"You make me feel--" Stan said, then cut off the thought before he could voice it.
Oh man, it was an ordeal to finish this book. AN ORDEAL, I'm telling you!
I really liked the premise of a gender-fluid character who suffered from anorexia. Just think of all the possibilities. How does a character like Stan become this confident person at the age of only 21 that he is at the beginning of the book? How does he live his everyday life? How much of a struggle is it for someone who identifies him- or herself as neither male nor female? How is your environment, your friends, your family treating you?
Alas, I didn't get any of that. What I got instead were endless descriptions of THE most superficial stuff, like putting on make-up and clothes, wearing designer bags, showering! (OMIGOD, all those numerous shower scenes!), washing and conditioning your hair, and body care in general.
NOTHING about the everyday struggles of someone who identifies as gender-fluid.
NOTHING even remotely deep about how Stan became the person that he is today.
NOTHING about anything that goes beyond hair styles and wardrobe.
I honestly was bored out of my mind during the first part of the story.
Unfortunately, the second part that dealt with Stan's anorexia wasn't any better. Since the first part was all about his appearances and clothes, his illness has been so neglected at that point that the real severeness of his condition came out of nowhere for me. So much so that I couldn't really relate to it anymore. I really wish the author would have concentrated on THAT part of Stan's personality in the beginning, instead of throwing brands, make-up, clothes, shoes, dresses and handbags at my face.
It also didn't help that there were A LOT of descriptions that didn't matter at all to the overall story and just made for a boring read. Like
"Remembering they were out of soy milk, he wrote it on the shopping list Ben had brought. It was magnetic and stuck to the fridge, so they shouldn't forget stuff like that anymore."
Um, ok. I know that amplifying a story is important and all, but ENDLESS descriptions of stuff like that that just doesn't matter is nothing but annoying AF.
But kudos to the author for writing a book with a diverse character. I seriously appreciate that. But if looks, clothes and hair care is all there is to gender-fluidity, then I'm pretty much done with that whole trope already.
Thanks again to Julie for accompanying me during another frustrating BR!
"Feeling safe is nothing more than a state of mind."
Translation: if you keep staying in a hunted house for WEEKS while experiencing more than a dozen terrifying things, then your state of mind = YOU ALL ARE DIMWITS!
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Santino Hassell is a great writer, but he should stay away from the m/m romance genre.
How this book could even remotely be considered a romance novel is beyond me. 2 or 3 sex scenes don't make a romance if the MCs treat each other like shit 99% of the time. And so does not a weak and tentative HFN (Hassell's trademark it seems).
That being said, I also don't think that horror is this author's genre either. Because scary this was not. Predictable and drawn-out, yes. But frightening? Nuh-uh.
Unless you've never read a single paranormal book in your life, THEN this old-fashioned gothic horror story might actually scare you. Or if you're a fan of H.P. Lovecraft.
But to a modern horror fiction lover like me, the paranormal aspect of this book just felt outdated and antiquated.
So once again, Santino Hassell's great writing skills save another book from being a complete bust. So 3 stars it is, despite my complete lack of enjoyment.
"I'm not the same man I was when I first came to this city. Nothing is the same. I'm not cold anymore. I'm not lost. And when I'm worried I might lose my way, I've got someone in my corner who knows the way home."
This book turned out to be just "ok" for me in the end. The romance between Rand and Will was believable, honest and sweet. I liked how they grew together as a couple and how each on his own matured as a person at the same time. Oh, and
But everything else?
The cross-dressing theme was... Well, it wasn't really one. Will likes to glam up Ziggy Stardust-like with glitter, eyeliner and make-up when he's on stage, but the one time he fully dressed as a woman was when he got paid to do so. It's not at all like Will has a feminine side he wants to embrace.
The side characters? I still know next to nothing about Rand and Will's other band members other than their names and who they dated. Everyone else besides the MCs was pretty two-dimensional.
The villains? OTT. First, there are way too many bad guys in here (Terry, Leah, Martin, Will's parents) and yet somehow there wasn't any retribution for any of them in the end. They all just vanished and that was that.
Half an extra star for an excellent audiobook narration. I loved Seth Clayton's voices for the MCs and how he brought the story to life by giggling, snorting, munching etc.