The Friend Scheme by Cale Dietrich: A Review

“Something is going on here. Right? Or maybe I just really want that to be the case. Ugh. I just wish I knew what he wants.”

Oh boy, I wanted to like this one. I really, really, REALLY wanted to like this one. The Love Interest was one of my favorite reads from last year, it was silly and stupid and so much fun. I had high hopes for The Friend Scheme, but my expectations were not met even slightly. I always feel guilty giving negative reviews, especially when I like the author overall, so buckle up as I attempt to write down my cohesive thoughts, albeit negative.

I feel a little bit bad for the timing of this release- it’s a love story between a cop’s son and a gangster’s son, the cop’s son being a white kid and the gangster’s being a black one. It felt a little tone deaf because of that, which was hard. I couldn’t shake the feeling of the #ownvoices marketing, when it was just a white gay guy who was writing from the perspective of a black kid who was raised in a criminal empire. Though, this isn’t really me wanting to cause any massive problems, just something that didn’t sit well with me as I was reading.

Overall, a lot of the elements of Cale Dietrich’s writing style that I loved in The Love Interest really didn’t come into play in this book. The characters had very little chemistry, and a lot of the relationships and emotions were spoonfed to the reader. Despite being a high action premise, there was no palpable suspense for me. I had a hard time caring about the characters or the dynamics because the world seemed to be just cookie cutter cliches piled on top of each other. I think if Dietrich had gone the satirical route, like he’d done in The Love Interest, he could’ve made me enjoy the world and it’s plastic appearance a little more, but the book seems like it wants me to find real, hard-hitting feelings in this book where I can’t find any.

I will say that I’m still a big fan of Dietrich’s general sense of humor, and the chapter titles were endearing. If you don’t like this book, don’t write off Cale Dietrich just yet- you might love The Love Interest.

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