Series or Standalone: Standalone/Companion Novel
Genre: New Adult LGBT Romance
Publication Date: December 6th 2016
‘You’re so lovely, I thought, when you’re lying to my face.’
What I got from Bad Boy was not at all what I anticipated. And by that I mean I didn’t anticipate reading (what essentially felt like) a sequel to Wake’s 2015 release Black Iris.
Perhaps the reason I didn’t enjoy this as much is because I wasn’t a huge fan of Black Iris (as I was with Wake’s other books such as Cam Girl and Unteachable). If you enjoyed the Black Iris story more, my guess is you’d enjoy revisiting these characters. If you were content with the ending of Black Iris, I would tell you that this story is more about Ren – a trans male sharing his experiences via Youtube, living a double life working for justice vigilante group – you guessed it – Black Iris.
As I’m familiar with Wake’s work, his style of writing and characters, I was surprised I disliked parts of the narrative. Personally some of the dialogue felt a little unnatural. There are times when Ren is breaking the fourth wall and communicating information directly to the reader. I don’t really like this ever in fiction, even in small doses. However it would be beneficial for those who haven’t read Black Iris and maybe wouldn’t understand some of the content otherwise.
I can’t say I enjoyed revisiting Black Iris characters, Laney and Blythe. I’m not entirely sure why, but they felt less like themselves and more like caricatures of themselves. Laney’s dialogue also felt melodramatic, which I’m personally not a fan off, and therefore she really lacked authenticity to me.
Something that I think Wake excels at is mystery and sucking the reader into the story. He’s smart in how he chooses when and what information the reader gets. As the narrator gradually learns what’s going on in their surroundings, so does the reader and ultimately a healthy interest in the story is maintained. There is also a really good balance between the romance and the mystery elements, and didn’t feel as though either were overshadowed by each other.
Interestingly, the vibe I get from Skins is similar to the one I got whilst reading Bad Boy. The crudeness and vulgarity, accompanied with fantastic social commentary makes for a really interesting story. (Side not: Wouldn’t Kaya Scodelario be perfectly cast as Laney in an adaptation?)
Overall, I was relatively satisfied with this book, but unfortunately wasn’t as infatuated with it as I usually am with Elliot Wake’s work. Despite this, I’ll absolutely remain loyal to Wake and continue to support their work as they release more fantastic own voices novels in the new adult genre or otherwise. Elliot Wake is one of my favourite writers in the new adult genre and is definitely redefining the genre for me.