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The Pursued and the Pursuing

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Member Reviews

Thank you so much to Net Galley and the publisher, DartFrog Books, for providing me with the digital ARC for this book!

I've been reading and following Odasso's work for years. If you're lucky enough to be just discovering them with their first published work of fiction, congrats! It's been a wonderful journey through several books of poetry for them to get here. (That being said, DO seek out their poetry when you're done!)

I've followed Odasso through years of amazing, beautiful work. Odasso has never shied away from dealing with the harder areas of life in their work and one is no different. But they definitely have a way of making them not as...sharp.

(I know I use the word "amazing" a lot, but it's very true. I'm always just generally left in awe by Odasso's work--how beautiful the diction is, the smooth flow, the sheer, evocative power of their text. You'll inevitably find something that hits home for you and it'll be one heck of a journey!)

This isn't one to miss. If you're a fan of The Great Gatsby, pick it up without hesitation. And even if you're not (like me, but I jump at the chance to read anything Odasso writes!), I have no doubt you'll be impressed by the special brand of beauty and storytelling that's trademark to Odasso.
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I spent last semester reading and studying adaptations of Shakespeare which included prequels and sequels to some of his most popular works. I wouldn't be surprised if similarly a few years from now <i>The Pursued and the Pursuing</i> appeared in the syllabus of such a university class regarding F. Scott Fitzgerald.

What would happen if <i>The Great Gatsby</i> ended differently. If Nick and Jay had the chance to act on their mutual attraction that's undoubtedly among the pages of the source novel? I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them change as they lived their life and seeing little Pam grow up.

And look, it has very varied ratings. Some loved it, some hated it. I think that's the characteristic of all great literary works. Thank you so much NetGalley and DartFrog Books for the ARC. I'm in the former category.

(Also to those who bemoan the fact that this is basically just a fanfiction: <i>all</i> adaptations are fanfiction when you think about it.)
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Thank you to the publishers, the author, and NetGalley for giving me an early access copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

TLDR: While I recognize that this book has a lot of really good elements, I don't think this book was really for me. I liked it but at times it was a drag to read. If you really loved Gatsby (either the movie or the book) I think this book is for you.

The Pursued and the Pursuing is a continuation of the classic 1920s novel The Great Gatsby where instead of dying, Gatsby faked his own death. I think this book is good, but just not really for me. While I liked the original novel well enough in high school, I don't think I liked it enough to love this book. The book is really well written and the characters are good, but this book read like a fanfiction. This is not a bad thing, I love fanfiction, but it did give me the sense that I was reading a fanfiction for a fandom that I was not a part of. 

Overall, it is a good book. If you were really into Gatsby you will really like this book.
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I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to NetGalley for the book. I am a Great Gatsby sucker and this book was exactly what I needed. It's the second Gatsby adaptation I've read this year (the first being The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo) and it was very different from the first. This book is a continuation of the first, a "what happens after" story and it's just beautiful and heartwarming and sweet. It reads like a fix it fic to be honest - I'm 90% sure it was fan fiction to begin with - but I loved that. Lots of tropes that I loved, sweet interactions, writing that felt close to Fitzgerald's style. There were one or two things that I didn't love about it - a couple of problematic things that I'm not sure were discussed in the best way (while they may have been periodically accurate I don't think that means that we should write like that) but overall very sweet and soft and funny and excellent.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for a review!

I really liked that this was a sort of continuation of TGG, a "what if?" story. It was interesting to see this author's take on the story and the characters. Another thing I appreciated was that it was written similarly to TGG, which made it feel more "authentic", I guess.

I wasn't in the right mood for this, unfortunately. But I'm certain that other people are going to love it!
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WARNING: This review will include a spoiler for The Great Gatsby. 

This story takes up where the Great Gatsby finished. In one of the final scenes of the Great Gatsby, Wilson shoots Gatsby by his pool. In this story, Gatsby is saved by Nick and the servants and taken to hospital, where he recovers. I reread The Great Gatsby immediately before reading this. Fitzgerald manages to fold a great story into a short book, barely larger than a novella, it would take a lot to make a worthy sequel. The Pursued and the Pursuing is twice the length of the original, the title is taken from a line at the end of the fourth chapter of The Great Gatsby.

A phrase began to beat in my ears with a sort of heady excitement: "There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired."

Nick Carraway, chapter 4 The Great Gatsby

This book assumes knowledge of the Great Gatsby, as there are many back references to scenes from the original book. This book turns Nick, the narrator of the Great Gatsby and Jay Gatz into a romantic item. In the hospital as Gatsby is recovering, Nick speaks of Jordan his former girlfriend.

"I didn't love Jordan," I said defiantly. "I threw her over. What do you think of that?"
"Either you think she's rotten, too," Jay said simply, "or you prefer men."

Neither character turn the other, it transpires that both had romantic liaisons with other men during the Great War. Also in the original, Nick runs into Tom one last time before he leaves New York. This is at the very end of the novel. Of the late Gatsby, Tom says, ‘That fellow had it coming to him. He threw dust in your eyes just like he did in Daisy’s….’ suggesting Nick might be gay and an unreliable narrator. 

Once recovered, Jay and Nick travel around as a couple to Montreal and Quebec and then onto Europe before returning to America and settling in Boston, New York having too many dangers for the pair. Nick gives up his work selling bonds to become a popular columnist with the Boston Globe and Jay works in the Boston docks fixing up boats. The story then moves to the 1930s and Daisy reappears in the narrative and foists on Jay and Nick her rebellious teenage daughter Pam, who becomes a kind of surrogate daughter for the two men. Pam, as might be expected isn't a typical girl, psychologically or physiologically and the two men are smitten by her and she is unperturbed by their unconventional relationship. Fitzgerald might have been rather perturbed by how his characters have been changed in this book, Fitzgerald was very sensitive about his own masculinity. 
The novel lacked the conflict and the over the top exuberance of the original. Some of the ideas seemed anachronistic for the 1930s the ideas of psychological closure and of gay marriage. Talking about a hotel Nick remarks "it's popular for weddings" Pam gave me a sad sort of look, tilting her chin up. "Maybe someday," she said, which was heartbreakingly clever. It wasn't until 1970, that two men applied for a marriage license in the US.
This book serves as a what-if, posing the question "What would happen if Jay Gatsby didn't die?"  It doesn’t live up to the strength of the original but the amazing original is a tough act to follow.

Thank you to NetGalley, AJ Odasso, and publishers DartFrog Books , for this eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you to NetGalley, DartFrog Books, and AJ Odasso for the eARC of The Pursued and the Pursuing in exchange for an honest review. 

This book serves as a what-if, posing the question "What would happen if Jay Gatsby didn't die?" Through the eyes of Nick Carraway, The Pursued and the Pursuing follows Nick and Jay together through their lives in their 30s and 40s. 

The first third of the book is essentially Nick and Jay traveling the world. It didn't feel like there was much of a point to have such a significant chunk of the book to be about this. Once Nick and Jay decided to settle down, the story seemed to pick up and have more of a point to it. I wish there was more time spent on Nick and Jay's relationship with Pammy instead of the excessive traveling in the beginning.

I was glad the author had a lot of callbacks to things that had happened in The Great Gatsby but felt that it was hard to remember the context to many of those instances because I haven't read TGG in a while. 

This book is what it started out to be: fanfic. I feel like the author missed the mark on a few moments and on parts of the character's identities. It would be a good read if you found it on a fanfiction site, but not the sort of thing that should be published into a book. 

Although I did, for the most part, enjoy the last half of the book, it's not anything stellar and is essentially just subpar fanfic.
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This is a reimagining of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby in which Jay does not die as a result of a gunshot, but rather lives and enters a life-long passionate relationship with Nick Carraway, the narrator of the book (and Daisy's cousin). And later along, Tom and Daisy's daughter Pam becomes a surrogate daughter to the two men.

Now, if you are like me and reluctantly read this classic in high school, you may have the same problem as I did. I didn't recall every last detail and so when Odasso briefly mentions a particular scene or two .... it was hard to get up to speed on what exactly happened in that scene and what they were drawing from that scene. For example, "the ceremony {...} reminded me of nothing so much as the ill-fated day on which we'd all piled into Tom's coupe and Jay's Kissel and had let our irritable mutual hatred do the rest." Okay, sure. Also, there is little character development beyond the original, again perhaps assuming that we had a strong memory and understanding of the original.

At times, I felt like I was reading (and not always getting) the jokes in the New Yorker magazine. For example, Nick shares a humorous postcard Pam creates to capture New Orleans:

It featured a parade of cartoonish alligators in Mardi Gras beads. On the reverse, Pam had scrawled: TO MESSRS. BOSWELL & JOHNSON WITH REGARDS, CAN'T SPELL OR FIT THE REST. WISH YOU WERE HERE. [...] She might make a fine humorist if she put her mind to cultivating the impluse at greater length.

Uumm, okay. Can anyone else just see a vintage New Yorker cartoon? And if so, can you explain it to me?

At the end of the book, thinking back upon Jay and Nick's life together, it feels languid and half-realized. In much the same way the Great Gatsby gives us a world of illusion and facade, Jay and Nick's life together reads the same, IMHO. Fantastic parties where coworkers dance on tables and sneak off to the library for amorous tristes, epic love-soaked long train trips together, Venice, Paris, a charming house on Beacon Hill, a hazy summer exploring New Orleans ("an entire port-of-call filled with untainted memories for us to share."), and so on.

While this particular alternate history did not work for me, it has pushed me toward rereading The Great Gatsby. 3 stars (and I may revisit this review after reading the original classic).
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Now that The Great Gatsby is in the public domain I've seen quite a few tie-ins and retellings. I don't think F. Scott Fitzgerald would like this book, with Nick and Gatsby gay and in love and a female character actually moving cleverly and significantly through space, but I sure did.

The Pursued and the Pursuing supposes that Gatsby doesn't die after Mr. Wilson shoots him and instead he and Nick fall in love, travel the world, and settle in Boston. Ten years on they meet with Daisy and her daughter Pam and Pam enters their life in a significant way and stays there for a number of years.

My favorite part of this book was Odasso's attempt to keep Nick's narrative voice similar to how it was in the original novel. I also enjoyed the many references and allusions to The Great Gatsby.
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this book had a strong start but eventually it got boring and was written like a bad fan fiction on wattpad. did not enjoy the long chapters or how the author made some of the original characters from the great gatsby so...hateable.
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I did a quick re-read of The Great Gatsby before I read this to remind me of what happened. Can there be such a thing as a spoiler alert for a classic book? Jay Gatsby died and his many hangers on, who lived for the debauchery and hedonism of his parties, did not give a flying fuck about him. 

Only Nick cared. Even Daisy Buchanan, the object of Jay’s love didn’t care and she let him down in the worst possible way. How could she?

The Pursued and The Pursuing picks up the story where Jay is found shot and it flips the ending. Jay is alive. AJ Odasso brings back the characters and puts them straight back into the story like he turned back the clock. 

Nick and Jay make their own way in the world, relying on each other without the trappings of parties and socialising. Those people were no longer needed.  Daisy does re-appear but she is no longer the sweet darling and the object of Jay’s affection. Her amazingly funny and delightful daughter Pam becomes the object of Jay and Nick’s affection instead. She’s the new darling. The dear heart. 

I’m not a Gatsby die hard so this book was a good read for me.  I think the re-read before hand definitely helped because it made me so happy about the turn of events that brought Jay back, he didn’t deserve that tragic ending. I wanted to see him full of life and love. Nicky so clearly, in The Great Gatsby, had this profound love of Jay that it felt a damn shame not to play on how that might progress. 

Made me want to write a fan fiction and bring Tess Durbeyfield back to life. Now there’s a thought.
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This is gonna be a long one you guys, I'm so sorry. I promise nobody is more disappointed than me.

So first of all, this is not a retelling, this is a sequel. We pick up immediately after the end of the great gatsby, and span almost two decades of Nick's life. During which nothing happens.

Don't get me wrong, they do a lot of <I>things</I>. But this by far is the most boring book I've read in a long time. None of the events matter, or effect each other, there is nothing whatsoever resembling a plot. And that, in itself, isn't a problem, I've been known to love quiet character studies where not much happens at all. The problem was that the characters were not nearly well developed enough to carry that sort of a book. In fact, characters are hardly introduced at all. The assumption is that you know them, that you know the great gatsby, and Odasso doesn't waste time with things like characterization. They seem to attempt an arc for both Jay and Nick, but because we don't see where these characters started, it's all tell and no show. The book is TELLING me thes characters have developed, but really, they've and just been gallivanting around for 100 pages having dramatic moments that never lead to anything bigger.

At this point, you're probably thinking, elena, that sounds like fanfiction. Because it is. This is not a stand alone novel, in fact, I think you would have no goddamn idea what was going on unless you'd read gatsby, because the book constantly references the original with no attempt to explain (my personal favorite being petals described as "the color of jays old suit"). So, okay. This is fanfiction. Meet it where it's at, review it as fanfiction!

The problem is that it's still bad fanfiction. I love fanfiction. I write fanfiction. I've written <I>Gatsby</I> fanfiction, even. The fact that this started on ao3 is one of the reasons I wanted to like it so badly. But if I had seen this on ao3, I never would have read it, because it's exactly the kind of fanfiction I hate. This is fanfiction that completely misses the point of the text it's pulling from. Why ressurect Gatsby? Why erase the tragic ending? Does the author have anything interesting to say about that? I was willing to give them a chance. Unfortunately, the answer seems to be, "so I can write fluffy domestic kidfic with no stakes". And there is absolutely a market for that, but god, I am not in it. They fuck for the first time on page 17 and then they don't stop until halfway through the book, at which point, it switches gears and becomes about the trials and tribulations of raising a teenager with a neglectful mother. 

Speaking of which. Lets talk about Daisy. This book made my fucking blood boil with the way it treated Daisy Buchanan. Odasso seems to not only fundamentally misunderstand her character, but unabashedly hate her. Daisy in the great gatsby is an imperfect person, a misguided person who makes mistakes and hurts people in the process. Daisy in this book is a monster bitchwife that Nick can't so much as think about without resorting to violence. It's perhaps my least favorite trope in gay fanfiction, the complete character assassination and neglect of the female characters for the sake of the male romantic leads. It's exhausting, and it's so common in fandom. This book wants me to believe that it's about growing, changing, becoming a better person. But it's not. It's about misrepresenting characters to serve a narrative. I can't help but think this was done just to give Jay and Nick an excuse to adopt Pam, a plotline that did not have enough narrative payoff to justify itself. If you're going to be fanfiction, which this undeniably is, you have to at least commit to the one facet that makes fanfiction what it is: the characters. You can't have your original novel cake and eat it too.

The writing and the dialogue are clunky, but I'm not going to bother with that, I don't think it's the biggest problem by far. Odasso seems to occasionally want to imitate the style of the original, but it's inconsistent, and given that they're trying to imitate one of the most stunning things about the original, all it ends up doing is reminding me I'd rather be reading that book. The handling of social issues is hamfisted and inelegant, which is a shame, because I think it could've been excellent commentary if it weren't so poorly executed.

I think maybe the best example of what I hated about this book is the Holocaust subplot. If you're thinking, what the fuck, how does this book have a Holocaust subplot, boy was I confused too! Don't worry though, it's introduced in the last twenty pages of the book and never has any actual effect on the story or characters. It was just an excuse to go on vacation. And then it's never brought up again, because it's the last 20 pages of the book, and we're talking about the fucking Holocaust. This book doesn't care to give any piece of tension the weight it deserves, because the author seems to be terrified of any conflict lasting and more than a few paragraphs. Every problem is resolved immediately and forgotten about.

If you read 100k kidfic fix-it tagged "everything is beautiful and nothing hurts", this book is for you. Otherwise, I'm genuinely so sad to say it is not worth your time.
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3/5
*** Special thanks to NetGalley and Dartfrogs Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review***

This was a very interesting take on a continuation of The Great Gatsby. The writing was very well done and many times was able to impress me with the similarties I found in comparission to TGG.

The characters were complex and portrayed in a way that were mostly believable, I especially found this author's portrayal of Nick to be head on.

My biggest complaits are that this author tended to do a lot of telling and not showing. While it was not exsessive, I was not expecting it (especially in some NSFW scenes). In addition, I had a hard time believeing a lot of the choices that the author made in regards to Gatsby's character at the beginning novel. It was hard for me to believe that Gatsby would leave everything behind so quickly and jump into a new relationship. I wish that there had been more build up of a relationship between Nick and Gatsby.

Overall, this was a fantastic retelling/continuation (of sorts) about TGG and I would recommend it.
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this was an absolute delight. like, i had my fears going into this book (which i think is pretty normal for gatsby fans), but boy, did i end up loving this

if you loved the great gatsby and you want nick to find all the love and happiness he deserves then this is the book for you!

AJ Odasso is no Fitzgerald but the great thing was that they weren't really trying to be Fitzgerald either? they did mimic a Fitzgeraldesque voice (Fitzgeraldian? Fitzgeraldish? no one knows) and nick also felt fairly authentic but it also felt like a seperate entity. a do-over with different strengths if i might say so. and i feel like that's a good way of writing something based on a famous and well-loved story. like, your audience clearly reads the book bc they loved the original but they also want somehing kinda new? and this books delivered exactly that

also? nick carraway is still my absolute favorite. and he got so much love in this!! so much happiness!!

(as always shoutout to netgalley for the ARC, you guys, this book made me really happy)
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Thank you to netgalley, AJ Odasso, and publishers, for gifting me with an early access e-copy in exchange for my honest unfiltered review. 

First things first I've got to say WHEW! The Pursued and the Pursuing is one fantastically odd and charming ride. As a lover of the The Great Gatsby as soon as I read the synopsis of this book I knew I HAD to read it; What I didn't know, however, was if I'd be satisfied with the narrative as its a new writer picking up and running with the history of Fitzgerald's masterpiece. Now that I'm finished I can honestly say I am beyond in love with this alternate story. 

AJ Odasso has given us the opportunity to peak in to one possible version of the rest of Gatsby's existence, had he he not succumbed to death. For me the Pursued and the Pursuing started off a little clunky which, to be honest, frightened me. It was not, however, very long before I found myself entirely immersed in the story, scrolling through the pages as fast as my eyes would allow me to read. 

This is a beautiful, unique, charming story set in the 1930's told with historical accuracy and a keen knowledge of what life must have been like when same sex couples tried to simply live their lives back then. This story also gives us the chance to become acquainted with the Gatsby we all hoped was hiding underneath the original character. He sheds his fortune, his epic lifestyle, his reputation and learns humility, respect, how to trust, and how to love another whole heartedly, as well as how to love himself. When Daisy interjects herself in Jay and Nicks life again to inquire about her daughter we see both men mature beyond their own solid relationship and create a healthy, functioning and most importantly happy family. 

This is "fan fiction" or re-telling at its finest. AJ Odasso has given us a lovely alternative to the continuation of The Great Gatsby.

Highly Highly recommended for fans of The Great Gatsby, though The Pursued and the Pursuing is good enough to stand alone if you've never read it's inspiration. This does come with a NSFW warning however, so if this bothers you this book may not be for you, which would be a shame as it's beyond worth it.
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The Pursued and the Pursuing

Full feature for this title will be posted at: @cattleboobooks on Instagram!
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I had to DNF this about 25% through because the writing style just wan't doing it for me. It felt like the author was trying too hard to emulate the writing style of F Scott Fitzgerald, but couldn't mold the words in a way that had the same impact as The Great Gatsby. This writing style was hard to read and hard to enjoy for me.
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