The Espressologist by Kristina Springer

by Kat Alexander

All Jane wants to do is get through this year with enough money saved up to get through fashion design school. Even if that means skipping most of her blow-off classes at her high school. And maybe the two classes she’s taking for free at the community college. But, as she would (and does) say, it’s not like she NEEDS to go to school, whereas she NEEDS to work to be able to pay her tuition.

At least she can have a little fun while she’s on shift. Jane’s been keeping a list of favorite coffees and their people–a medium iced vanilla latte is a loyal and trustworthy friend; a small zebra mocha is someone with an adventurous streak. Espressology, she calls it, the study of people and their coffee. Jane can match people with their coffee on the spot, and soon enough she finds she can match people with others just the same way, based solely on age and favorite drink.

For Jane, it’s helping out. For the matches, it’s a great way to meet their perfect other halves. And for Jane’s jerk manager, Derek, it’s a row of dollar signs marching through the doors.

It doesn’t take long for Derek to make Jane the store’s new holiday promotional strategy. From six to ten on Fridays, the Espressologist is in for a little latte and love.

The beans don’t lie, though, and Jane finds that some matches are harder to make than others. What’s a 17-year-old espressologist to do?

Now, I gotta say, I love coffee. I think it may be some kind of rite of passage that comes with being a full-time anything and a National Novel Writing Month participant at the same time. So when I heard about a book that is primarily set in a coffee shop, well, I had to get my hands on it.

Once it was finally in my hands, though, my immediate thought was This is it? The Espressologist is a short book. That’s probably one of its biggest problems. I wish it was at least a hundred pages longer.

This isn’t necessarily because I wanted to stay with the book longer, but because one of the things about having an exceptionally short book is that if too many conflicts get piled it, they end up straightening themselves out pretty quickly. Nothing particularly bad happens to Jane the whole time. She doesn’t have any big challenges, and if something does come up, let the thin layer of remaining pages reassure you that it can’t possibly turn out too bad. The Espressologist is a light book, predictable.

The writing style matches the plot–light, but not trashy. It’s not all that witty, and don’t go expecting anything profound or poetic. It goes by quickly, in an action-heavy present tense, with words in all caps to show emphasis (something that can grate on my nerves, but it wasn’t too bad here, and hey, to each her own). Nothing too original, but fun to read.

There isn’t really much else I can think of to say. I liked the beginning, and I feel I may have let myself get my hopes up for this one. The characters are alright, but they’re a little flat for my taste. The beans never lie, says Jane, and indeed they don’t. I almost wish she’d really screwed up a match, just to throw in some variety, but the beans never lie! Relationships are started quickly and end well. People move on at light speed from old boyfriends and girlfriends to Jane’s matches.

Overall, The Espresologist is a light, happy book, with an interesting and entertaining premise that managed to keep me reading through the whole thing, a nice break after being nearly scared witless by Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Rest assured, this one will result in no nightmares, unless you have a horrible fear of flavored coffees with very long names and/or teenaged barista/matchmakers, in which case, this is most certainly not the book for you.

Kat Alexander is a Figment Reviewer who (clearly) loves to read and comment. She’s active on a number of sites including NaNo, Fiction Press, and FanFiction under aneko24.

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