[Review] Alone with you in the Ether by Olivie Blake

Two people meet in the Art Institute by chance. Prior to their encounter, he is a doctoral student who manages his destructive thoughts with compulsive calculations about time travel; she is a bipolar counterfeit artist, undergoing court-ordered psychotherapy. By the end of the story, these things will still be true. But this is not a story about endings.

For Regan, people are predictable and tedious, including and perhaps especially herself. She copes with the dreariness of existence by living impulsively, imagining a new, alternate timeline being created in the wake of every rash decision.

To Aldo, the world feels disturbingly chaotic. He gets through his days by erecting a wall of routine: a backbeat of rules and formulas that keep him going. Without them, the entire framework of his existence would collapse.

For Regan and Aldo, life has been a matter of resigning themselves to the blueprints of inevitability—until the two meet. Could six conversations with a stranger be the variable that shakes up the entire simulation?

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My first stand-alone by the author

I already gathered quite some experience with Olivie Blake, as I devoured The Atlas Six and The Atlas Paradox. While I waited for the final installment of this science fiction novel, I stumbled over this stand-alone novel in London. On a book flea market, I found a special edition with sprayed edges and couldn’t resist. Although her Atlas series never got the full points, I overall liked her characters. And this newest addition to my bookshelf seemed highly driven by the characters. It starts with six conversations and develops into a life-changing relationship.


„Wanted to talk to you, but unfortunately I’m out of logistics.“ – page 103


The book is divided into six chapters, which nicely connects the form to the content. Regan and Aldo’s first coincidental conversation already reveals his fascination with bees and hexagons more specifically. Their dialogues are rough but simultaneously fluent, not full of words but full of intriguing subtext. Through the things they say and don’t say, they get to know each other, and I loved being witness to it. The author initially introduces us to their ordinary life, but only in those conversations can we dig deeper.


Regan, he thought, Regan, this night is stolen, I want grand larceny and this is petty theft. – page 135


Experimentally written in six parts

The third part of the book creates a lot of emotions while both protagonists find an alternative to their current lives in each other. They get to challenge the given and imagine something new. In the forth chapter, they explore this new and unknown possibility of each other and I devoured their intimacy, their concessions, their highs. Part Five allows them to questions time and the consistency of their feelings, their confidence, and their relation. The final part was a pure rollercoaster of emotions, evoking many possibilities and containing the characters’ final fight for themselves and each other. Every part of their relationship drew me in, and I intensely feared and loved with them.


It frustrated him immensely that he would never be able to prove that time didn’t stop when she met his eye. – page 156


The writing style of this book is surely extraordinary. Olivie Blake’s experimental style reminds us of theatre pieces, of external streams-of-consciousness, of pure, although indirect dialogues. The change of formatting and perspectives gives every chapter a new ambience. I could surely spend months considering the choices she made and their significance to this book’s slightly neurodivergent characters. Although the pace appears overall rather slow, her characters offer a magnitude of feelings and experiences so that the told time rather feels like several than just one year.


“One day,” he sighed, “you’ll discover that my understanding of math does not translate to a grasp of human behavior, and then it will occur to you that I am, in fact, an idiot.” – page 187


In conclusion,

I fell for the characters and Blake’s writing in this book within the first 50 pages. Although it took me about two weeks to finish the book, whenever I opened it, I was paralyzed and caught by this ordinary but extensive story of love and self-love. The characters and the writing style are surely unique and make this reading an extraordinary experience.



The author:

OLIVIE BLAKE is the New York Times bestselling author of The Atlas Six, Alone with You in the Ether, One for My Enemy, and Masters of Death. As Alexene Farol Follmuth, she is also the author of the young adult rom-coms My Mechanical Romance and Twelfth Knight. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, goblin prince/toddler, and rescue pit bull. Source

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