Lover of Romance for buddy-reading this with me. Lately, I've been feeling so unmotivated to read at times that I feel like I need other people around to hold me accountable. Now that I've read the book, I have some very mixed feelings, because while there were some things it did really well, there were some other things that left me with kind of a sour taste in my mouth.
Bree is a college graduate who has come to the small town of Pelion to find peace. It's a small town that she visited with her dad and she has good memories there, and she hopes to make more as she embarks on a path of healing. In Pelion, she meets Archer, a mute twenty-three year old man who lives as a hermit in his isolated cabin. It's basically lust for both of them at first sight, and his silence and trauma intrigues Bree, as she alternately treats him like a sexual object and a puzzle that she must figure out.
Here's the thing. I do see why this book is popular and it's an entertaining story. But I think it mostly will appeal to people for the same reasons that they like Colleen Hoover: it doesn't really challenge the status quo and it plays upon the readers' emotions to get you to care about the characters. I really wish there had been more depth to Archer as a human being. This book doesn't quite feel like savior porn but it certainly feels like it maybe shares the same zip code at times. Would Bree still feel the same attraction to Archer if he didn't look like a Greek god? Is he a project for her to fix? Does his silence just allow her to think of him as a tabula rasa, where she can project her own needs and interpretations on him? At one point, she says that the world would be a better place if more people were quiet like Archer, because of the focus on needing to hear THEIR voices, but in all of their interactions, Bree is the dominant voice, so this sort of sentiment ends up feeling a little hypocritical and problematic.
Bree has trauma as well and her backstory is very sad. I thought that it was interesting that her father was deaf and that because of this, she is able to sign with Archer. Some people didn't like this coincidence but I think it sort of worked and I guess it provided the author an out from having to come up with other ways for them to communicate. One thing I didn't like, however, is that her PTSD is immediately "cured" the first time she and Archer have sex. She used to associate storms with her father's murder and her own near-rape but after having sex with Archer in a storm, she's just like, "Wow, now I'll only think of you during storms." That felt way too easy and I didn't like that. I also felt like it was reprehensibly irresponsible of Bree to tell Archer, "Oh, I'm on the pill so we don't need condoms," because yeah, that protects against pregnancy but not STDs. She thinks she won't get anything from Archer because he's a virgin but SHE could give HIM something. So irresponsible. Ugh.
Now that I've gotten all of my dislikes out of the way, I will say that the small town setting was really well done. It gave me a fix for an itch that started for me by reading books like AIN'T SHE SWEET? and BAD DECISIONS. I think it adds a lot of tension, having people embark on a relationship in a place where everyone wants to be in your business-- especially if one of the people has a bad reputation. I also thought that Archer's back story was super sad and interesting. I would be willing to read a prequel book that showed the battle over Alyssa, even if it tore my heart out. And Tori was SUCH a great villain. I hated her so much. Travis was awful too, although the author sort of tried to redeem him at the end. Supposedly there's another book about him? Maybe that's why.
Overall, ARCHER'S VOICE was not a bad book. If you like CoHo and weepy new adult stories, I think you'll like this. It's certainly one of the better books I've read in this genre, which is not a genre I usually enjoy, so the fact that I liked it speaks highly in its favor. Could it have been better? Yes. Did it have its problems? Yes. But it passed the time and it tried to deliver some good messages about giving people second chances and looking beneath the (admittedly beautiful) surface, so I mean, it tried. I'm not going to kick it while it's down for that. Not a bad book at all but not entirely worth the hype for me, either.
2.5 out of 5 stars