ORIGINALLY POSTED AT REVIEWS BY JESSEWAVE WHERE I RECEIVED THE BOOK AS FREE REVIEWING COPY
David and Connor meet in high school, where David is a junior and Connor is a senior. Connor protects David from bully and their story starts from there. Before I go any further, another warning - when they meet David is almost seventeen, but not yet, and Connor is nineteen and yes, they are have sex while David is considered underage. If that bothers you, you should probably stay away from this book. I have no problem whatsoever with reading about teenagers having sex, since I do not see why something that happens so frequently in real life should not be portrayed in fiction, but I understand that other readers may have a problem with it, hence the warning.
Their love story is actually quite beautiful. Both David and Connor are very believable, very flawed but still likeable characters, and I really enjoyed their interactions. I really enjoyed that the writer showed them not having perfect sex initially as I thought it was sweet and believable. I also really liked how David's attitude towards Connor changed slowly and believably, and how he saw the real Connor behind the facade. To put it simply, the writer totally sold me on their love and on the idea that they may have a future. It is not an easy thing to do, considering that the guys are so young, and usually I am thinking "oh, you will find you may think that you found your true love, but who knows what you will say several years in the future" when I am reading about teenagers, but this author managed to convince me that they have real connection. I am especially happy because as much as I enjoyed this writer's books in the past, I did not think that writing romantic storylines is something that he would be good at for some reason. I changed my mind after reading this book.
Several secondary characters were just as multidimensional and flawed as the main characters. I especially liked David's father and Connor's parents, not because they particularly appealed to me, but because they felt like real people, who make mistakes and still try their best even when their best may not be enough.
As you could probably see from the blurb, the conflict in the story is mostly external; a lot of things are against David and Connor and they do not take the beatings the world has to offer them sitting down. Let me be very clear on something: I am a reader who can really enjoy the fictional revenge trope. Actually, let me clarify that; I do not usually go looking for stories with revenge in them, but if the author manages to make me fall in love with the character and I feel that grave injustice was committed towards such character, I can get very bloodthirsty and will tolerate a very high level of fighting back and doing bad things towards those who wronged them. A perfect example of a story where revenge worked for me is of course "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas. For me, Edmond Dantès had every right to go after those who betrayed him and do whatever he wanted to them and more. The main reason I am sharing with you some of my likes and dislikes is to show that if I consider such a trope well done, I may like it very much.
Unfortunately, I am not sure if this trope worked for me in this book as well as it could have. It is not that I did not like David and Connor fighting back (there is only as much victim of the bullying can take) and I surely do not mind seeing bullies getting a taste of their own medicine in fiction -- especially when the author portrays the level of pain and despair very well and makes me believe that the person just cannot take it anymore -- so I was okay with that, but the problem for me was probably that Jay Bell is too good of a writer. His characters are vivid and realistic, his settings are well-portrayed and I just kept thinking that something like this felt too real, if that makes sense, and I wanted these issues addressed in more realistic manner. Do not get me wrong, David and Connor fighting back DOES get addressed, but especially for David, it gets dealt with in such an over-the-top, unfair and unjust manner, in my opinion, that I could not help but want them to *stop* addressing the issue and leave David the heck alone. I thought that the point the writer was making was that David did not really need any help, but I felt that he really did need a lot of help, and the "help" he got he was much better without. Of course it is not David's fault that he needed such help in the first place and I really cannot say more without spoilers, but that whole part of the storyline just did not gel for me as much as it could have.
Despite my issues, it was a very enjoyable book overall. Recommended