Author: Paul Micheals
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I'm really tired of coming of age stories being obsessed with sex. I'm also really tired of plots that revolve around men being beasts that can't possibly do anything in the face of a beautiful woman. There's a lot Paul Micheals put into this story that could have been good, if it weren't for all the weird sexist microaggressions and melodrama.
Sixteen-year-old Alexi's father has recently died and his mother is now in the hospital due to a premature delivery of his sister. Shady dudes come up and are like, "Hey, wanna do shady work with us?" At first he's like, "No man, my dad said to avoid dudes like you." But then he's like, "Fuck, we're going to have so many bills."
Needless to say, this doesn't end well for him.
He gets tied up in shady business, falls in love with a seventeen-year-old sex worker he doesn't really know at all, and is suddenly suffering intense emotions above and beyond puberty. Then he finds out he's got this "uncle" dude who needs him for some reason and they should go to Sicily.
For the most part, the writing's pretty decent. But then towards the end the dialogue gets so hamfisted I'm rolling my eyes. There's some interesting worldbuilding and dynamics tossed in the salad, but they're never really explored and almost all worldbuilding is explained through lengthy exposition.
Oh, and right. The whole "men are beasts" thing. Sure, you've got the goddess of temptation, whevs. You've got dude with intense emotions. But here's the problem: pretty much not ever is anyone able to control themselves in this book and the one dude who does ends up getting killed for it because the person he's dealing with has no control.
So what's the problem with portraying people this way? Well, it strips them of culpability. And what is a major issue we have with sex and culpability? Basically, when you say that men can't control themselves or boys will be boys, you're basically reinforcing rape culture. And when you pair it with a whole bunch of sexist microaggressions and creepy feelings about sex workers, you double nail that in.
If men really can't control themselves and were just mindless slaves to their hormones, we should really do something about that. Sounds like a serious problem that shouldn't be foisted off on everyone else.
But as much as I can fume about that, the book wasn't nearly as awful as a lot of the ones I've been drudging through lately. It was okay. But just okay.