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Kamikaze Boys (English Edition) Format Kindle
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The jock and the nerd - a classic set up - but it doesn't play out the way you expect, because whether they get together or not is beside the point. Although the build-up is very nicely done, it's how they fight to stay a couple in the face of a world that either doesn't care or disapproves that drives the story. The fact that they're gay isn't the main point either - with one crucial exception, it's more their youth and supposed inexperience that causes their troubles.
I love YA-ish books where the parents are important players, and Jay Bell delivers here. I love it even more that the parents are allowed to surprise us (and their children).
For a romance, it's surprisingly unsentimental. There's plenty of teen anger in this - and that's just about right.
"Something Like Summer" has been Jay's most popular book up to this point, but I think I actually prefer "Kamikaze Boys" over that one. Interesting, that this book covers many of the same themes as John Goode's "End of the Innocence" (which I had recently mentioned here), but it has a completely different feel... I found both Conner and David to be sympathetic and quite likable characters, but it's true enough that they make a couple of very poor choices throughout the course of the novel! Oh, the reader can completely relate to their actions, but the characters do end up paying the price for their behavior. (Though rest assured---I thought the ending was splendid.)
There's plenty of drama here to draw the reader into the story, and I think most of you would enjoy it. Recommended.
The storyline is not so heart-wrenching as Something Like Summer, but it certainly encompasses an understanding of love and romance that is unmatched in today's media. I couldn't help but hold my breath at parts, hoping that the two characters would come out okay in the end. I found myself falling in love with the characters and learning that their love should be replicated in the real world. It was refreshing to see that not only was this NOT a coming-out story, nor were the characters in any way ashamed of their sexuality, but that they used it to their advantage and would challenge anyone who stood in their way. Some parts are so cute you'll wish you could've come up with it yourself first! Then, of course there are some steamy parts that depict sex in the beautiful way that it should be. This story is sweet, moving, and just plain great and I fully recommend it to anyone who wants to experience the imaginative, beautiful romance that only Bell can come up with.
You will be inspired by the characters, Connor and David, to fight against all odds and apologize to no one.
Accomplished storyteller that he is, Jay Bell has taken many of the TIME-TESTED clichés of the coming of age/first love gay narrative: dysfunctional parents, middle-class school, self-loathing school bully, smooth-talking psychologist, adoring little brother, sassy big sister, nerdy best friend and - of course - our two heroes, the honor-roll loner David along with Connor, the intimidating older student with that mysterious scar on his face; Jay has taken these elements and totally "un-clichéd" them as he has woven them into a touching and truly realistic high school gay romance which begins early on in the novel when Connor unexpectedly rescues David from the school bully.
(Thankfully, Jay advances this love story WITHOUT any of the more recent and tiresome gay romance clichés about which I have complained in many a review: truncated, totally unrealistic pillow talk - "You! Bed! Now!" - being the most egregious of them).
KAMIKAZE BOYS isn't as deep nor as multi-layered as the author's earlier SOMETHING ABOUT SUMMER. And that's okay; frankly I was glad that I, in order to let my heart rate get back to normal, didn't have to momentarily put the book down quite so many times as I did with his previous novel.
Sure, there were some scary moments toward the end of the book when the two guys were forcibly separated from one another in seemingly cruel ways. But, unlike the main characters in a multi-volume gay boy melodrama I've been forced to slowly read in installments over the last two years, Connor and David kept their heads and - trusting their instincts - never really doubted each other while they were kept apart. Like all teens, they do some stupid things. But they don't continue doing the same stupid things over and over and over again. I liked that a lot.
This is NOT a "coming out" story. Both Connor and David are already "out" in varying degrees to family and to the very few friends they have. But it does show them both "coming of age" in a powerful and loving way as they team up to "fight" (sometimes literally) those who, for selfish reasons or otherwise, would force the boys to deny the very real feelings they have towards one another.
SOMETHING LIKE SUMMER made Jay Bell an important writer in this genré - KAMIKAZE BOYS will only add to his well deserved reputation.
And, wow! Another great cover from Jay Bell's "in house" artist, Andreas!
"David and Connor conquer America. Are you ready for this?"
It's a story about two outsiders; I will not give you the plot because other people will do that until you're both blue in the face. I will tell you that these characters are definitely unique. The story line might not be but the writer sells it with some skill. It's refreshing and seductive; it sucked me right in. I do have to say that the ending was a bit 'meh' but it won't take away from the story. The whole thing is a wast improvement.
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