Ash's (the main character) love interest, Darian is what they call an Essex (in England) boy. As such, he speaks with an accent, a heavy accent. Ash, the main character, is a much more... refined sort and the class difference is one of the big stumbling blocks to these fellows' happiness. But for God's sake, readers aren't stupid, they don't need to be hit over the head, over and over and over, with one of those huge cartoon hammers. That's what it felt like every time that Darian opened his mouth to speak. And when we had scenes with his friends and nan? *facepalm* Nearly incomprehensible on the first read. I lost count of the times I had to reread a section of dialogue to understand what the boy was saying. I even resorted to reading it out loud to try and understand. And maybe it's the 8 year-old that lives inside of me, but deep, emotional passages with the word 'fink' repeated over and over again just made me giggle.
The thing is, Alexis Hall has told a wonderful story here. The characters are excellently drawn with flaws and wounds that people have suffered from since the beginning of time. I do not suffer from depression, but the picture that Alexis drew of Ash's illness seemed real and tangible to me and maybe I gained a little more understanding of something I have never experienced first hand. Darian could easily come across as too good to be true, the street urchin with the tragic past but the stoic heart of gold and positive outlook. You know... Annie-like. But he really is charming and sweet and yeah, I do know people like that. Not many, but they do exist. My mom was like that.
And the romance! It was lovely to watch it unfold and even the heart-breaking parts of it were so human, so real, that they were lovely too. BUT THE DAMNED OVERWHELMING DIALOGUE... it pulled me out of the story every time. And it could have so easily been rectified. I don't know, maybe for a UK audience this is normal, but I'm in Canada and it was far too much for me. Pick a word or two and just use those.
The story is written from a first person POV so the differences could have so easily been shown in Ash's reactions and inner musings. Readers will remember all through the book that this divide exists between Ash and Darian (and his friends) and I think Alexis Hall is a good enough writer to pull that off. So in the end, I was disappointed and thrilled at the same time. I loved everything about this book except for the dreaded dialect dialogue - the DDD - and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a bittersweet but ultimately happy read, with the caveat that the DDD could be problematic.
I have Alexis Hall's Iron and Velvet which comes out in December on my wishlist and I am crossing my fingers that there will be no such tidal wave of unreadable DDD in it.