Loveless: A Review and Discussion on ‘The One Aroace Experience’

Hey everyone! So, one of my favorite books came out in the United States finally, a few weeks ago, and so in honor of this I wanted to formally write a review of this book on my blog, but not only that, I want to do a little discussion on this book as well. Let’s get into it!

Loveless | Alice Oseman

Published March 1, 2022

432 Pages | Hardcover

Georgia has never been in love, never kissed anyone, never even had a crush – but as a fanfic-obsessed romantic she’s sure she’ll find her person one day.

As she starts university with her best friends, Pip and Jason, in a whole new town far from home, Georgia’s ready to find romance, and with her outgoing roommate on her side and a place in the Shakespeare Society, her ‘teenage dream’ is in sight.

But when her romance plan wreaks havoc amongst her friends, Georgia ends up in her own comedy of errors, and she starts to question why love seems so easy for other people but not for her. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever.

Is she destined to remain loveless? Or has she been looking for the wrong thing all along?

Summary from goodreads

Loveless is a book that means a whole lot to me, and rereading it just made me love it all over again. I got the questioning, the self-doubt, the awesome friendships all over again, and it just reminded me how much I love this book. This is a story of messy teens (first year university students, actually), questioning, and friendship. A whole lot of friendship.

I wanted to zoom in on that word ‘messy’ because I think that is truly the best way to describe these characters, and especially Georgia. There are fights in this book. Georgia does some really awful things, and sometimes her friends do awful things. There are times when you might be worried about the turnout of something, or even frustrated with how Georgia handles things. That’s okay.

Georgia is one of the most relatable characters to me that I have read. I definitely am not a fan of all the same things as she is (I’ve basically never read a fanfic in my life?) but the way she feels about her sexuality and about her friends is just so similar to me. I also want to call out the fact that Loveless highlights self doubt and the feelings that might come with being aroace, at least for some people (obviously, there are so many different aroace experiences). After Georgia first realizes that she may be aroace, and first starts to think about it, she’s just upset and down on herself. We are raised in a world where romance is so highly praised, it’s just everywhere and so often the ‘final goal’ in life. And that can be really hard as an aroace person. Knowing that you’re never going to experience this ‘magical experience’ that everyone else has. Knowing that your friends are going to fall in love and put you second for the rest of your life because everyone just says that romance. Is. Better. To see a character in a book who thinks the same way, and to see a book that actually talks about that? Amazing. I think that often, it can be hard for authors to write books where characters of marginalized identities are down on themselves because of their marginalized identity, since there’s that pressure to show happy people of that identity. Authors don’t want to write a book where a main character just hates their identity because it’s like it reflects that any people of that identity are not happy, when obviously we know that’s not true since everyone has different experiences. But it’s still important to show these things, like being down due to your identity, so that people in the real world who might be experiencing the same things know that they’re not alone in feeling that and often the book can help you get through or at least accept that feeling more.

I also wanted to discuss something I’ve seen pop up in a lot of reviews: the ‘one aroace experience’ idea. First of all, just as a disclaimer, everyone is entitled to their own opinion obviously. By writing this, I am not trying to insult or undermine what anyone who believes this is saying, but simply offering my own opinion on the topic.
Many reviews make the argument that Loveless gives a singular aroace experience and makes it seem like everyone who is aroace follows this experience. And yes, it is true that Loveless does give a single (of many different) aroace experience, due to the fact that it follows one person going through her own experience, and probably also largely reflects what the author themself went through. However, I do not believe that this book should have the responsibility of showing so many different aroace experiences. It’s one person, it’s one experience. There are so many books out there about gay teens, and so many of them have so many different experiences, but almost all only represent one singular of the many experiences. And I really think the difference between those books and Loveless is that there are so few aroace books out there that people just believe this book should embody all aroace experiences, and for those who don’t know much about the aroace community, they may believe that it DOES embody all aroace experiences. But we cannot expect to relate to every single character of our same identity that we read, and I am sorry if Loveless was not a book that you could relate to as much as you might have hoped you could have, but I still do not believe that it is a problem that it shows a singular aroace experience. It can definitely be disappointing to find a character of such a little-talked about identity and not feel like you can connect to them – for me, Agatha in Ophelia After All is a great example of this – but yeah, aroace people do have quite a few different experiences, and unfortunately a singular book cannot cover all these experiences.

I have no idea if any of what I just said made any sense, and I wrote like half of it directly after I’d finished the book, right before I was about to go to bed, but this was something that I’d been thinking about for a while and I really wanted to address it in my post.

Have you read Loveless? What were your thoughts on it? Do you agree with what I said?

12 thoughts on “Loveless: A Review and Discussion on ‘The One Aroace Experience’

  1. This book has been on my TBR for a very long time and your review made me even more excited to read it. This will be the first book I’ve read with aroace representation and I’m interested to learn about it.

    I definitely agree with what you said about the ‘one aroace experience.’ I think it applies to any experience, how no one person’s experience can encompass the whole community’s experiences of it. It also shouldn’t just be one person’s job to represent the whole community, that’s not how things work. Each person’s experience is their own unique experience that represents who they are as a person, not who the community is.

    Loved reading this discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I definitely hope that you get to reading it soon! It’s one of my favorite books, as might be obvious from my review haha and personally, I think it is a great first book to read with characters who are aroace! It dives much deeper into being aroace than most books, and I think identities are explained well (though, as someone who already knew a lot of aroace-spec identities before reading this book and therefore didn’t need them explained in the book, I cannot vouch for this).

      I’m glad you agree, I was definitely a little bit nervous about posting this discussion since a LOT of people on goodreads in the reviews were talking about how they felt like it only covered one experience and that was disappointing. Yes exactly! You said it a lot more eloquently than I did and I love your explanation!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. i love this review—it’s so thoughtful and has made me even more excited for loveless! i agree with you on the “one [x] experience” thing. it’s amazing how we can all “contain multitudes” and yet be so vastly different from each other. which is why i don’t think anyone should have to be “trapped” by trying to represent everyone. it’s kinda like…one voice doesn’t define a chorus and each voice is valuable to that chorus’ songs! hopefully loveless will be one of the first of MANY books representing the various ace experiences!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad that you enjoyed and agree with me! Exactly, everyone is different, and you can’t exactly display all those different experiences in one book, and it’s unfair to expect that someone can represent everyone of a certain identity. I hope you LOVE loveless when you get to read it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reading negative reviews of my favourite books always hurts, and you’ve captured here exactly how I feel about loveless! I related so much to Georgia’s character too, and I loved all of the characters even though they all were so messy and made a lot of mistakes. I feel like this is something that happens with a lot with ownvoices authors (I rarely use that word but idk what else to use here) when people don’t like a book because it didn’t accurately portray some identity – but it might have resonated a lot with another person with the same identity – it doesn’t necessarily make a book bad!
    My comment is all over the place lol, great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It does! I’m always afraid that reading a negative review of books I love is going to change what I think about that book when I reread it. Due to the numerous negative reviews of Loveless, I was really worried about this but I enjoyed it just as much! And the number of people who discussed the ‘one aroace experience’ in their reviews really made me want to say something about it too, because I honestly just don’t think that’s fair for someone to expect one book can represent every identity. Haha no worries, I understood your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved, loved, loved this review, Phoenix, and basically agree with you on everything! I practically have nothing to add because you’ve already said it all! 🥰😂

    I also agree with the general sentiment here in the comments: A book’s protagonist is always going to reflect one particular experience, and that’s totally normal! Instead, I feel like it’s when you try to squeeze every single identity and possible stance into one book that you actually start having problems… Because that way, you’re simply unable to explore anything in any depth anymore, and your characters will no longer feel like real individuals, but like political instruments meant to get a message across! 😅

    And wow, Loveless wasn’t available in the US before? 🤯 I didn’t know that! That’s such a long time between releases! 😳

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aah, I’m so glad that you enjoyed the review!
      Yeah, exactly, it just doesn’t really make sense/the story won’t turn out well if you try to squeeze too much into a book! I love the way you said ‘like political instruments meant to get a message across’ because that’s so true, it’s like when you try to teach TOO much or something like that it just ends up feeling fake!
      Yeahhh, Loveless just didn’t have a US publisher for a long time and then the release date kept getting pushed back once it got one due to covid supply chain backups. So it definitely took a while!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I read Loveless last year and while I didn’t love it in general, that was more due to just not being a huge fan of contemporary YA stories. I appreciated that it was a story with aro/ace rep though, again, even if my aro/ace experience is different to that portrayed in the book. I agree with you about the thoughts on Loveless portraying a single experience – like yeah, it does, because it’s a story following one person and it did mention the different experiences of some background characters but if it had gone into those in more detail it would have been a terribly messy story that probably wouldn’t be any fun to read. You don’t see people complaining about the single experience in other LGBT+ stories and to me that’s just a sign that there need to be more stories featuring aro/ace characters so people can read a variety of representations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy Loveless much when you read it! Yeah, exactly! The fact that you don’t really see other people in other parts of the community complaining about a singular experience (although I haven’t done a WHOLE lot of looking into that) really shows how few aroace books there are, for people to think that one has to represent everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved this discussion! It’s interesting that you brought up the “one experience” thing because I didn’t even know that was a criticism of the book. I agree that it shouldn’t be anyone’s responsibility to represent a whole community, and Loveless does a great job of showing how one aroace person feels, and that’s just as valid.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, when reading some of the reviews of Loveless I came across one or two people saying that and I just didn’t think it was totally fair? I mean, I totally get wanting to read a book that you can see yourself in and it can be disappointing when that doesn’t happen, but there are so many different experiences out there that it’s impossible to represent everyone and authors shouldn’t be criticized for not doing so!

      Liked by 1 person

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