Tag Archives: Gay

‘Me Being Me Is Exactly As Insane As You Being You’ – Or Is It?

Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy

mePlot: 8/20                                       

The story centers on Darren and his life; his parents’ divorce, his distanced relationship with his best friend and his brother moving away to Ann Arbor to study. My issue with this kind of story is that there aren’t enough plot points and obstacles to keep the reader reading. For such a long story, there isn’t anything compelling the reader to continue on past the first 100 pages. It becomes a battle to finish it rather than a pleasure. The story is an average, basic one.

Narration: 12/20

The narrative framework is something else though – a novel told in lists. The concept drew me in and once you get about ten or so pages into the story, you can lose yourself for a hundred pages or so. Many of the lists are tangential and while this gives the story an interesting quality, it also detracts from plot and character. It reads as more of an attempt to play with literary devices than an opportunity to tell a story. This kind of tangential referencing is fantastic for building character in certain instances but overall, it weakens the story. Realistically, it adds an additional and unnecessary 200 pages to a very long-winded novel.

Character: 7/20

Darren’s character comes through loud and clear and I actually kind of like him up until his Dad comes out and he completely loses it. I get it; he’s upset and confused and constantly questioning his parents and their marriage but at the same time, it’s over-exaggerated and I couldn’t invest any more of my time in him past this point. And it just got worse as the novel went on. Nate was interesting in the beginning but his character wavers so much that he reads like a different character in each scene. The parents are OK for the roles that they’re playing; except maybe the father who’s a bit like a Parenting-101 counselor. I like Zoey but again, there’s isn’t much different about her that I haven’t seen before.

Quality of Writing: 13/20

The writing is great because it’s episodic and Hasak-Lowy manages to infuse character into his lists which I give him credit for. If he had trimmed it back a bit, it would have worked a lot better. Sometimes, the lists run on too long and become chapters, making it difficult to remember what the respective list is about.

Setting: 7/10

The fact that Hasak-Lowy can anchor us in Ann Arbor and Chicago, while writing a novel in lists, is pretty incredible, and much to his merit. It would have worked a lot better if he cut back on some of the lists and let character, setting and the story flow rather than washing us in a muddled tidal wave of all three where we find it difficult to clearly identify where we are, who the key players are and what’s going on. I Google-mapped Ann Arbor and looked at how long the journey is from Chicago. It’s about five hours or thereabouts but what I find interesting, is how badly conveyed and unclear this is in the story.

Comparative Literature: 4/10

The most interesting aspect of the novel is the lists but this is much to the detriment of story and character. It doesn’t offer anything new, apart from what appears to be a gimmick. John Green’s Paper Towns gives us Margo Roth Spiegelman, a mysterious yet humorous character and while the story has its faults, Q’s reaction to her disappearance is appropriate. Darren’s reaction to his Dad coming out is INSANE. I actually cannot imagine anyone acting like that, regardless of the circumstances. It’s supposed to be a coming-of-age novel but when you compare it to its contemporaries, it doesn’t stack up. I’m the first to criticize John Green’s work but he gets you invested and interested in his characters. The Perks of Being a Wallflower has some character issues but overall, it’s a superior caliber of story.

Overall Score: 51/100

Rate it or Slate it?

Slate it: It’s too long-winded and tangential to really invest your time and develop an emphatic to Darren. The unique selling point of this novel is also the final nail in its metaphorical coffin.

Books You May Also Like:

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan – a humorous, coming-of-age story that explores romance, sexuality and friendship

Paper Towns by John Green – a story of love, lies and mysteries

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – a profound story exploring sexuality, drugs, alcohol and depression

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Adam Created eve and the eves Served the Inheritants in ‘Only Ever Yours’

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

OnlyEverYours

Plot: 20/20                                             

frieda and isabel have been friends their whole lives. Groomed as eves at a Euro-zone school, they must go head-to-head to secure their Inheritant – to secure their future – unless they want to face a future as a concubine. As the pressure increases, isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her only asset – her beauty – in peril. The boys – the Inheritants – arrive and are eager to choose a bride but can Frieda’s and Isabel’s friendship survive the ceremony?

The story takes place in a male-dominated dystopia and it’s absolutely fascinating. O’Neill touches on bulimia, anorexia, drug use, sex and misogyny and O’Neill obstacles for frieda that compel you to read further while simultaneously disturbing the reader.

Narration: 20/20

O’Neill injects character into the narrative but better still, she earths us in frieda’s mind so that we’re almost literally seeing everything through her eyes, feeling every emotion and hearing every thought. frieda is a character who struggles to uphold her social responsibilities as this wars with her character and we get inside her head and discover her anxieties, fears and insecurities.

Character: 20/20

I love the characters because, although they are always striving for perfection, ultimately we see the cracks in who they are and who they’re pretending to be. We see the malicious megan, the insecure and unsure frieda, the indifferent yet caring isabel and the cruel chastity-ruth. It’s interesting as well because there’s layers to every character. frieda is struggling to discover herself in an environment where she is being trained to serve men. When she stops taking her pills and chastity-anne hands her them, she has an internal struggle; she doesn’t want to take them but she knows she must because that is what man has dictated. We see it with Megan too. She’ll lie and betray everyone around her to climb to the top. She tells frieda that she’s not a bitch, she’s just doing what she was created and taught to do. It’s these internal struggles and the oppressive nature of the world that give each character a duality; a duality that we can’t always see but makes the reader wonder about other facets of the characters exist. Everything down to the names (Darwin, in particular) conveys character. Genius

Quality of Writing: 20/20

The writing is phenomenal. Jeanette Winterson summed it perfectly when she said that O’Neill “writes with a scalpel” and here’s the proof:

  • “… flickering images anaesthizing us into silence.”
  • “Why do I feel as if there is limescale building up inside of me, clogging my air supply?”
  • “The words fill my mouth like marbles, crammed too tight for them to escape.”
  • “It doesn’t feel like a bridge, I think as she leaves. A bridge would feel some way steady. This feels more like I’m balancing on a tightrope of cobwebs.”
  • “The room expands and contracts like an accordion.”

Setting: 10/10

O’Neill creates and shapes a new world, which to me, is a portrait of our world under a microscope and holds kernels of parallel truth for our own society.Her world-building abilities are second to none. She builds a world even though we only see the school. She anchors us in a particular place and reinforces it with societal elements. The eves’ PE classes are basically pole-dancing lessons and they are forced to carry out domesticated tasks like baking in order to gain favour from the Inheritants. Adam created eve. The eves take pills to supprsess their “Unacceptable Emotions”. eves (women) live only to serve the Inheritants (men); a chastity must have her womb cut out and her head shaved in order to sacrifice of all herself to man; a companion lives to serve her husband; a concubine exists to fulfil a man’s carnal desires. Anything that jeopardizes the balance is eradicated; lesbianism is viewed as an act of defiance and the last time it happened, they sewed up their private parts and shot them through the head. This really captures how high the stakes are for the eves; they can’t put a step wrong if they want to survive.

Comparative Literature: 10/10

I’ve honestly never read a dystopian story as powerful as this. The Hunger Games, though not wholly original, was always the pinnacle for me of dytopian fiction but O’Neill has produced something that is flawless; a story that deeply disturbed me.

Overall Score: 100/100

Rate it or Slate it?

Rate it: Winner of the inaugural YA Book Prize and rightly so. Dystopia that delivers on all levels. Dark and edgy and as Jeanette Winterson summed up: “O’Neill writes with a scalpel”.

Books You May Also Like:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – for a similarly cut-throat, dystopian world of betrayal and secrets

The Maze Runner by James Dashner – for an adventure into the unknown with secrets, betrayals and deceit galore

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

‘Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda’ Flies The Flag For Diversity

Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

19547856

Plot: 17/20                                              

On a microscopic level, it’s a story about a teenage boy “coming out”, not just to his friends and his family but to the world. When we zoom out, we see that it’s so much more than that. It’s about life and love; friendship and family; and ultimately, the unbreakable bonds that connect us as homo sapiens. The scene where Simon tells us that the story has very little to do with him and more to do with the people in his life really sums up the premise of the novel beautifully. When Simon is blackmailed by a classmate, he must help him if he wants to keep his sexuality a secret. Meanwhile, there’s Blue; a guy that Simon falls madly in love with and will do anything to protect. It’s a funny story, chronicling the ups and downs of everyday, teenage life. My only critique is that the author makes the identity of Blue all too predictable and so it takes some of the magic out of it for me. I think Albertalli could have also pushed the story a bit further in ways but overall, the plot is great and we’re finally starting to see the emergence of LGBT YA as a mainstream genre with universal appeal.

Narration: 18/20

Simon’s narration is generally spot-on. There are times when his perspective feels a bit stilted and generic, particularly at the beginning of the novel. Words like “freaking”/“fucking”/“fuckstorm”/“holy box of awkwardness”/“goober”/“goddamn”/“hell” make him come across as a bit of a caricature but luckily, he straddles the line so carefully that for the most part, it’s not an issue but when it is an issue, it’s like being hit by an eighty-miles-an-hour wind in December. Still, you can’t take away from the humorous narrative voice:

“So maybe it’s the winter air of maybe it’s soccer boy calves, but after everything that’s happened today, I’m actually in a pretty decent mood.”

Character: 18/20

There’s a lively cast of characters and even better, there’s tension and chemistry between them. The Leah-Abby-Nick triangle affects the other characters. Nick is great as the quiet musician. We see different sides to Marty; both vulnerability and a funnier, goofier side. We see the evolution of Simon’s character from start to finish. I particularly liked Simon’s sisters, Norah and Alice and the scene where Simon is grounded and, wanting to speak to Leah, he makes a deal with his Mom to allow her supervised access to his Facebook account. Seriously? They’re freaking hilarious! Simon has some really clever, witty lines too:

“‘The blondest circle of hell.’”

Quality of Writing: 20/20

Albertalli’s writing lulls you into the story with her easy, understated style. She demonstrates a powerful grasp of the English language while still staying true to what her character would do and say:

  • “So when the school day ends, and nothing extraordinary has happened, it’s a tiny heartbreak. It’s like eleven o’clock on the night of your birthday, when you realize no one’s throwing you a surprise party after all.”
  • “A couple of the girls put some junk in my hair to make it messy, which is basically like putting high heels on a giraffe.”
  • “And cranking Sufjan Stevens at top volume doesn’t solve anything, why is probably why people don’t crank Sufjan Stevens. My stomach is apparently on a spin cycle.”

Setting: 10/10

The story is set in Shady Creek and most of the action takes places at Creekwater High. Albertalli captures the physical settings perfectly but she adds another layer in her references to pop music (Tegan and Sara and Justin Bieber), specific locations (Chick-Fil-A) and gaming (Assassin’s Creed). Furthermore, the e-mails intrigue the reader and these, along with the Tumblr, lends the story a credible modernity.

Comparative Literature: 9/10

The writing is very reminiscent of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Is it an original story? Not necessarily but Albertalli infuses the story with a modernity that Alex Sanchez’s and much of David Levithan’s works seem to lack. It’s s standout in its genre and something that will have universal appeal; it’s a story that will reach out to many teens, regardless of sexuality. Personally, I give Albertalli two-thumbs-up for managing for making something that could have been extremely niche, so universal.

Overall Score: 92/100

Rate it or Slate it?

Rate it: The words are the wrapping paper, the characters are the gift and somewhere in between lie the kernels of truth of the everyday life.

Books You May Also Like:

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan – for an LGBT story infused with character and humor

Geography Club by Brent Hartinger – a funny LGBT story that explores the sexuality and the social minefield

Rainbow Boys by David Sanchez – a coming-of-age story about three boys, their secrets and betrayals

The Perks of Being a Wallflower for that same easy readability

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan – for a story about two different Will Graysons that encompasses hope, serendipity and love

Leave a comment

April 10, 2015 · 7:53 am

Undone

undone

Author: Cat Clarke

Publisher: Quercus

Format: Paperback

Standalone/Series: Standalone

Pages: 352

Plot:

The plot is something else. I read this line – “Jem Halliday is in love with her gay best friend. Not exactly ideal, but she’s learning to live with it.” – and I thought:

mean girls 1

Then I read on – “Then the unspeakable happens. Kai is outed online …and he kills himself. Jem knows nothing she can say or do will bring him back. But she wants to know who was responsible. And she wants to take them down.” And then I was like:

mean girls 2 A

But seriously:

mean girls 2

And 100 pages in:

mean girls 3

I was roped in. It was something different and I feel like 2014-2015 will be the year where the spotlight will be on realistic YA books by which I mean that illness, suicide, pregnancy, teenage angst (etc.) will be prevalent over paranormal stories. Not to say that paranormal stories don’t deal with these issues. I just feel like The Fault in Our Stars, Trouble and 13 Reasons Why and similar books have opened up the door for stories that teenagers (and wannabe teenagers like me) can relate to. I love the plot. It moved along nicely. There’s no swordfights or explosions if that’s what you’re expecting but it’s a beautifully, dark story and I loved every minute of it. The only thing that bugged me was Bugs’ revenge. It felt too much like a frat-party prank rather than revenge. It didn’t have the power and effect that Lucas’ and Stu’s revenge carried. If Lucas had an equal part in the act in Jem’s eyes, which she believes  he does, then something more crushing needs to happen to Bugs.

17/20

Narration:

I loved the narration though I feel as though Clarke could have reinforced the fact that it was a letter throughout the novel in the same way Stephen Chbosky does in The Perks of Being a Wallflower or Annabel Pitcher in Ketchup Clouds. Clarke straddles the line between a dark Jem and a flippant Jem at times and while I think she succeeds, there are times where we tend to forget how disturbed and dark she is; how determined she is to die. Kai’s letters are uplifting and show how Jem, even as she decides she wants to die, mimics her best friend’s letter-writing – if maybe only to be closer to him.

16/20

Character:

I like Jem. I don’t find her whiny. I understand her pain and in the last 30 or so pages, I found it difficult to breathe. That’s right, Cat Clarke. If you’re reading this, you very nearly killed a reader. Disclaimer much? I felt every moment of Jem’s pain, every second of Kai’s pain in his letters. But Kai’s voice in the letters really gives you something to look forward to and tugs at your heart strings. I would like to know more about who Jem is rather than knowing things about her like how she looked and that. I mean, in the first scene, we get a sense of a younger Jem but for the rest of the novel, she’s losing herself – who she is – but the “self” hasn’t been fully established. I liked the rest of the cast but Jem (and Kai from the grave) really do rule the show.

16/20

Quality of Writing:

The writing is powerful but rather than go on and on, I’ll pick out some examples:

  • “Everyone thought that things were getting back to normal. They had no idea that normal didn’t exist for me any more. Normal had been smashed on the rocks beneath the bridge.”
  • “I know people think suicide is selfish, and maybe sometimes it really is. But what happened to Kai was beyond what anyone should have to cope with. I didn’t blame him, not really. It just broke my heart that I wasn’t enough to keep him here.”

20/20

Setting:

I had no issues with the setting. I knew where I was. There was adequate description without being overloaded with pages of tedious scene-setting.

Comparative Literature:

I quite enjoyed the voice and the premise though the narration could have been more distinct. I think Jay Asher nails it in 13 Reasons Why when he uses the tapes to get Hannah’s voice across and we get to see how Clay was and how he is as the tapes start to affect him. I think both books have pros and cons but Undone is a story worth reading and raises awareness about an important issue while also telling us a plot-driven story of revenge. Chbosky and Pitcher, as I’ve already said, have stronger narrative structures with the letter format. And yes, while Clarke’s characters aren’t the strongest characters I’ve ever read about in a YA novel, they serve their purpose and when you read, you can look over certain details once the story is good. And baby, is it good!

8/10

Overall Score:

87/100

Books You May Also Like:

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher – deals with suicide and the story is told in part, through tapes, which give it and eerily creative effect

Looking for Alaska by John Green – for another story that raises the question of suicide and explores a character who suffers from depression

Torn by Cat Clarke – for another story with guilt, lies and revenge

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hero

Hero

Title: Hero

Author: Perry Moore

Publisher: Hyperion

Format: Paperback

Standalone/Series: Standalone

Pages: 428

I do not own the content taken from this novel. All rights belong to Perry Moore and Hyperion.

Excerpt from page 1:

“I NEVER THOUGHT I’d have a story worth telling, at least not about me. I always knew I was different, but until I discovered I had my own story, I never thought I was anything special. My destiny began to unfurl during my very last game at school. What started with an accident on the court ended with the single most devastating look I ever got from my father. And it made me want to die.”

Plot:

I like the intertwining of Thom’s sexuality with the idea of superheroes. I’ve never seen this done in a YA novel before and I enjoyed it. There are some drawbacks though. Some of the superheroes and villains resemble Marvel and DC characters. This isn’t too much of an issue but when you look at the mention of the Silver Surfer, it instantly brings to mind the Fantastic Four. Even this isn’t bad compared to Justice, whose whole story arc is remarkably similar to Superman’s:

  • Superman is an alien. Justice is an alien
  • Superman’s home was destroyed. Justice’s home was destroyed
  • Superman is from Kansas. Justice is from Kansas
  • Superman’s weakness is kryptonite. Justice’s is a similar (purple) stone
  • Superman is invulnerable. Justice is invulnerable (both sharing most of the same abilities)

I also wondered about Scarlett and how her clothes didn’t burn off when she lit up and how the Spectrum was murdered in the lab and no one thinks to put two and two together and deduce logically who the culprit could possibly be. Instead, the heroes venture out on a crazy quest to apprehend every villain in the vicinity. I can’t deny though that the plot, although similar to the comics, is well-thought-out and feels fresh.

12/20

Narration:

I don’t like Thom as a narrator. I’m not even sure I like him as a character. Scratch that, I just don’t care about Thom. His narration is like a bag of nachos without the jalapeno kick. Moore’s narrative voice comes across, at times, like a female’s and the words go against the character:

“He wiped a long strand of luscious platinum hair out of his face and smoothed it back over his ear.” (77)

He might have gotten away with it once but it happens a lot and these thoughts do not reflect Thom as a character and they confuse and jar the reader’s ability to read and get lost in the moment.

The voice comes across as a bit too advanced for Thom in some of his language (“vestibule”/”anathema”/”sowing destruction”/”trim bare midriff”). It doesn’t matter that they may be interesting words or clever phrases in some cases as they don’t fit the vocabulary of a teenage boy.

8/20

Character:

Character is a grey area. Thom is weak both as a narrator and a character though there are glimmers of hope with other characters like Scarlett and Ruth. Thom’ fantasies about Uberman come across as a Mills and Boon story. Thom is described as a gay stereotype at certain stages in the novel (like his comments on men’s and women’s hair when it doesn’t fit with his character).

When we first meet Scarlett, she’s reading a NASCAR magazine and this simple piece of information tells us a lot about her character. She’s also just a badass. Ruth doesn’t care about the rules and her clairvoyance ties in with her character nicely, leaving opportunities that Moore takes to amp up the humour. The villains are believable and though similar to some comic book villains, Moore does well in making them seem fresh and new: Sig Sig Sputnik, Ssnake and Transvision Vamp.

12/20

Quality of Writing:

The writing isn’t as sharp as it could be. Thom uses formal language at times and it’s not in line with his character. I found myself becoming quite distant. The piece is peppered with clichés (“bone dry”/ “And then the unthinkable happened.”). The sentences run on far too long and are often clunky, and difficult to grasp on first reading. Moore also repeats some of the same words, particularly within the same page and  paragraph.

There are a number of occasions where Moore could capitalise on details that I found interesting but instead, he brushes over these. And finally, while I read, I noticed how Moore will find three different ways of describing something in close succession where one would do.

Despite this, information is slowly released and  the superheroes names and places in the story are dramatised rather than being told and over-egged. At times, there were some nice analogies like Thom comparing a child mesmerised by a Disney film to the first time he sees Uberman in person.  The Americanisms further reinforce the setting (“patties”/”goofy”/”grocery store”).

7/20

Setting:

There’s evidence of world-building here and I do get to see the world clearly through Thom’s eyes but sometimes, Moore could dramatise more. Thom tells us everything and we get a lot of lengthy description that pulls away from the plot. It gets to the point where you almost feel like you’re been presented with, let’s say, an apple, that it is, in fact, an apple and you’re tasting that apple and touching that apple.

7/10

Comparative Literature:

I honestly haven’t read anything like this in a novel and it would be unfair of me to compare it to the comic book form. The voice could be a little stronger to stand out in the world of YA Fiction but in terms of content, the general idea feels fresh to the genre.

8/10

Overall Score:

54/100

Summary:

Good world-building but if you’re after something with a lot of bite, maybe give this one a miss.

Books You May Also Like:

Gone by Michael Grant – for fast-paced plot and super-powered content

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan – for the LGBT content and a heart-warming tale of finding love

Geography Club by Brent Hartinger – for similar discovery of self

Leave a comment

February 27, 2014 · 9:31 am

Boy Meets Boy

BMB

Title: Boy Meets Boy

Author: David Levithan

Publisher: Knopf Books (an imprint of Random House)

Format: Paperback

Standalone/Series: Standalone Title

Pages: 185

The story told is a love story between Paul and Noah, Paul’s self-discovery and his attempts to love and be loved.

I do not own the content taken from this novel. All rights belong to David Levithan and Knopf Books.

Excerpt from Page 8:

“I’ve always known I was gay, but it wasn’t confirmed until I was in kindergarten. It was my teacher who said so. It was right there on my kindergarten report card: PAUL IS DEFINITELY GAY AND HAS VERY GOOD SENSE OF SELF.

[…]

I just assumed boys were attracted to other boys.

[…]

Imagine my surprise to find out that I wasn’t entirely right. Imagine my surprise when I went through all the other reports and found that not one of the other boys had been labeled DEFINITELY GAY. (In all fairness, none of the others had a VERY GOOD SENSE OF SELF, either.)”

Narration: Paul is a warm narrator. When he tells you something, it’s almost always personal to him and his world. You feel closer to him; more intimate with his story. He has a different way of looking at his school life, where he lives, who he likes and who he loves and it’s great to get a fresh voice. I believe that he’s a teenager dealing with typical teenage problems (love, gossip, navigating high school etc.). He is consistent. He mistakes Noah’s locker number for 264 almost immediately and this misconception is carried forward until he speaks with Noah again. He describes his surroundings with distinct adjectives (Infinite Darlene’s “crystal” voice).

18/20

Character: No one can deny that there are some strong characters in this novel. The body language, the dialogue and the thoughts of the character go hand in hand (in hand) so that we get a more well-rounded character. Everything from Infinite Darlene’s body language (the looks she throws Paul’s way) to her spoken words suggest that she is over-dramatic and loves to be the centre of attention and while this is true, she is more than this. She is multi-faceted. She is caring, thoughtful, protecti and fiercely loyal.

We even get a sense of character from characters’ absence. We never get to see Noah’s parents and through them, we are able to see that they care more about their careers than they do about their own children. They expect Noah to look after his sister constantly. When he goes to (what seems like his first prom), it is his sister that takes pictures in his parents’ absence.

I love the range of characters and their quirks and distinct names. I feel like the characters are named  with specific reasonsing. From the rivalry between divas Trillby Pope and Infinite Darlene to the quiet introvert Tony to the shrewd bookmaker who sets up the odds (Rip); there’s something for everyone.

(My personal favourite is INFINITE DARLENE. It’s all in the name 😉 )

I am aware though, that we get to see most of the characters in set environments. We never really get to see Infinite Darlene outside of school and I really want to know what she’s like at the weekends . Does she still dress in drag? Does she go by her boy alter ego? How far does her drag-at-school routine go? What are her parents like? How do they feel about her choice to perform in drag? She’s such an interesting character and I’m left with so many little, nagging curiosities that I really want to allay.

I also have an issue with Paul’s character in the choices that he makes and the justification for those choices. When he kisses Kyle, he tells us that he wants to take away some of the sadness from Kyle. In my experience, if you kiss someone, it’s because you like that person; because you want to kiss them and since Paul and Noah have history, I don’t buy this rationalisation. Levithan wins major brownie points later on with me when we see Paul’s demonstration of his love for Noah (which made me grin like a hyena on laughing gas – okay, maybe not quite that bad but you get the picture!).

14/20

Plot: The premise is simple. Paul meets Noah. Paul likes Noah. Paul falls in love with Noah. In between all of this, most of the characters in the novel are dealing with their own problems and these problems soon impact Paul himself. The story is sweet and funny. Paul’s community is a kind of Utopia. The Boy Scouts were renamed the Joy Scouts, Infinite Darlene is a six-foot drag queen and the star quarterback, the PFLAG draws a bigger crowd than the PTA. It’s unrealistic only when we measure it against reality and forget the fact that what we are reading is fiction.

I’m sure that many will describe the book as unrealistic and to those, I would say that Levithan has chosen not to go down the typical route. The Utopia – of equally-treated sexuality – he has created is used very cleverly to show what he thinks is achievable and also to provide a contrast for Tony and the issues he endures with his family. I do, however, question Tony’s curfew in the opening page. Paul tells us that his parents think he’s at a study group but that he has to be back by midnight. I just wonder if his parents are that naive.

18/20

Setting: I feel like we get to see what we need to see in this story. It’s a simple story with a lot of complex and colourful characters. Levithan anchors us in these places so that it feels like we are actually there, right beside the characters he has created. In Noah’s room, we can visualise the whimsical styling; when Paul is at school, we can imagine this as a typical American high school (at least as far as the setting is concerned). I would like to get just a little bit more when it comes to exploring this town. I’d like to know more about some of the other places that exist in this Utopic town.

16/20 

Comparative Literature/Originality: It’s difficult to gauge this book within YA canon – many of which touch on gay issues like Cassandra Clare in The Mortal Instruments series or Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Boy Meets Boy brings a fresh voice to the genre; an array of vivid, colourful and well-thought-out characters. The story is simple but then again, the best things in life are. The angle Levithan takes is unexpected and instead of weaving a tale chronicling the trials and tribulations (homophobia at school, issues with family and friends) of a gay adolescent, he tells us something that makes us smile, makes us laugh, makes us cry. If you Google “gay teen fiction”, I have no doubt that you will find hundreds of books that take the homophobic avenue, and while there is nothing wrong with this, Levithan offers us a fresh and different story and for that, I commend him.

20/20

Summary: It’ll make you laugh. It’ll make you cry. And then it’ll make you laugh again. A fresh take on same-sex love.

Overall Score

86/100

Books You May Also Like:

Geography Club by Brett Hartinger

Rainbow Boys by Alex Sánchez

Leave a comment

October 30, 2013 · 10:36 pm