Friday, January 29, 2021

At Any Price by Brenna Aubrey


 DNF @ 47%

While reading this book, I kept thinking of that controversy when that famous gamer girl sold her bathwater and people (mostly dudes, let's be honest) started posting videos of themselves drinking and even smoking it. EVERYONE was talking about it (as people do). But AT ANY PRICE kind of takes that whole fetishization of the girl gamer one step further with a popular female gaming influencer deciding to auction off her virginity to her audience of simps.

Naturally, the winner is a billionaire and hot. Which is where this book takes a decidedly FIFTY SHADES OF GREY tone with an unsexy contract and a lot of talking about "doing it" without actually doing it. Even halfway through the book, the couple still hadn't had penetrative sex. I get that a lot of authors feel the need to draw this out for tension, but it felt unrealistic and kind of weird. And I know, "realistic" in a romance novel? I know it's fiction, but I do like some realism.

So let's talk about what the author did right. She tried to understand gaming culture, to the point that she either did serious research or is a casual gamer herself. I feel like she really tried to make the heroine seem like an influencer and the hero seem like the CEO of a gaming company. And the game that the MC is playing does have Runescape/WoW vibes that gave me all the nostalgias. I also feel like the writing was halfway decent. I just didn't like all the mixed messages about the heroine and what she was trying to do. Her manifesto in the beginning smacks of "white feminism" and even though I wouldn't call it racist, it definitely feels tone deaf and misinformed. I liked the attempt at making this a more empowered version of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY... it just didn't succeed.

There's nothing objectively wrong with this book. I just feel like it gives off too many mixed signals and I don't really like how it tries to demonstrate feminism through objectification and the purity myth.

2 out of 5 stars

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