A Virtual Love – Andrew Blackman

It is a little bit disconcerting to read a book in which social media platforms play such a major role. It almost feels like they are characters themselves, keeping the humans hooked with the invisible threads of addiction, playing on their insecurities.

AVL The story is broken down in chapters, each told from the first person perspective, with each character giving voice to their own perception on things. The virtual world is their playground – a façade where they can be and do anything they want. There’s Jeff Brennan, who assumes the identity of a famous blogger with the same name, then there’s his friend Marcus who plays an important role in the outcome of things, and Marie, a beautiful lonely girl whose romantic failures ultimately lead her to the biggest failure of all.
They belong to the new generation, that of people addicted to the instant gratification of online socializing, whose success is measured in how many Facebook friends requests they manage to gather, or how many comments they get on their profiles.
Making a rather interesting contrast is Jeff’s grandfather, an old man who spends his days caring for his invalid wife, and who eagerly awaits each Sunday visit of his grandson. He belongs to the generation of rituals and handwritten notes, of conversations at tea time, of gardens and sunshine and of enjoying the small pleasures of life. He loves his grandson, but their inability to connect was quite painful to see – they belong to different worlds, and as each tries to give the other a glimpse of their own space, they fail, making each new attempt more difficult than the last. There is however, a brief moment when they almost meet, a crucial point where there seemed to be some hope for their troubled relationship. The worlds collide but the inhabitants retreat, having failed to establish any meaningful connection. The moment is lost, and it can’t be brought back again. But the old man hasn’t lost hope. He spends his days creating something he hopes to leave his grandson, something that maybe will help mend the breach between them, or at least give the young man another perspective on life, one that is stripped of the falseness of what he has become. What he couldn’t accomplish in real-life conversation, he hopes to achieve with the help of written words.

The end was quite different from what I expected – that’s always a good thing but in this case it also made me feel sad. The web of lies that each character spins, their inability to say what they really feel make them inhabitants of an imaginary world they can’t seem to be able to leave, trapped in their own fantasies.
My favorite chapters were the ones narrated by the grandfather. He lives in a real world, a tangible one, where time is measured by the rhythmic sounds of the old clock, where routine is welcome and where the love he shows his wife is enough to occupy his days. He is content. He is happy. He is real. He is the reason I would like to re-read this book again someday.


This is the first book I’ve read in electronic format. While I still prefer the paper copy, I admit this experience was better than I expected. There was that one brief moment when my reader froze (and I with it!) but thankfully a quick restart solved the problem.
Many thanks to author Andrew Blackman and his publisher Legend Press for providing me with a copy.

*Read in March 2013

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9 Responses to A Virtual Love – Andrew Blackman

  1. Vishy says:

    After a long wait, it is wonderful to read a new review on ‘Postcards from Asia’. Welcome back, Delia 🙂 Enjoyed reading your review. The book looks quite interesting. I love the character of the grandfather. It is interesting that the story has multiple narrators. I am still undecided whether the real world is authentic or the virtual world is, or whether both of them are equally authentic and can coexist. (I know people who post frequently on Facebook because they want more and more ‘likes’ while I also know others who have built real friendships through Facebook and Twitter.) But this is definitely a very contemporary issue with a lot of interesting questions, and it is nice that Andrew’s book tackles this theme. The cover of the book looks quite interesting. I can’t wait for the book to be released on April. So jealous of you that you have already read it 🙂 Thanks for this wonderful review!

    • Delia says:

      Thanks Vishy, it’s good to be back.
      I don’t think the virtual world is bad and the real one is good. There are good and bad things in both of them. It becomes a problem when we spend too much time online and forget to enjoy the real things and when we care too much about what others think and pretend we are in a certain way so that others will like us. That’s sad, and I was a bit frustrated (ok, more than a bit) with the characters for playing this game.

  2. Brian Joseph says:

    As I will be reading this really, really soon I have not actually read your commentary. I tend not to like to read others thoughts as not to inadvertently steal them before I write my comments. I will be back to read once I have read it and written a bit on it.

    • Delia says:

      No problem, Brian, I was actually thinking the same as you but went ahead and read another review anyway. It turns out my thoughts steered in quite another direction. There’s more than one way of looking at things. Who knows what you will see in the story…

      • Brian Joseph says:

        I finished this and have my commentary up.

        Jeff’s Grandfather was indeed a memorable character. I do think that he is more complex then he seems at first glance as he seems to have a surprisingly negative attitude about the whole delayed gratification/hard work mindset.

        How ironic that this was the first book that you read in electronic format.

  3. TBM says:

    This one sounds interesting. It is odd and somewhat scary how social media is so popular all over the world. It has pluses and minuses. I might keep an eye out for this book.

    • Delia says:

      It’s scary indeed, but like you said, it can have its pluses as well. The way it was depicted in this book made it more towards the scary side though, but that”s just because people put so much emphasis on it.
      It’s a quick read and the writing is beautiful and melancholic. It would be great to read more reviews of it, I’m always interested to see different perspectives. I hope you enjoy it if you decide to give this a try.
      I just found out about a giveaway from the author’s website, here’s a LINK if you’d like to enter.

  4. Pingback: Book Review – A Virtual Love by Andrew Blackman | Vishy's Blog

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