Love Is the Drug - Alaya Dawn Johnson
She understands with sudden clarity that bravery has nothing to do with the absence of fear, but the response to it.

Dear Fellow Sci-fi Fans,

One of my favorite things about flu-virus apocalypse themes, is that it could so easily be reality. Human beings aren’t really all that hard to kill, we just camouflage how easily we die with how well we kill. Humans are great at killing what we perceive as threats. This is proven quite well in Love is the Drug.
“Morality is something that falls from your pockets when you climb a ladder.”

When I first started the book I was worried that I wouldn’t make it to the end of the book. The ratings for this novel were so up in down, it was as if everyone who read Love is the Drug never read the same book, and perhaps this is true. We all take away something different from a book. I, personally, learned a lot of valuable life lessons from the world that Alaya Dawn Johnson created. Maybe a few of you are scoffing that I sometimes take life lessons from fiction, but it’s true that the author packed Love is the Drug with a few philosophies that we could all benefit and learn from.

We all know the saying, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This book proves that it doesn’t matter what sort of government leads a county, people in powerful positions always have something to gain or something to hide. To put one’s absolute faith in – and to never question – any government made up of humans is naïve. We all make mistakes, don’t we? It serves that those whom are higher up on the political ladder make the nosiest mistakes of us all and have more to gain by keeping those mistakes quite.
“You’re an iconoclast whose highest aspiration is K Street. You’re a Black DC girl determined to run away to a California suburb with barely any black people. You have a heart, Bird, but you only use your head. You try as hard as you can to be conventional and unoriginal and unthreatening, but somehow you always fail. Just a little bit. Because you know better.”

Not only did I learn that it’s healthy to question authority, but it’s also unhealthy to be someone you’re not, even when it is to please someone else. This is something that really struck close to home. I come from a religious family in The Deep South. My father is so fanatical about religion that nothing and nobody is more important. He’s also great at burning bridges with people who want a life that isn’t dictated by religion, because then he wouldn’t be in control. Suffice to say, I know how it feels to do anything to get a parents approval and still fall short every day.

I imagine the reason I could relate to Emily’s aka “Bird’s” need to please is because of my own relationship with my father. Nothing is more important that success to Carol Bird, something that she has hammered into Bird since she lectured her on the importance of picking appropriate friends in kindergarten. It’s no wonder Bird winds up with friends she can barely tolerate and a boyfriend she mostly keep around because he’s the only thing her mother ever really approved of about her. It’s crazy how easily it is to see something like an unhealthy need to please in one person (fictional or otherwise), but so difficult to admit to having the same problem in my own life.

At the beginning of Love is the Drug, it is clear Emily never questioned authority and she never tip-toed the line. She was a sheep following the masses, a drone following instructions to keep the peace until she could escape to college. Slowly, Emily begins to evolve as she pieces the puzzles together of her missing memory with the sometimes prep school drug dealer and conspiracy theorist, Coffee. She grows to love her real self and finds it easier to have meaningful relationships when she is true to herself.

Watching Emily grow into someone whom is confident and happy with herself really hit me – it can be worse for not only my family, but for me to keep the peace and live a lie than to be honest and proud about who I am. It is easy to see that while Emily is battling to survive in a world where the US government would rather kill her than let her expose their secrets and a flu virus is quickly decimating the population, her biggest battle is with her own self-preservation.

I easily gave this book a five star rating and I hope Johnson plans to continue to write more epidemic themed novels. Love is the Drug was riveting and surprisingly sexy. I recommend it to all readers, even if it is outside of your comfort zone. Give it a try and let me know what you think!


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