This was another awesome buddy read with my besties...Josy, Christelle and Simone and made even better when the lovely Dani joined us...sadly this didn't turn out to be an awesome story for any of us...but, hey that's just us. A lot of people who read this book...well, they loved it and I'm not here to say they're wrong because this is yet another case of differing opinions and while I just couldn't get into this story I'm also not here to say it's bad...just that it didn't work for me.
Unfortunately there was a big chunk of this book that we all found didn't work. So if you've read Simone or Christelle's reviews I'll apologize now if things occasionally feel repetitious and also add that I will do my best to be somewhat original at least, ok?
Let's start with what I liked as my friend Christelle said the start was fairly good. We were drawn in fast and got to meet the MCs both Joel and Paulie fairly quickly and I liked that we were there when they met. Joel's roommate, Travis was one of my favorite characters and I have to admit if he got his own book I'd be seriously tempted. Even more than Travis though I liked Paulie.
Paulie was what many would term effeminate in the world of men but more than this Paulie was incredibly brave and strong. His life was for sh*t and still he found the good in the world and he continued to put himself out there and be positive, he just kept trying...now don't get me wrong he wasn't 'Mr. Perky Pants' but given the life he had trust me...he was pretty damned awesome...not perfect. There was actually a point at which I was a little frustrated with how he'd behaved but all things considered it was one moment that even he recognized as a moment of 'a$$hattery' and owned up to it and that quite possibly made me love him a tiny bit more.
I was also pretty taken with Paulie's aunt...she was wonderful and the mom that Paulie should have had, Paulie's sister while she had a raft of her own issues I wanted to hug her and feed her milk and cookies. She adored Paulie and that alone got her brownie points in my world.
The other thing that worked fairly well for me was the ending and by that I mean the last 20 - 25% of the story. It was definitely the best part of the book, mostly because after the first part and by this I mean maybe 5% my tickity boo was was on hiatus.
Ok, so the first 5% got us off to a reasonably good start and the last 20 - 25% was also fairly good...mmmmm....that leaves us with 70 - 75% of 'what the hell?' and this mostly revolved around Joel which that wasn't the problem...because Joel was one of the MCs. The main MC, if you will.
Take 2 on this part of my review because...whoa!!! Way to ramble Karen. It was epic...no actually I thought it was tedious so I scrapped it and I'm going to attempt to share what the issue was with this book for me using a lot less verbiage.
Hopefully in fewer words I'll try and explain why for me it was a matter of 'less is more'. For a big chunk of this book we were in Joel's head as the entire story is told from his perspective and if I'm going to be in someone's brain for that long I need them to make progress to move forward and while Joel may have been doing that externally. Internally it felt like he was wallowing in the past and I finally hit the wall on how many feelz I had to give. Trust me when I say I am truly not a cold hearted biotch. I can empathize and sympathize with the best of them. I can give you a list of books that have reduced me to tears practically from cover to cover...hell, I can give you a list of television commercials that repeatedly reduce me to tears...30 seconds that's all it takes.
With Joel unfortunately I felt him wallowing in his grief and guilt and going nowhere for too long and even when it seemed like he'd started to move on, it didn't feel like it. It wasn't about him loving Diago, that never bothered me although I did question how much his love was reciprocated but at this point that's water under the bridge and that Joel would always have a place in his heart for his first love...well anything else would have been just wrong.
My other problem became...the sex. Sorry, it was at times over the top and some of the descriptives well I have to admit I might have held out a little longer than the rest of my buddy read gang, along with my eye rolls there was a face-palm or two going on. I understand that Joel and Paulie are college age and libido's are in good working order but I have to admit a few of their encounters could have been off page or fade to black and I would have been fine with it and probably appreciated what happened on page a bit more. So really, it was once again a case of less is more and I fully acknowledge that this is entirely a personal preference issue as well.
Once again ladies thanks for sharing the adventure...but at the end of it all...I found myself frustrated by what should have been an 'I loved it' story for me written by a new author who in spite of all my ramblings here I do sincerely believe has the ability to write a story that will either reduce me to tears or have me over the moon with joy...or who knows maybe both. I look forward to finding out.
An ARC of 'Controlled Burn' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.