Cover Image: The Arc

The Arc

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Member Reviews

This wasn't for me BUT I love the concept behind this title and it took me a few tries to get thru it becuase I really really really wanted to love it. 

I didn't dislike but I was a little lukewarm on, again its not bad at all in fact it's funny, thought provoking and very interesting but I felt like it was more think piece than romance. 

I did LOVE the narration very well done, and will happily listen to other titles they've worked on.
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Satirical story about what could happen to the future of dating. Very enjoyable to see the main character grow, great satisfying twist at the end.
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Can Science Deliver Ever-Lasting Love?
Tory Henwood Hoen Explores the Future of Matchmaking on The Arc
I think dating apps are dating hell. What a colossal waste of my time they have proven to be for the past 10+ years of my life. How could you judge chemistry or a successful connection based on some photos followed by a few carefully crafted and overthought sentences? I’ll spare you the rest of this rant and jump to the point. I have considered matchmaking services. Paying somebody else to decide who would be a good fit for me (and vice-versa) sounds considerably more attractive than spending hours swiping through potential matches.


This background might explain why I was so drawn to The Arc, which is basically about a single woman in her mid-30s, who has tried all the apps and is presented with a unique opportunity to try something different.

Relationship Architecture: A Shortcut to Love?

Ursula, our main character, is tired of having to endure strings of bad dates in her quest for love. So when a woman approaches her and suggests an exclusive and secretive service that can help her find her one and only mate for $40,500 ($50,000 if she had been a man because of the gender pay gap), she finds a way to make it happen. She then proceeds to submit to extensive physical, intellectual, and emotional testing to find her perfect match. RED FLAGS EVERYWHERE, but who cares? Take all my money and poke and prod me, Ursula concludes. I probably wouldn’t have gone for it, but I understand the appeal.

Ursula & Rafael
The Arc, unfortunately, didn’t live up to my high expectations. I wasn’t able to connect with Ursula the way I envisioned. I quickly grew tired of being told repeatedly that Ursula was weird. Truthfully, I don’t find anything she did particularly weird. Plus, I’m more of a “live your life and do your thing, babycakes” kind of person, but I digress.

The author spends way too much time describing Ursula’s daily life, which includes frequent visits to a feminist wellness club called “The Stake” (because of where witches were burned). I think the author meant to be sarcastic and satirical when she built Ursula’s world, but I didn’t enjoy the humor, which often made me cringe.


I also found it challenging to like her subsequent love interest, Rafael. However, I’m a sucker for even a “meh” love story, so I felt some relief as soon as he came into the story. But Rafael also got his fair share of eye rolls, trust me. I especially regretted reading while he explained feminism to Ursula in an effort to get her to agree to his recommendation regarding her career. I wrote in my notes “yuck,” and I think that pretty much sums it up. Oh my, and the pet names, THE PET NAMES… Trust me, you’re better off if I don’t include examples here.

Characters might be unlikeable, but the story has depth
All in all, the characters didn’t feel genuine, and I quickly lost interest in their journey. But, despite that, I found the story’s premise creative and insightful. This was far from your usual rom-com. It, instead, deromanticizes love and forces the reader to explore valid questions such as: can we be predisposed to love? Is love really just a choice? Of course, everybody, single or partnered, knows the answers to these questions, but I think some of us hopeless romantics have a tough time internalizing it. If you’d like to explore that concept more, The Arc by Tory Henwood Hoen can be a good read for you. Think about it as a “Love is Blind” meets an NIH Clinical Trial.

Narration
I have to admit my favorite part of listening to this book was the narrator. I loved Mary Elizabeth Kelly’s different accents and voices—at times, I would forget it was only one narrator!
2.5🌟
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Cool premise: at The Arc, for about $50k, you get a guaranteed match with the man or woman of your dreams. Not just a regular dating-app-esque match though; a gold-standard one, based on complicated algorithms blah-blah-blah. Anyway, who cares how it works? The point is, you're almost 100% guaranteed to be compatible with the person you match with, on all levels. Ursula matches with Rafael and darned if it doesn't seem to work. Quirky Ursula and solid, steady Rafael are not only wildly attracted to each other, they enjoy and are amused by each other, they become best friends. Until there comes a glitch ... of course there does. Because this is a romance novel after all. But it was more than that. 

Besides its satirical treatment of our trend- and technology obsessed world, and the difficulty making genuine connections with people both personally and professionally, there was an underlying feminist message. Ursula has a strong, supportive best friend who both calls her on her shit and celebrates her zany nature; and Ursula herself is a boss to a young woman who she tirelessly champions in the workplace and looks for opportunities to reward. And Ursula doesn't need a partner, she just freely acknowledges that she wants one, and a baby, and a family, without having a sense of "emptiness" with her life as it is. She has friends, and hobbies and a career. She isn't incomplete when she meets Rafael, she just wants someone to share the ride of life with. I also liked that the conflict in the relationship wasn't based on a slender thread of a stupid misunderstanding, amplified to create drama, but on real-life differences that could cause many couples to wonder whether they want to same things. 

And then thrown in there, the intriguing factor of The Arc methodology and the questions it raises: is there a "perfect" person out there for everyone? Can a good relationship be designed, if you just know the right ingredients? And can true love be made, or does it have to happen organically? It was fun watching the characters grapple with these questions that most of us--coupled, and uncoupled--have at one time or another considered for ourselves. A fun, quick listen. 

Audiobook note: the narrator nailed it. She had a tongue-in-cheek, almost glib manner that captured the spirit of the book and the funny flirtatiousness of the couple. Her female and male voices were distinct and identifiable for each character and didn't come across as campy, which can sometimes happen when someone is voicing characters of the opposite sex simultaneously. Recommended for a fun, lighthearted, though not shallow listening experience.

My rating:⭑⭑⭑⭑
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I wanted to love this book soooo much. It tried way too hard to be different and I wanted to love the feminist aspect combined with an overview of our capitalistic society and how it interferes with relationships but this wasn’t it for me. Would definitely give the author a second shot though in the future!
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The Arc is certainly interesting read. It is not romance but more into feminism and capital power. For me the topic is quite heavy. I still enjoyed the audiobook. Especially Ursula's struggle to choose between her feminist ideal life and her heart.  I can relate to Ursula's struggle. In this modern, competitive world, one feels so much pressure to be the best. And no room for failure.
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Sadly, this one was just not for me. I felt that the author was trying too hard to create a romance novel with a unique storyline. It just was not something I could get into. The Arc was a strange concept and I would not recommend it.
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Sadly, this book just didn't work for me. I really wanted to like it. I thought it had a good premise, but the execution just didn't work.
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How much would you spend to guarantee true love? 
I had to suspend belief a bit to imagine that anyone would pay $50,000 to find their perfect match through a dating service, but once I was introduced to both Ursula and Rafael, I was there for it.  I love all the sciency things, so I  enjoyed reading the weeklong vetting process where they checked in to The Arc with no access to the outside world.  I thought it was a smart, funny satire on the process of finding one’s soulmate.  And I loved the audiobook.
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This is Match.com for wealthy entitled people who are over dating and want to meet their forever partners, because who doesn’t have the cost of a luxury car laying around to do so?  The real question is, no matter how many professionals are involved and assessments are made, even if the compatibility is right on paper, can they predict true love and chemistry? I didn’t love the main female characters.  It felt they were more concerned with status and meeting someone of “their ilk, up to their standards” than actual real love.  The concept was really fun and thought provoking and the writing was held me, but it wasn’t an easy book for me to finish.
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*received for free from netgalley for honest review* Don't normally read romance but this sounded pretty cool so went for it, it did take me a bit longer than normal to read since i didn't read it in one go but it was still pretty good overall.
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The Arc follows Ursula, VP of Strategic Audacity at the Anonymous marketing/branding firm in New York, is part of a women's feminist and 'wellness' club called The Stake and is severely single. She loves her job, as she says, and her life, but still wishes to be able to share it with someone. In comes The Arc, a relationship architecture program that uses a complex series of emotional, practical, psychological and physiological elements of the participant's body and mind to find their 'perfect match', and one that costs $50,000 ($45,000 for women because of the accounted for wage gap). Ursula is paired with Raphael and they hit it off immediately, feeling that they are so in sync and completely complimentary of one another. But as their relationship unfolds, they are faced with the idea that love is never a sure thing, and that The Arc's optimization plan may not be what they thought. 

So I have a lot to say about this book. Okay, how do I start? I think the premise of this book had promise. While this is something that has been done before, whether by Black Mirror (Hang the DJ is one of my fav episodes too) or in The One by John Marrs (TV adaptation on Netflix), I think the idea of finding someone that is intrinsically 'perfect' for you is an interesting concept, one that opens up a really good dialogue. And I think this book did try to do that, in really saying that no matter how exact this person is for you, the very basis of relationships, the highs and lows and the true defining characteristics of individuals, play into the orchestration and maintenance of love, partnership and what it really means to choose your person. 

However, I think this conversation ended up being continuously so damn overshadowed by the highly zeitgeist-y, millennial (yet gen-z??) writing and characterization. At some points, you're like yeah okay, shes shaping this hyper-saturated capitalistic world that we do live in today, and you think that the author is going to be satirical in its expression, pointing out the flaws of this mentality but no, it takes itself so seriously and I was sitting there thinking, are these people serious? Like The Stake, this wellness club for women, made the idea of self-care so comically unworthy of being taken seriously, having a smash centre to break plates, crying rooms and scream dens that you would book a time for, or the hush brushing where a woman brushes your hair and whispers things in your ears to feel better. Had the author really dug into the satirical nature of these things then I would have thought wow this is hilarious, but it ended up feeling like the reader was being made fun of, and not the world of the narrative that should have been. 

Also, and I said this in one of my reading updates, the concept of the Arc being so expensive was so confusing to me. The Arc is saying that we have matched someone perfect for you, but within our database, meaning that serendipity worked in your favour that this particular person who equally had the funds to participate, must be your soulmate based on our findings. People can find their person anywhere, whether its close to home or completely on the other side of the world, but this idea assumed that no, this person is just two boroughs away and they just so happened to be able to join the Arc as well = match made in heaven! That really irked me to no end. 

I also really didn't care for any of the characters and found that the writing was overly descriptive and dragging in some parts, and in others, where it would really matter to extend the ideas, it was just cut short and afforded another cultural reference or buzz concept. It felt overly 'woke' in the sense that everything was so surface level and the author included it to sound smart and biting and over-encompassing. It's one thing to use current issues and concepts in meaningful discussion with your characters and readers, but throwing them out just to say that you did felt so shallow. 

Overall, I really was not a fan of this and I wish I was because I was really excited to read it. I think it could have done so much with the concept and the raised ideas but it became too focused on creating such an uncritiqued world that all the good parts were lost to the reader. 

Thank you NetGalley and St.Martin's press for this audio ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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In today's NYC, everything is optimized. From your toilet paper purchasing to booking travel, there's a startup looking to use data to perfect the process and make your life easier. The Arc aims to do the same thing for your love life. For the hefty price tag of $40-50k, the Arc intensely studies everything about you for seven full days, from your blood type to your sleeping positions to how you react to and remember the last full moon, to find your exact perfect match. They've never had a failed relationship.

Ursula Byrne is a 35-year-old "Head of Strategic Audacity" at branding company that serves startups. She's almost given up on love after going through too many stops and starts in her dating life. She decides to sign up for the Arc. Rafael Banks is a 42-year-old lawyer who's experienced intense heartbreak in his past relationships. He also decides to sign up for the Arc.

Ursula and Rafael are matched with each other, and their relationship begins to blossom beautifully - the two are perfect for each other in many ways. But every relationship has its ups and downs, even one that's been optimized for success, happiness, and long-term outcomes. When natural discord arises in their relationship, Ursula and Rafael feel almost betrayed by the Arc and the promise that their coupling would be conflict-free. Both of them, especially Ursula, begin to have doubts about other certainties in their lives, like Ursula's career and ultimate purpose in life, which sows additional doubts and anxieties for the couple to deal with.

The book primarily tracks Ursula and Rafael's "relationship arc" over the course of about a year. It's not dystopian or alternate-tech fiction at all - it takes place in today's modern-day NYC, where a service like this could very well already exist. It's hard to call it a romance, because I didn't fall in love with the characters or their love story as I would in a typical romance book. It's also somewhat of a drama, because although the couple has a lot of happy moments, there are a lot of fights and discord between them too. Unfortunately, I just wasn't rooting for them as a couple - a lot of their chemistry felt manufactured, and I just didn't get that "spark" that the author probably intended.

My main gripe with the writing style is that it did a lot more "telling" rather than "showing." At the beginning of the book, you learn about Ursula simply through her telling her life story over the course of a chapter. She tells the reader about her likes and dislikes, her weirdness, and her relationship history. It just seemed like a shortcut to the reader getting to know Ursula via watching her live for a while - instead, you just get all of her background dumped on you. I will say that some of Ursula and Rafael's fights were really well written - they felt like real conflict, real arguments between a couple, with both sides thinking one thing and saying another, showing their past trauma and insecurities, and arguing about fundamental issues that threaten their structure.

Overall, I have mixed feelings about this book - I thought the premise was fascinating and the execution was good, but at the end of the day, it felt unmemorable. What was it really trying to say? It doesn't seem like the kind of book that will stick with me or have a lasting impression, and I didn't love the characters enough for this to be a strong romance in my mind.
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This one reminded me a tiny bit of The Soulmate Equation with the scientific approach to love. I was super interested by the concept, but overall the book/relationship kind of just dragged on and on for me. I didn't really like either of the main characters and as I was reading, I actually realized I didn't even want them to end up together. The end twist just wasn't enough for me.
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This was such a fun read. I really enjoyed these characters and the concept behind them meeting. It’s always so interesting seeing how something this crazy can bring a romantic side to a story. I had such a great time reading this book. 

I have read many romances before and I’m so glad I can I actually enjoyed this one. Sometimes romances can get very cheesy but this one was not the case. 

Such a solid romance!
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3.5 This book felt like real housewives meets sex in the city it was overtop and ridiculous but I could not put it down. This story follows Ursula as she try to juggle her high pressure job and finding love after many failures with dating apps Ursula is about to give up when she is recommended a new dating service The Arc a dating service that makes you stay at there headquarters for a week to find out everything they can about you to find the perfect match all with a price tag for 49500 dollars. We also follow Rafael a lawyer who had many long term relationships but never found the one he also decides to go to The Arc to try to find his true love.
Once the two are matched it’s love at first sight they seem perfect together. This is until they go in for a checkup and tell about a disagreement they had about adopting a dog The Arc went back and looked at there results and realized they made a mistake a mistake that will doom their relationship. 
I really enjoyed this book it was crazy over the top and eye roll inducing but I could not put it down. This book follows rich people that have so much money spend it on the weirdest things like a feminist health club that offers services such as crying pods strange messages and crazy beauty treatments. It felt like when I watch real housewives and I continually roll my eyes at the crazy stuff they get into. The romance though was a little annoying it felt like the conflict was blown out of proportion. I also felt this book was a little pretentious at times and thought it was being smarter than it was but I still enjoyed it. I listed to the audiobook and enjoyed the narrator she made me laugh out loud at many moments. I don’t think I would have enjoyed this book as much if I had physically read it. I would like to thank Netgalley and the publishers for an opportunity to read this book for an honest review.
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Clever in some ways but maybe not as captivating as I had hoped. 

What did work was the dialogue and the chemistry! That’s what kept me going when the plot lost me a bit!

I think those who loved Christina Lauren’s The Soulmate Equation may be drawn to this one but I think they’ll be disappointed in the end! The humour was certainly less universal!

Thank you to the publisher for a copy in exchange of an honest review!
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"The Arc" is a romance novel and is the debut novel of author, Tory Henwood-Hoen. It was released on February 8th of this year. 
If you would like to purchase "The Arc" you can find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can follow the author, Tory Henwood-Hoen, on Instagram and Goodreads! You can also check out her website!
Thank you Macmillan Audio, Tory Henwood-Hoen, and Netgalley for sending me this audio Advanced Copy in exchange for an honest review. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed throughout this review are my own. 

35-year-old Ursula Byrne, VP of Strategic Audacity at a branding agency in Manhattan, is successful, witty, whip-smart, and single. She's tried all the dating apps, and let's just say: she's underwhelmed by her options. You'd think that by now someone would have come up with something more bespoke; a way for users to be more tailored about who and what they want in a life partner--how hard could that be?
Enter The Arc: a highly secretive, super-sophisticated matchmaking service that uses a complex series of emotional, psychological and physiological assessments to architect partnerships that will go the distance. The price tag is high, the promise ambitious--a level of lifelong compatibility that would otherwise be unattainable. In other words, The Arc will find your ideal mate.
Ursula is paired with 42-year-old lawyer Rafael Banks. From moment one, this feels like the electric, lasting love they've each been seeking their whole adult lives. But as their relationship unfolds in unanticipated ways, the two begin to realize that true love is never a sure thing. And the arc of a relationship is never predictable...even when it's fully optimized.

I gave this one 3.5 stars on Goodreads. This was a fiction audiobook that I struggled to fully get into. I don't know if my luck would have been better had I actually read this book. I liked the concept, but the actual book kind of fell flat to me. I didn't connect to the main character at all. 
There was some jokes that landed with me, but others were pretty bad and unfunny. 
There are other books that are similar enough to this one in theme, "The Love Hypothesis" or "The Soulmate Equation", which I found to be more enjoyable.
I would revisit the idea of reading another book by this author in the future, though!
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I really enjoyed this audiobook one of the better narrators I have listened to in a while.  I loved the eclectic writing, eccentric characters, and unique concept. I enjoyed the characters and the unusual beginning of their love story. The amount of conflict they had to handle throughout their relationship made it feel more realistic and I connected more with the characters. Ursula was a TREAT of a character, at some points she could be incredibly annoying but she grew on me. I appreciated the wrap-up of this story. My only complaint was it was VERY long and I did not like how some chapters were a 1 hr and the next 8 minutes making some parts of the story drag.
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This took a bit of a slow start, but after initially reading the description, I knew I needed to power through and get to the good stuff. Once Ursula is introduced to the concept of the Arc, my interest piqued and I really started to become intrigued with the process of the Arc and Ursula's journey. After Ursula is paired, I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop the entire time. I just had a feeling things would go wrong and of course they did. I was really rooting for Ursula and Rafael and somehow knew that belonged together despite what the Arc was telling them. I was so angry when they decided to go through with the emotional detachment procedure because I was sure they were making a huge mistake. As their journey progressed, I began to feel sad for the characters, only to feel completely elated by the ending few characters. The last few pages of the book were absolutely perfect and I did not see it coming at all. I thought this was such an interesting concept and completely unique to any other book I've ever read. I thought the characters were relatable and compelling and I would love to see a follow up with these characters. 

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 8.5/10 rounded up to 5 stars
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