013
Date Reviewed: 21st February 2014
Emily works at GeoForce, a charity that wishes to rid the planet of SUVs. She’s very forthright in her opinions and quick to dismiss from an argument anyone who thinks differently – until she meets Robert. Robert works for a car manufacturer and his political views are at odds with hers; Emily’s beliefs ensure a massive debate. But Robert isn’t deterred, and he’s not as ‘bad’ as Emily thinks.
The Drake Equation is a book full of politics (the amount may take some getting used to) and difficult characters, but also with a romance that is in the main well-written, and believable thanks to the amount of effort the author puts into the build up.
Let’s deal with the negative first. The book needs a lot of editing. There are unnecessary dialogue tags when there are only two people in the conversation, odd turns of phrase, and mistakes such as the couple walking out of a shop in a strange manner because they continued out the door still holding the same hands they had shaken. These sorts of problems can jolt you from the text momentarily but they are not major issues overall. What is an issue is Emily’s lack of time spent actually working when contrasted with her strong views and a later promotion up the charity’s ladder (albeit that the lack of work is considered by the character at that time).
Then there are aspects that many may find negative but which cannot be called issues in themselves. Emily will be difficult for many readers to like, and even readers who agree with her views about fuel-hungry cars may find her too much – but it is evident that you’re not necessarily supposed to like the character. In regards to GeoForce there are a vast number of conflicting thoughts, statements, and actions. A prime example is the charity’s working with McDonalds wherein the latter provides the former with drink for the public at the rally. Whilst McDonalds may be improving, it’s not the sort of company you would expect an environmental group to align with. Depending on the reader, aspects of this sort will likely be met with confusion, or the thought that the charity may work on one issue at a time. A lesser divide will be caused by the employees’ mocking of the people they cold call for donations.
As the book progresses, the author gets better at showing how the characters are a good fit despite their differing views. (This is not to say she is ever bad at it, but it of course only becomes apparent as you read on and come to know the characters yourself.) Debates and other conversations do go on for a long time, however this means that all the groundwork for the relationship has been done by the time they are a couple – thereafter Walsh can just get on with the scenes without needing any big purpose for them. It means she can write purely character-driven scenes and the relationship becomes extremely believable. The author shows how, views aside, the characters are similar and well-matched. Even if their views are different, their strength of belief and ability to converse on these beliefs are equal.
In the same way, sudden conversational changes work because of Walsh’s dedication to detailing Emily’s beliefs. Where a sudden change is generally jarring in a book, Emily’s switch to her topic of choice aligns with her personality. Emily is arrogant, narrow-minded, and selfish, and because Walsh has shown you all this, her writing decisions work beautifully. You may not like Emily but it is impossible to say that Walsh hasn’t written her well.
As the book reaches its conclusion, readers may be divided as to whether or not the ending is equal to the rest of the story. Walsh’s decisions on Emily’s growth as a person will likely please some and annoy others, and the book could have done with more time spent on the time just before the change, as it is rather sudden. Similarly, a suitable conclusion to the conflict in the relationship is reached but not every one may believe in the result. But given that, either way Walsh was swayed to write, some readers were always likely to have been disappointed.
The Drake Equation looks at opposites and shows that when the difference is big enough, the situation may circle back around to the effect that there are more similarities than would be supposed. It takes the romance genre and moulds it into its own creation; it digs deeper into the general idea of a good match.
It has its flaws and it won’t satisfy everyone, but in The Drake Equation many may find what they’ve been looking for in a romance.
I received this book for review from the author.
March 6, 2014, 11:27 am
I love romances, but regarding politics, I’m not sure I would like this one.
March 15, 2014, 10:07 am
Isi: There is quite a bit to get through, but the nice thing about it is it’s not preachy – the characters are preachy to one another, but the author isn’t saying the reader needs to change/be of the same mindset.