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Sunday, January 7, 2018

ARC Review: King of Code by CD Reiss

I love CD Reiss. I mean love love love her. You have to read some of my other Reiss reviews to really get a feel for how serious I'm being. I started reading Reiss with Songs of Submission. I gobbled up Jon and Monica's story including Coda and the follow up. I then went on to read the other books about the Drazen siblings and loved every single one on a level that is hard to describe. And I know you're all 'what about King of Code?' but give me a minute because I feel like this background is important. I love the hard core erotic action/romance Reiss and it's very difficult for me to say anything negative about her writing. Part of me feels like, if you give the world the kind of brilliance Reiss delivered with her Drazen novels and OMG The Marriage Games duet, you get a pass forever. So all that being said, it's kind of difficult to write this review of King of Code and you need to know that it's probably a more generous representation of my feelings than I would normally give. So here it goes. 

I did not like the characters in King of Code. I really really didn't like them and that made this book a struggle. Taylor is an egotistical, sexist know-it-all who doesn't really know much. He's built some indestructible code that's going to change the whole entire world and is totally unhackable until it gets hacked to pieces. Taylor follows clues left by the hacker to some small town trying to figure out the hack and close it off. In small town USA he finds Harper. From the beginning of the book Taylor's sexism is so front and center that it's actually a bit much. Harper pops up everywhere when Taylor arrives in town. She mysteriously knows every convenient answer and is around to give Taylor a ride when his car breaks down but Taylor never suspects she is the hacker because girls don't know computers. Whatever. And then there is Harper who is as you know from the synopsis the hacker. Harper is truly crazy. I know it's supposed to be the appealing sort of crazy but I was not amused. I wanted to punch Harper. Harper lies about absolutely everything. I won't spoil anything but I will tell you Harper is what my mom called a "lying wonder." Like she lied so much it was wondrous. 

The entirety of the book (well at least 70%) is Taylor trying to figure out why Harper wanted him to come to Barrington and how he can get his code back. Harper sets up this series of task for Harper to perform and gives him his stuff back piece by piece as he performs. I'm not even going to get into what the tasks are because just, no. But I will tell you that I was infuriated by Harper leading Taylor around by the nose. I was pissed at Taylor for being so awesomely weak. Taylor is portrayed as a tech guy who can't fight. He basically out snarks his opponents and f-cks their girlfriends, his words, not mine. I don't like that at all. I'm sorry but give me my alpha men with the short fuses who will go to war for their women. I don't want some weak guy who lets a woman completely manipulate him and then out of the friggin blue falls in love with her. 

In my opinion (and in the actual book) Harper just destroys Taylor s life and Taylor gets on his knees and worships her for it. I honestly did not understand the connection between these two characters. It's like they bond over the rubble of Taylor's existence and I was just like, huh? The book is told in Taylor's POV so I really had no idea what the hell was going on in Harper's head, I just knew I wanted to smack her. For as weak as Taylor was, Harper was indecisive and unstable and kinda friggin immature. 

And I know this review is long but let's talk about the Barrington story line for a second. I appreciate Reiss' efforts to highlight the plight of many places in the U.S. that have been hit hard by automation and globalization. Hell, I'm from Michigan. I've seen first hand in painful detail, the story Reiss is trying to tell. My problem is totally selfish. I don't want to read about it in a romance novel. At least I don't want to read a novel where that is the focus in the way it was in this book. I want to get away from reality, not be immersed in it for several hours. This is totally subjective but that's how I feel. I just didn't like the stark portrayal of Barrington or Silicone Valley. I know there were some important nuances but the whole book was so frustrating for me, I just couldn't get there.

In summary, I love CD Reiss. I can find no fault in her writing style or storytelling. However, I hated weak Taylor and neurotic Harper and I did not enjoy reading about them. That's all I got.

**ARC Provided by Social Butterfly PR**

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