Cover Image: Ruthless Positivity

Ruthless Positivity

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This book follows Kam and Lyle as they "escape" into a virtual world called eScape. I feel that for this book being about virtual reality and living in two worlds, it was hard to decipher between if they were living in eScape or the real world. Too much problems merging into both. I understand that the characters of the book specifically Kam is going through grief of tragically losing her father but did we really need to read about how it happened more than once? We already have a picture of what happened and how sick he was, we didn't need to have explained over and over. Redeeming quality of this book is making and what that means to the characters. I think it's interesting to think about the different masks were wear in order to hide our true selves or even just aspects of ourselves. I believe Kam and Lyle help take each others mask off. But also at the same time their connection is very intense for it being so instant. Cheesy ending.

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It’s … ugh… a “fine” story. I mean you know this plot already. Find and replace about 5 nouns and this could be a historical fiction, modern romance or in this case, slightly sci-fi.
The characters aren’t developed at all, and they certainly aren’t likeable.
Where I might have tolerated this story line years ago, it’s 2024! We can’t add books about young adults with severe trauma and untreated mental disorders suddenly being “fixed” because they finally hookup with the person they adore/worship/fantasise about.
If you like this, you might like The Prince and The Apocalypse better. It has much more likeable and well rounded characters, but same dangerous treatment of mental health.

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Kam is terminally ill and lives in a rundown home often thought of as a hovel by others. Lyle is tortured by his mother’s manipulation s. His mother is the self-help guru, Julie Grace. Lyle must act the way his mother expects him to. For him , he feels he can’t be his true self. He decides to go on escape a virtual world. Lyle does this in secret — no one must know. Lyle wants to be his true self. Kam steals credits from others so she can be on eScape and have everything she wants. She is beautiful, “a body that works,” gorgeous rich friends and more. Kam and Lyle meet each other on eScape. They become friends. Will they tell each other their secrets? If they do, what will happen? Will they fall in love?

The author has written a science fiction thriller. It is a novel that made me think about virtual worlds. I don’t honestly know if I would participate in one. It has its pluses but also it can be negative too. I am glad that I got to read this book. If you like reading science fiction, read this!

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What am interesting book idea. Being trapped in a digital world and to get out you have to trust those around you to escape. Because the internet is a fickle place and when are you supposed to believe what you read on the internet…?

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I embarked on this book without any prior knowledge, and I can confidently say that I have absolutely no regrets.
The plot of this book is truly unlike anything I've encountered before. The characters are richly layered and exceptionally well-developed. My attention was effortlessly ensnared, and from the moment I started reading, I knew it would be impossible to tear myself away. Admittedly, my husband might have missed a meal or two, but at least I didn't forget to feed the dog!

I have a recommendation for everyone, regardless of whether you typically gravitate towards thrillers: read this book. It's an experience you won't want to miss.

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Avery Blake, Sterling and Stone, and NetGalley for introducing me to what has swiftly become one of my all-time favorite books!

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Reader be warned: the synopsis of this book is much more intriguing than the story that is actually told. It does not deliver on the dust-jacket promises.

The premise is the well trod story of misunderstood and privileged boy meets outcast girl who is hiding her true self to fit in. The instantly fall in love, but the boy's mom is ultra controlling and the girl is worried the boy will discover she is playing pretend and leave her. The boy's mom is ultimately defeated and the boy accepts the girl for who she is and they live happily ever after. Think "Aladdin" but reverse the gender roles, the setting is a virtual reality as a plot device, oh and instead of charming most of the characters are extremely cringe-worthy.

I had no expectations for Ruthless Positivity when I started reading it. It is categorized under Science Fiction and Mystery/Thriller. I read the description and thought that it fits in with my general tastes. Apparently I do not have a taste for poor storytelling.

Right off the bat, the characters feel flat. You do not experience their lives through actions, dialogue or emotions. Their motivations are shallow and predictable. You are not immersed in the setting. You are told exactly what you need to know and how a character feels, over and over again.

The main female character, Kam, resents her rich, stuck-up, and vain friends. Why? Because the author explains to you that she does because they are rich, stuck-up and vain. The author also tells you that they idolize the self-help guru Julia Grace and her Ruthless Positivity program and therefore Kam hates them. Their interactions are superficial and all of this is explained through the running monologue of Kam's inner thoughts. You do not see or experience Kam's struggles to fit in, or later her fear of Lyle (the main male character) finding out that she is criminal, or even much later her fear and shame of Lyle finding out that she is (supposedly) dying. You are told all of this information, repetitively.

The characters are also some of the least likeable characters I've ever read. The character traits (which you are told about) are not redeeming qualities, even in the protagonists. Kam is a straight-up stalker, but it's ok because she's the only one who has ever/will ever understand Lyle. Lyle is delusional and does not stand up for his morals, but that's ok because his mother has emotionally abused him and taken advantage of him his entire life. Julia Grace - the actual villain of the story - is ruthless (ha), abusive, a murderer, incestuous, [insert evil thing here], etc, but that's ok because she gets what's coming to her in the end. Even with some of the just terrible character traits, the author could have still created an interesting dynamic between all of the characters if they hadn't been so flat and boring. The mother was so evil that there was no tension. Kam being a stalker and a thief could have been interesting if you discovered those traits through her interactions, or if they had any impact on the relationship between herself and Lyle - but they didn't. There was a particular scene with Lyle when he is "caught" with Kam by his mother and his ex-girlfriend and he acts like he doesn't know who she is, but Kam just inner-monologues that she's hurt by it but she still loves him anyway because she is the only person who has ever understood him. Where there should have been emotional punches, there were none because there was no tension, no build-up, no stakes, no mystery.

Finally, the virtual reality setting of the eScape is strictly there for plot convenience. Sometimes it is hard to tell if they are in VR or if they are in the real world because there is hardly any difference unless the plot requires there to be a difference. They even use mobile phones in VR. There is no imagination that went into the setting. There are Sims houses and Minecraft maps that are more creative than the eScape. I didn't expect a lot of world-building out of a book like this, but even just a little would have been appreciated.

Mostly, I think I just feel very disappointed in story. The dust-jacket pitch illustrates that the story has potential, but the execution was abysmal. Even though I ended up skimming a good portion of this book because it was so repetitive, I still feel like I wasted my time. I would recommend that other readers avoid this particular book, and look elsewhere for a good VR novel with a love story.

Thank you to NetGalley and publisher Sterling & Stone for providing a digital review copy of Ruthless Positivity in exchange for my honest review.

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This book was based on a life that I would have never imagined. I found it extremely enjoyable

Thanks Sterling & Stone for the opportunity to review this book

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Thank you to the author Avery Blake, publishers Sterling & Stone, and as always NetGalley, for an advance digital copy of ᴀ ʀᴜᴛʜʟᴇss ᴘᴏsɪᴛɪᴠɪᴛʏ. All opinions are mine.

A Romeo and Juliet for a new age, a story of forbidden love between two young people with too much in common: both hiding from the other every important detail about their own identities.

Hiding behind their virtual selves, Kam and Lyle maneuver their AI world to keep seeing each other, and the real worlds in which they can never meet in order to survive, and the political world that rules both AI and real worlds, trying to build a resistance to the rampant wealth disparaty.

Much of the setting and story reflects a ghostly image of the contemporary nonfictional world, making the stakes feel higher to this reader. That's good, because the storyline is convoluted and hard to follow in places. There's quite a bit of discussion about the story world's politics and societal unrest.

This was a pretty good book. I picked this one up because of the cover, which is creepy, and the title, ʀᴜᴛʜʟᴇss ᴘᴏsɪᴛɪᴠɪᴛʏ. I like going into books completely blind, so I didn't read the blurb or any reviews, but I was expecting something completely different from what I found. I still don't really understand why Blake decided to title the book this way. Perhaps it was the publisher?

A good story, but not what I was looking for.

Rating: 🕶🕶🕶.5 / 5 VR glasses
Recommend? If you like scifi revolution stories, yes
Finished: July 5 2023
Format: Digital review copy, NetGalley
Read this if you like:
🖥 Tech scifi
🎭 Shakespeare
🐈‍⬛ The Matrix
❤️‍🔥 Forbidden love

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Ruthless Positivity is a funny, engaging, and refreshing read that delves into the realm of virtual escapism. The book explores the concept of being someone else and raises thought-provoking questions about the consequences of our choices. With enjoyable writing and likable yet flawed characters, the story presents challenging situations and a unique storyline. This well-written sci-fi thriller with relatable characters offers a superbly crafted and entertaining experience. Ruthless Positivity is a must-read that exceeds expectations and transcends genre boundaries. Many thanks to Netgalley for introducing me to this captivating book.

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If I were a late teens/early twenties reader, this book would have held my attention much longer. It definitely reads like a YA thriller: adults too old to be saved from their evil ways, teens hold all hope for the future. The romance was slightly *cringe* but again, maybe it's an age thing. Thanks for the opportunity to read and review!

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What a funny, complex, engaging read. It explores a subject matter that will soon play out on the world stage. The writing was enjoyable, the characters were likeable, and the situations were challenging. This was a fun read and one that comes highly recommended.


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This book is essentially a YA romance novel with sci-fi elements in it. It has an interesting take on the effects of virtual reality in the near future and does make you think. But the dynamics and interactions between Kam and Lyle seemed too high-school-teenager vibes and I personally couldn't relate. But it's a fast and interesting read. If you go into it expecting a sci-fi thriller you'll be sorely disappointed. I think I would recommend this to a younger audience.
Thankyou to NetGalley and the publishers/author for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for this review copy

Very good dystopian thriller. I am excited to read more by this author

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Ruthless Positivity is a standalone dystopian SF thriller by Avery Blake. Released 22nd Aug 2022 by Sterling & Stone, it's 233 pages and is available in ebook format. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

This is a dystopian relatively near future techy-romance SF thriller. Throughout the book, the undeniably talented author takes swipes at superficiality, the interchangeable masks we use to interact with one another, and the relentless pressure for perfection imposed by social media (despite not being remotely achievable or truthful). On another level, it's a vaguely Romeo and Juliet pastiche with some of the supporting characters played by AI-entities instead of Friar and Nurse. (Don't prejudge the plot or the denouement and resolution; it's a pastiche, not a copy).

I would have called this a NA/YA romance, but there are some rough parts which might not be appropriate for young(ish) readers. The language is R-rated with liberal use of rugged Anglo-Saxon monosyllables (especially f*ck).

Three and a half stars. An interesting take on reality and social interaction, and a quick read.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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A story that's never been told before, it was so refreshing to read a unique storyline! I loved this book, loved the characters despite their flaws. Highly recommend!

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After a while I found myself speed-reading, my interest had already dropped somewhere below zero. The author throws around a lot of big words, a lot of talk that made no sense to me. The ending was quite predictable and I was really glad when I finally reached 100 %.
The story had so much potential but the execution was messy. All the talk about money and what one is supposed to be like. So much hate and negativity even if the book is supposed to be positive, even a fake positive. Sorry, I probably didn’t get the point, and I am ok with that.

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I really struggled to get through this book which is sad because I really liked this book based off its description.. The first 10 pages did pull me in and I loved the introduction we got to the world but towards the middle of the book it got really boring. The less than appealing characters did not leap off the page enough for me. Although I was surprised by the romance in the book it too wasn't entertaining enough for me. Ruthless Positivity felt like a cross between Scientology and a self-help cult. I think it would have been much more interesting if there was more focus on Kam and how she gained her high tech talents. Instead, the story was more YA soap opera than an SF novel. 2.5 stars

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Ruthless Positivity by Avery Blake is a great thriller! I loved the plot and the characters. The ending was really nicely done.

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Not my cup of tea.
The beginning was ok, but I had higher hopes. Overall I was bored and struggled to even want to continue.

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Escapism into the virtual, been around in many versions and here is an entertaining tale for our digital age. What if you could be who you want to be instead of who you are? What if you could be there forever?

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