Monday, December 5, 2016

Review of Bad Boy

Title: Bad Boy
Author: Elliot Wake
Publisher: Atria
Release Date: December 6th, 2016!
*eARC kindly provided by Atria Books via NetGalley*

From Goodreads...
Vlog star Renard Grant has nothing to prove: he’s got a pretty face, chiseled body, and two million adoring video subscribers. Plus the scars on his chest and a prescription for testosterone. Because Ren is transgender: assigned female at birth, living now as male. He films his transition and shares it bravely with the world; his fans love his honesty and positivity.

But Ren has been living a double life.

Off-camera, he’s Cane, the muscle-bound enforcer for social justice vigilante group Black Iris. As Cane, he lets his dark side loose. Hurts those who prey on the disempowered. Indulges in the ugly side of masculinity. And his new partner, Tamsin Baylor, is a girl as rough and relentless as him. Together, they terrorize the trolls into silence.

But when a routine Black Iris job goes south, Ren is put in the crosshairs. Someone is out to ruin his life. He’s a bad boy, they say, guilty of what he punishes others for.

Just like every other guy: at heart, he’s a monster, too.

Now Ren’s got everything to prove. He has to clear his name, and show the world he’s a good man. But that requires facing demons he’s locked away for years. And it might mean discovering he’s not such a good guy after all.

My Review!
I’m such a fan of Elliot Wake’s books (even though I hated Unteachable). He has such an honest, unflinching writing style that is also steeped in beautiful prose. And I loved Bad Boy; it might have even been my favorite of his books yet. I still haven’t read Cam Girl; I had meant to before this. But when I received an eARC of BB, I did not have the patience so I just dived right into it. I think I ruined CG’s twist for myself, and a few other things, but I don’t think it’ll hurt my reading experience. Just as well, I’m waiting a bit to read Cam Girl. I’m also not quite ready to have no more Elliot books to read. So yeah, anyway, this book was super, super good and I wouldn’t mind more stories with these characters, tbh.

Bad Boy is told in the POV of Renard Grant. Ren is transgender, and he started a web series to share his journey with other people. I really loved the in-depth look at Ren’s transition. This is not the first book I’ve read with a transgender MC, but it’s the first that taught me so much more than I can find out through the internet. Because Elliot is transgender himself, it gave this book a depth and realness the story wouldn't get from a cis author. It was so great. And I loved Ren himself. He’s still dealing with the fallout from his transition, from his roommate and ex-lover and his family. And he’s still trying to figure out who he is. He’s charming, kind, and he is so brave to go after what he wants, even if people can’t understand it.

I loved the scenes with everyone in them. Blythe, Lainy, Armin. Ellis, who I’m glad I met. I cannot wait to read their story after meeting them. And then the addition of Tasmin Baylor, a mystery wrapped up in a package that Ren cannot seem to ignore or stay away from. They form a connection, and one that made Ren finally feel loved for who he is. With all of them together, they have formed a vigilante group that goes after assholes. Men who have done people wrong and men who have hurt women. It’s a social justice group and one that had a super dark start. And everyone who is in it are not… exactly good people. But they have good hearts; they just have an agenda that will not be thrown out no matter what.

I also loved that the book (and really all Elliot’s books) tackled head-on society’s ideas about gender and sexuality. Ren’s got an understanding of the world that not many men can say they have. He was assigned female at birth, so he has so much more respect and compassion for women, and he knows what it’s like in their shoes. So throughout this book, it dug deep into gender and society and the differences between men and women. Not the obvious, but the ones society has warped throughout history. Through Ren’s POV, the author brought up a lot of questions about what it means to be female or male. And it dug into rape culture and toxic masculinity and privilege and how people view transgender people, which definitely isn’t always positive.

From the small synopsis that had been on Goodreads, I was expecting this to be darker than Black Iris had been. But it wasn’t! Not to say that did anything to mess with my enjoyment of the book. Not at all. I was pleasantly surprised with it, and I was so intrigued to find out who the fuck is messing with precious Ren. I was reading it so fast, I hit like 60%, and was like how in the world did I get here? It was such a quick, emotional, and addicting read. I would love it if Elliot continued writing stories revolving around the Black Iris vigilante group. But I don’t know if he has any plans to. Even if he doesn’t, I’m looking forward to more of his stories. Bad Boy was such a good book, and an important one at that!


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