Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5
This starts in first person with Jason experiencing a horrible act of violence. He is saved by a stranger named Liam and they are both probably in shock because they flee the scene and wash off any evidence. Not that I’m sure how any of it would have helped the police. With the killer still at large, they are holed up in a hotel room. Two months later Jason has PTSD and is not coping well. Once again, Liam comes to his rescue. When they start back to school in the Fall, their relationship continues to develop. All of the sudden Jase is like a new, different person or maybe he is his old self. I don’t know because I don’t know who he was before the event. What I do know is that the second half of the book focuses on yet another tragedy, this one is Liam’s past. The point is for Jase to save Liam, as Liam saved Jase. The confrontation with a fellow survivor seems created just for drama and conflict. When there is yet another emergency, Jase’s reaction is OTT. Liam does need to see a mental health professional, but all of this feels like an adult Afterschool Special (yes, I am aware this dates me) with a pointed message and no subtlety.
People can get close when they’ve shared life changing moments, but this is slightly exploitative–as if the tragedy is a way to execute a gay for you story. The sex scenes are not all that sexy, just intense. There could be a believable, heartfelt story of a man who realizes he’s attracted to another man in the wake of a trauma. Tragedies make people question who they are and confront their view of themselves. Two guys bonding and realizing they are bisexual when they develop feelings for each other is entirely possible. This would have been more realistic if they had gotten to know each other first, before the sexual element was introduced. They even read more as demisexual, although I’m not sure that fits either. Then they get to the point of power exchange and I feel like that is another reason/excuse given to why they are attracted to each other. It’s the delivery that makes it feel unnatural.
The message of the book is a good one (“gay, straight, bi, pan…all labels, and I don’t need them”); I’m just not convinced by the execution of this example. But this message rings loud and clear, “time to live life fully because you never know when it’s all going to be over.”
The cover art by Natasha Snow shows the two main characters and a theater that played such a huge part in their story. The pixelation seems to convey how scattered and torn apart they are by trauma.
Published October 29th 2018 by NineStar Press (first published February 14th 2016)
Edition Language English