Ivy and Isaac are siblings. Ivy’s always been the one getting into trouble, but when she faces alternative school, she finally gives in to her parents and starts treatment for her ADHD. Isaac is the good son, on the soccer team and achieving academically, when an injury leads him to seek medication. In step Addison and Roxy, here to help, here to be their best friends. But Addison and Roxy have a wager, who can take their plus-one all the way.

My soulless clan who brought you to the Party, then left you in this desolate place, where even those who tried to save you are too world-weary to shed a single tear.

Roxy represents Roxicodone, an opioid, and Addison is Adderall, a mix of amphetamines. Both are prescription drugs, Roxy being the current star of the opioid crisis, bringing plenty of “plus-ones” to the Party. Addison isn’t like Roxy, he helps children, he does not go to the Party. Feeling a little bit left out, he challenges Roxy to a bet, and Ivy and Isaac will be the perfect opportunity for their competition.

The anthropomorphisation of drugs was an interesting idea but I’m not sure it quite worked. The metaphor of the Party didn’t hold up. If bringing them to the Party was to get users addicted, sure, but the Party is an overdose. Why would killing their users be the end goal? The spectre of ‘Lude haunts them, a discontinued prescription drug that was too addictive, too harmful, and has been consigned to history. Why would they risk becoming like him?

Roxy and Addison are also paranoid one of their upline will lure their plus-one away at the Party. If the party is someone’s overdose then why would they have another drug taking over? The uplines represent someone’s pathway to stronger or illegal drugs, but that wouldn’t be happening when you have just overdosed on the drug you were already on.

I guess if you assume they are godlike beings playing with the lives of mortals, it makes more sense, but less as an exploration of prescription drug abuse.

The story is set post-Covid, so is at a point where everyone knows the dangers of opioid addiction. The doctors are reluctant to prescribe Roxy, which leads on to Isaac looking for ways to seek her out, which is a realistic scenario. His initial injury was a sprained ankle, and the doctor didn’t want to give an unaccompanied minor a prescription, yet is fine handing him sample packets of an addictive drug for a minor injury…

I thought some of the interludes featuring the other drugs were well done though. It was just a bit hard to keep up the pretence of the drugs as people for the whole story. I’m not sure what Roxy’s thing at the end was, maybe it was meant to represent a strong attachment but it was weird it went both ways.

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