Friday 9 September 2016

Reviewed: The Ex Factor by Eva Woods

TITLE: The Ex Factor
AUTHOR: Eva Woods

PUBLICATION DATE: September 8, 2016

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Is it possible to freecycle love?

Modern dating is hard, especially when all you meet are liars, oddballs, men who wear Superman pants and men who live with their mums.

So why not date someone who already comes pre-approved? Just because your friend’s ex wasn’t right for her doesn’t mean that he won’t be right for you. That’s Marnie’s new plan for herself and her three best friends, perennially single Helen, recently divorced Rosa and cynical lawyer Ani.

Through bad dates and good, the four friends begin to realise that there are advantages to dating pre-screened men…but there can be some serious pitfalls to falling for your friend's ex

I loved the fresh, original concept in The Ex Factor. Four single women – all aware, at least, that dating a friend’s ex is against all kinds of girl code – get caught up in a somewhat crazy scheme where each friend picks an ex of theirs for their chosen friend to date. What ensues is a frantic, whirlwind tale of chaos, drama, friendship, disastrous dates and maybe just a bit of romance.

Helen, Rosa and Ani are all single but at very different stages in that aspect of their lives. Helen is basically married to her cat – who, yes, does share her surname on his very own Facebook profile – and she is quite comfortable sat in her very tidy home watching boxsets. That is, when she’s not working, and her job entails a dating site specifically for people who are already married. Rosa is separated from her husband David after he cheated on her with a twenty year old intern at their workplace, called Daisy. She can barely bring herself to think about that without crying, and dating again is definitely not something on her agenda. Ani, though, has been dating. In fact she’s had more first dates in a year than most people would have in a lifetime. But Ani, fairly cynical towards romance due to being a divorce lawyer, is very particular towards men and doesn’t really ever agree to a second date unless the first one went perfectly, which also never happens.

But when Marnie, their friend who’d disappeared for a couple of years, returns back to London, Helen, Rosa and Ani know they cannot avoid the chaos that comes with Marnie’s character. Though reluctant at first, they soon all agree to the Ex Factor idea, and the madness begins…

I really enjoyed this book. It was an entertaining read and at times had a very comical outlook on friendship and dating and what happens when those lines are blurred and you enter that typical no-go area of dating your friend’s ex. There were lots of laugh-out-loud moments and giggles provided by a group of friends and their dating woes. If you are currently settled in a happy relationship, this book will make you very pleased about that, and if you are currently dating, maybe online, or you just find yourself fancying the ex of one of your friends, The Ex Factor will probably fill you with a bit of dread and fear and attempt to put you off for life, whilst also showing that maybe some of these dating stories do have a happy ending after all.

There are a lot of characters in this book and that’s maybe a bit of an understatement. There’s Marnie, Ani, Rosa and Helen. And their exes. And their current crushes. And their bosses and colleagues and in some cases, family. Then when you think that they are also swapping exes, it was for a large amount of this book fairly tricky to keep up and to remember which character Tom was relevant to, or who Simon has been seeing etc etc. This was, I suppose, always going to be the case but that didn’t make it any easier to keep up. For the most part I really enjoyed this book but there were times I felt it was dragging – not really the story, which had a good pace throughout – but more the time I spent trying to remember the importance of each character. About two thirds through, I gave up trying to remember and found I flew through the rest of the book that way, caught up in the light-hearted, witty story without needing to try and remember who everyone was.

I really liked all four of the main characters, although my favourite character was actually one of their dates. Marnie was maybe the most difficult to like but she was quite mysterious and intriguing and I liked how I never really knew what to expect from her. Ani was quite cynical but I liked her – and I loved the way the story ended for her. Rosa seemed to be the most honest and down-to-earth of the friends and I found that I cared for her character the most out of the friends, although she was closely followed by Helen, who never seemed to shy away from her true self – being anxious and a bit of a geek were actually pretty relatable traits.

One of my favourite aspects of this book was its unpredictability – there were so many dates involved that for a couple of the friends I was guessing at how things would work out for them right until the end. Overall, I found The Ex Factor to be a fun and escapist book – ideal for a lazy weekend or a holiday read on the beach. I’m looking forward to reading more from the author.

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