“Tonight you get a free dinner.” I beamed in relief, too young and dumb to know that there was no such thing.
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for this e-ARC. This was certainly… a book.
I don’t know what to feel about now that I’ve finished this. I can tell you now that this book has been mis-marketed, to say the least. I was expecting a thriller, yes, but the kind of thriller you’d pick up in the airport bookstore and enjoy the weird vibes of. Even when chaotic, horrible things happen in those kinds of thrillers, you can still walk away from it pretty easily.
This book has GRAPHIC depictions of rape. Over and over and over. It didn’t feel thrilling, it felt gratuitous. Not only that, but there’s a huge amount of religious homophobia that comes into this book that is not mentioned once in the marketing. This book is triggering on a very deep level and incredibly uncomfortable to read.
I hated the way the plot went, because it really did feel like there was too much going on. Nothing was surprising, but it was always awful! There were at least four points near the end where I thought the book was going to end but then it would keep going.
The characters felt flat, stereotypical. Even if characters weren’t stereotypical, they were flat. There were no motives, just a lot of trauma. A quote from the book itself that I think explains my feelings on the characters:
“I just think your character needs more dimension and defining qualities beyond his ambition.”
Yeah. The author has a beautiful way with words, but not so much with creating complex characters.
Should we be worried that the author had experiences like this? He mentions in his book that his main character, Jonah, would rewrite his own experiences and change only the name but keep it with the same first letter (his pseudo-self being Jacob). I feel the need to go and check in on Jonathan Parks-Ramage. At the very least, buy this book to help him pay for therapy.
I can’t say this was a bad book- it was a debut and it has a lot of potential. But it’s not a book I’d recommend. I think maybe they should put something in the front of this book warning about the graphic nature of the rape scenes.
That’s all from me.