Full disclosure: I know Brett. I talk to him each year at Readercon, I've made his wife cry with beautiful reviews of her poetry, and he talked to me about this book itself. I was going to write a kinda mean review based on what I'd heard, and send it to him, but I'm not sure I'll bother sending it anymore.
I also need to tell a story before I start talking about this work, just so you understand what I thought. Back when I was reading a lot of Transformers fanfic, there was an author who wrote a couple stories. (I found them again, although I vaguely recall them being in all caps and one about Jazz getting spanked that seems to be gone. But here: read Happy Birthday, Megatron if you dare.) This, guys, is one of the worst things I've read. I mean, I know I've read some self-published bullshit and yet this...
And I'm awful because I laugh every time. So when someone tells me a book they wrote is really bad, and I'm reading something superb by them, my mind kinda vaguely thinks, 'well, it't can't be that bad. And I keep getting shocked that it is.
So some backstory: this was a multi-author universe that the boys started when they were just that. Boys. Young men, if you will. So I figured it might be some fun, even if it was offensive - which it seemed it might be. I've also seen Brett bing his wife coffee, I've seen how kind and generous he is, and I've seen him interact with other customers. I've seen him with the authors he works with, and he's always lovely. I knew he'd written this a while ago and he wasn't the same person anymore. As I mentioned, I also knew he'd grown into an amazing written, as evidenced by A Perfect Machine. (Which I'm savoring, but also scared by because Brett was very vague about the ending and now I think it might be the machine story that makes me sad at the end.)
As far as the aggressors, I wasn't either amused enough to laugh or offended enough to really hate this work on that level. (I did roll my eyes after the fourth or so time a 'cunt' - body part, not person - was described as smelly. That was also the only time this book seemed really vicious.) However, that fanfic I linked up there? Those two stories might not have the punctuation and technical writing skill this book has, but they are at least more coherent. Partly, I think, due to length: they didn't have time to get their plots quite as twisted up as this book did. And at least those stories make me giggle like crazy.
This book felt like it really, really wanted to make me laugh, but I was vaguely bored. I kinda kept reading just to see if it got better, and it kinda never did. If anything, it got more and more disconnected.
So, yeah, I'm gonna write a brutally honest, full on mean review and not send the link to Brett at all.
*Brett Savory himself gave me this title.
**A Perfect Machine. Brett signed this for me this year, too.