Cancelled by Elizabeth Ann West has some problems, but it is a quick, easy read that often contains enough intrigue to keep a reader skimming through the pages. It’s the story of Johnathon, a twenty-seven-year-old robotics engineer who has finally started a relationship with his best friend and business partner, Alexis. But then Kellie, a one-night stand from his past, shows up and announces that she is pregnant with his baby. Johnathon must figure out what to do about Kellie and Alexis while also dealing with work concerns and family drama.
The novel is very dialogue-heavy, giving it a sit-com feel that is both familiar and easy-to-read. The dialogue becomes tedious at times, however, because information the readers already know is often repeated in conversation. Because of this, you can often skip entire pages and still know exactly what’s going on. There are also several scenes in which the characters discuss business and robotics, and these techie-type conversations did not seem to have anything to do with the plot and perhaps should have been cut.
The novel is told from Johnathon’s point of view, which is unique for a contemporary romance book, but often the narration hops into the minds of other characters. Occasionally we know what Alexis, or Jonathon’s step-mother, or Johnathon’s best friend is thinking. We even sometimes hear the thoughts of minor characters, such as a social worker who appears in one scene. It might make a tighter and more sophisticated story if the point-of-view was solidly limited to Johnathan’s.
Of course, Johnathan is rather unlikeable: he is extremely selfish and pompous. Instead of rooting for him, I found myself dismayed with his arrogant and self-righteous attitudes. It might have been more satisfying if he had changed or had a realization throughout the course of the novel, but he didn’t seem to. The women in the story aren’t much better. They are portrayed as materialistic and manipulative, and although Kellie seems to have a transformation during the book, her characterization doesn’t always seem believable.
In fact, I had a hard time believing a lot of the characters’ actions, and the arguments between them sometimes seem overly dramatic. I also had a hard time picturing the main characters since they were never adequately described. I assumed Alexis was Hispanic because her last name is Rodriquez, but this wasn’t confirmed until late in the novel, and even then I was never given much of a physical description except that she is beautiful. Johnathon is described as handsome – but in what way? Kellie is described as young with dyed blonde hair, but I could have used more description than that, especially as her body changes with the pregnancy.
I never did figure out why this book is called Cancelled, but West came up with a good situation and clearly climbed the ladder towards a climax. Her characters, dialogue, and narration could use some work, and the book is littered with typos. Additionally, the ending should be foreshadowed earlier in the novel, but I do think there is an audience for Cancelled as it is. People who like sit-coms, baby-mama-drama, and heated conversations, may enjoy this quick read.
About the Author: Eva Langston
Eva Langston received her MFA in fiction writing from The University of New Orleans, and her fiction has been published in The Normal School, The Sand Hill Review, and The GW Review, among others. She won 3rd place in the Playboy fiction contest in 2010 and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2011. Currently she is taking time off from her job as a high school math teacher to focus on writing. She works part-time as a tutor, a wine promoter, and a bar trivia host.