REVIEW: Kissing the Coronavirus by MJ Edwards

She was supposed to cure the Coronavirus. Instead… she fell in love with it. Dr Alexa Ashingtonford is a part of a crack team of scientists tasked with finding the cure to the devastating Coronavirus. Little did she know she would end up falling in love with it, in this steamy viral-erotica. Kissing Coronavirus is a steamy tale about forbidden love and dark desires come to life.

Warnings: irreverent humor

Category: M/F, F/F, M/M

Kissing the Coronavirus is a ridiculously tongue in cheek erotic comedy parody. Virally controversial for its very blatant irreverent approach to a serious topic, its been both derided and applauded for its purposefully atrocious writing. Whether you interpret it as a kind of coping mechanic gallows humor take on life during the COVID-19 pandemic, or an appalling monetization of tragedy, it is at the very least a hilariously bizarre and surreal read. I initially passed on it due to it’s length, but since the advent of more installments and an omnibus edition collecting all four shorts, I couldn’t resist picking it up.

The first thing that must be understood, is that this book is a comedy. It isn’t intended to be taken seriously, and the prose reflects that. It’s written incredibly “badly” and people have lambasted it for this, but to criticize “bad” writing here is missing the point. It’s clearly bad on purpose, and it’s incredibly fun for being so. It’s full of wildly strange metaphors and turns of phrase, many which had me laughing out loud. Names are ridiculous, the drama is amped up to 11, and its all so over the top. Each story is pretty formulaic; something happens to mutate a person into the personification of either COVID, or the COVID vaccine, or the new mutated COVID strain, and then the scientist lady who is the POV character of the short has sex with them. The final story is a bit of an epilogue wrap-up to tie it all together and give an ending to the saga, but all in all there’s no real plot here nor is there meant to be; this is pure absurdist comedy.

Obviously there isn’t any emotional development to the characters here; these are ‘erotic’ shorts that are more ridiculous than arousing and certainly don’t waste any time on characterization. While there’s little to emotionally connect with in the over the top horny leading ladies, there is a broader conversation to be had on the nature of gallows humor. To be upfront about it, many people find it offensive that someone sought to capitalize on the tragedy that is the global pandemic. But on the other hand, gallows humor is the process of making light of terrible or traumatic events to rob them of their power, which is a very empowering form of coping humor for many people. To make light of and make fun of things which traumatize can give many people back a sense of agency. Of course, not everyone copes with gallows humor, and some find it more distressing than helpful. I of course have no idea if the author’s intention was to create a piece of gallows humor or if they were simply thoughtless of the gaucheness in profiting off of global misfortune, but I can say that I for myself experienced it as a form of gallows humor, and really vibed it with for that reason.

There isn’t a whole lot to say on the worldbuilding here. There are teams of scientists and doctors but of course none of it is accurate to real life examples of science or medicine. It’s not meant to be, it’s just silly, so the accuracy doesn’t really matter. There is some tying together of all the shorts into a linear timeline, but its more loose than anything. It’s hard to really comment on something that’s mostly set dressing; Kissing the Coronavirus is populated by insatiably horny women who don’t know any men who can satisfy them, and COVID-19 is a sentient being that can take over people’s bodies if they acquire too much of the virus. That’s it, that’s all you need to know about the setting.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the sex in Kissing the Coronavirus is not… sexy. And, it really doesn’t seem like it is supposed to be. This is ‘erotic’ in the sense that it is explicit, but it’s a parody of erotica, not erotica itself. Everything from the word choice in the descriptions, to the incredibly overwhelming horniness of the leads, to the author’s chosen sex acts (like a lady shoving hot dogs into herself on her lunch break for instance) are so silly that you can’t help but laugh. I was killing myself laughing reading this, it was so funny I couldn’t stop. You have to really be into this kind of humor of course, it isn’t going to be for everyone. But if you’ve enjoyed authors like Chuck Tingle for their strange surrealism comedy, this is going to be up that same ally. In fact, the descriptions here are even more silly than a Tingle book. I was also quite pleased that the author made the effort to be inclusive; while most of the content is M/F, there is one completely F/F story and another threesome that includes some M/M. It could certainly have stood to be a little kinkier of course, but that’s just me.

This is exactly what it says on the tin. If you saw the cover and thought it looked hilarious, you won’t be dissappointed and I highly recommend getting the whole collection. If, however, you saw the cover and thought it was wildly offensive, there isn’t really much here that will impress you. I got a fun afternoon out of it if nothing else, and a great little ‘souvenir’ of the pandemic, because if you don’t laugh then you have to cry, am I right?

Have you read Kissing the Coronavirus? Let me know what YOU thought by leaving me a comment!

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