Official Review: All On Zero by Argiro Mantoglou

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SidnayC
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Official Review: All On Zero by Argiro Mantoglou

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[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of "All On Zero" by Argiro Mantoglou.]
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I must firstly address that this book is not an easy read and tackling a book such as this will either leave you completely drained or thoroughly enlightened! Although a fictional romance, it can also be said that this book is embedded, equally so, in philosophical, anthropological and superstitious theory. It essentially seems to go to the very core of all that is debated about the cold and ugly nature of humans and the world they inhabit. Consequently this book is able to provide not only a love story with enough suspense to keep you reading on, it is also able to stimulate the mind and question things about life that you never thought to notice before.

Dawn is the main character in this story, a thirty-six year old writer who travels back to Greece after living in London for eighteen years, in order to allow her creative juices to flow better when writing. She immediately becomes trapped into the exciting and dangerous world of gambling by the mystery that is Stavros. Stavros is charming and dominant but he is also everything that is bad for Dawn. Even from their first meeting, Dawn and Stavros's relationship is clouded by gambling's chaotic, deceptive and abusive nature. They become each other's drug and can't seem to break free from one another even when their worlds become an entangled mess of destruction where it is uncertain how it will finally end.

Reading about the different twists and turns in Dawn and Stavros's relationship was so fascinating. My eyes became almost glued to every page because you never knew what was going to happen at any given moment between them. But although I was gripped to this story, as I read on, I was deeply disappointed with how the author's writing style progressed. In Dawn's own words, this book was written in a 'very haphazard and non-systematic way'. The story was never able to flow in a coherent manner because the author kept on switching between scenes and cutting scenes off abruptly without warning. Sometimes I had to re-read entire paragraphs over and over again, to surmise whether I was still in the same scene or a completely new one. For example one minute Dawn would be arguing with Stavros and the next minute their making love with no explanation of how they made up. Similarly Dawn would be doing or thinking about something particularly interesting and then out of nowhere she would completely change her line of thought or action. The author's seeming inability to follow through with scenes in cohesion to a point where it made sense, was thus incredibly frustrating and bewildering. What also added to my confusion was that the author used the word 'she' a lot, sometimes in reference to Dawn, Celia or any another women in the story and it became increasingly excruciating trying to work out who the author was referring to. I didn't understand why she just couldn't call them by their name for clarity.

I think the main thing that will frustrate those who read this book purely seeking a romance story, is the lengthy paragraphs upon paragraphs about complex philosophical teachings and sayings. It at times felt like a 'philosophical overload' of different theories which were 'stuffed' into almost every page of this book. It just seemed that anything that came into Dawn's line of vision, whether it be a passing waiter or even just wrapping paper, was over-analysed to death by the author in a philosophical abstract manner and this slowly began to annoy me. It felt like I was reading two books, sometimes a fictional romance novel and the other times a non-fictional text book about philosophy.

However there were parts of this book (many parts), which had the power to leave me truly speechless and in awe because some of the theories expounded throughout the book, about love and life, were enlightening and very inspirational. And because it was told through Dawn's eyes, I could relate to her character more.

I also think that people will thoroughly enjoy Stavros's character and the way it was cleverly written in the second-person. Although he is an emotionally abusive 'player' in every sense of the word, he has such raw emotion, that it will make readers understand his plight and feel sorry for him almost. I just wished there was more dialogue between him and Dawn. The very little there was, was spectacular, allowing me to feel both character's strained emotions. However I do not feel that the ending of this book did justice to their love story. It was not what I expected and seemed lackluster.

I give this book a 3 out of 4 stars. I appreciated it immensely for its unpredictable and creative approach to romance literature which I think many romance lovers may enjoy. However the complexity of this story, instead of being epic, was confusing at times because of the author's chaotic writing style and long-winded philosophical sayings.

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There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you - Maya Angelou
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