Thursday, 28 January 2016

Review: A Year of Losing the Dating Game - Samantha Bye

When I was deciding what to read whilst travelling, I knew I wanted to mix things up a little, and not just stick to my usual fiction choices. Plus, I'd read (and loved) Lena Dunham's Not that Kind of Girl in the summer and was keen to find some more non-fiction/ memoir/ anecdotal style books. 

I came across A Year of Losing the Dating Game when reading a review of it on someone’s blog, and it seemed like a light-hearted and funny read, to break up the accumulation of slightly melancholic fiction I had collected. 

First things first, this book is not about dating. At least not in the conventional sense. Perhaps I'm naive, but I expected the book to be an account of Samantha Bye's dates for a year, meeting new people, going out with some and having some very awkward but hilarious encounters. Maybe mine and Bye's idea of dating is just very different, but the entire book was about successfully being a player, and there was not one episode that I would have labelled as a date. A Year of Losing the Dating Game is essentially just a diary of one girl's Plenty of Fish and Tinder conquests for a year, with no real dating involved. Now don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with this, and it still had the potential to be an interesting and funny read, but I found so many of Bye's attitudes problematic, from hypocrisy to undeniably racist comments. 

To say I didn't enjoy the book would be an understatement, and as much as I wanted to stop reading and throw the pages into the Straights of Melaka (okay, I was reading it on my kindle, but you get the point), I persevered until the end so that I could write a fair review. 

My first problem with the book was the amount of moaning, and I mean moaning with no real cause to moan. From the outset Samantha Bye determines her happiness on the results of her conquests, and then wonders why she is miserable when a guy stops replying on Plenty of Fish or she doesn't have multiple 'dates' set up each week. If you let the actions of strangers determine your happiness then of course you're setting yourself up for misery. That's not to mention that a lot of these strangers are on these sites for one thing and one thing only, and really don't care about hurting your feelings. 

One episode which highlights this point is Bye's breakdown in the middle of the book, when she realises the guy she has been seeing is clearly a lazy and inconsiderate *insert expletive of your choice*. I mean, she says from the beginning that he is all of the above, but still continues to pursue him. And can we also address the fact that she has only met this guy a few times, but spends chapters moaning about how terrible a person he is.

Another factor that really irritated me was Bye's astounding hypocrisy. Her own conquest is to be a successful player, yet any guy who plays her is a worthless human being. She frequently ignores guys’ messages when she gets bored, but cries about it when it happens to her. And worst of all she continually refers to herself as overweight but then out-rightly states that she can't stand 'fat' guys and won't go on dates with them. What happened to treating those as you want to be treated? Or just being a decent person?

And it gets worse, one guy Bye starts talking to tells her that he hates (apologies for having to write this) 'pakis'. So of course in this instance you stop talking to the idiot and probably block him too? Nope. She continues to talk to him and puts it down as an odd comment, as if he'd just admitted to having an unusual hobby. No further comment needed. 

Rather than name the guys she speaks to, Samantha Bye gives them a label, like ‘Mr Conversation’. To add to her casual racism, she refers to one guy as Mr Half Indian. She also makes some disgusting comments about someone she meets who she presumes to have special needs, which I definitely don’t need to repeat.

By this point I was truly fed up with the book, but I'm going to finish off with one final thing that bemused me about Samantha Bye and her stories: at various points throughout the book she sleeps with people even when the thought of it makes her physically sick. And as if vomiting isn't bad enough, she congratulates herself afterwards for getting through the act.

I was willing to give this book the benefit of the doubt when I realised it wasn't exactly what I thought it would be, but things deteriorated fast.

If you’ve read A Year of Losing the Dating Game I would love to know what you thought, so please let me know in the comments!


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