Bad Boy by Elliot Wake | Spoiler Free Review

‘You’re so lovely, I thought, when you’re lying to my face.’

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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  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. It usually felt as though everything Laney said, she made a drama of it or it was highly exaggerated. Therefore she really lacked authenticity to me, which is a huge problem as I’m a reader who typically prefers character driven stories over plot driven.

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?)

 

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Favorite LGBTQ+ Reads

Todays discussion is a Top 5 Wednesday topic where we’ll be discussing favourite books that feature LGBTQ+ characters or are by LGBTQ+ authors. Here is a link to the group if you’d like to participate in any discussions.

I’m really excited for today’s discussion, as I haven’t done a T5W in a while. But I’m also really excited because as a queer reader, I get to talk about LGBTQ+ books.

Of course I had to cheat this week and recommend a little over five books – so hopefully there will be something for everybody looking to get into LGBT+ fiction.

Highly Commended –  If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

The protagonist, Sahar is so thoughtful and I loved following her stream of conscious  Although this book features some mature themes, I do think it’s accessible for a variety of audiences. This book discusses the religious and political aspects regarding homosexuality in Iran exceptionally well.

Honourable Mention – None of The Above by I.W. Gregorio 

The exposition of intersexuality by Gregorio was great. The author does a great job of immersing the reader into Kristen’s shoes, so the reader experiences everything alongside the narrator. More over, the way Gregorio personified her characters was great. I remember it being just a little bit juvenile for me, but other than that it was a great read.

5. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

The most polarizing aspects of this book are the writing style, the main protagonist Aristotle and also the plot or lack thereof. However it absolutely captivated me and I loved reading about Ari and Dante’s budding relationship, it was very sweet and heartfelt. This book is both racially and sexually diverse and the representation of Mexican culture and the family dynamics was particularly great.

4. Jerkbait by Mia Siergert 

An incredibly heartwarming read that deals with a plethora of heavy subjects such as suicide, homophobia and gender stereotyping. Tristan is such a likeable narrator, and watching his relationship with his twin Robbie blossom was one of my favourite aspects of the story. Whilst the story is in Tristan’s perspective, the author also excellently illustrates Robbie’s tragic story unfold through Tristan’s eyes.

3. I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Jandy Nelson’s heavy metaphorically induced writing style made me quite nostalgic about Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me Trilogy. Initially I felt very alienated by it, but as I got to know the characters and essentially became apart of their complicated relationships – I couldn’t help but love this story. In a dual then and now perspective, Nelson illustrates heartbreaking moments between the twins and their journey to reconciliation.

2. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Of all the books I’m recommending to you today, this book is most definitely the tamest in regards to subject matter. It’s a cute, fluffy juvenile read, that felt really modern and I truly believe you can’t go wrong with it if that’s what you’re looking for. The progression of story was great as well. I can’t describe it to you other than how natural it felt. The author manages to construct really meaningful relationships between Simon and his friends and family and also Blue via emails. Also, the book was overall laugh out loud funny.

1. Cam Girl by Elliot Wake (formerly Leah Raeder)

Elliot Wake is one of my favourite authors. He has a hard-hitting, raw prose that is also beautifully lyrical. This book also deals with a lot of societal issues that I really appreciated and is both racially and sexually diverse. Wake is a transgender author, and has other LGBT+ related novels such as Black Iris and Bad Boy.  A lot of his work I would say is relatively dark and mature.

Thank you so much for reading my T5W list. If you have any LGBT+ books to recommend me please let me know in the comment section!