Monday, September 26, 2016

Review: Jerkbait

Jerkbait Jerkbait by Mia Siegert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Ten thousand people look my way
But they can't see the way that I feel
Nobody even cares to try...
-Styx, "Man In The Wilderness"

"Is there anybody out there who
Is lost and hurt and lonely too?
-Coldplay, "Square One"

Thanks to the Wattpad4 bringing Mia Siegert in for an interview a few weeks back, I was inspired to try this book out after learning what it has in common with my very own Red Rain - the lead characters are twin boys, with one (Tristan here, Alex in my book) being straight and one (Robbie here, Gabe for mine) being gay, and (I found this out from reading the book) the straight twin in each pair having a bit of an artistic streak, with an interest in writing - and let me just stand up and be counted as another guy who writes fanfic, in addition to original work.

There, though, the similarities do pretty much end, particularly in terms of genre. Siegert's twins are identical; mine are fraternal. I write urban fantasy, Siegert writes contemporary. Siegert writes Robbie's coming-out story; Gabe is already out by the time my story takes place. My book is a murder mystery full of comic-book movie references; Siegert focuses on sports and musical references. I write Alex and Gabe with a very close relationship (largely as therapy because I've long felt incomplete without a brother - and I almost had one, but that's a story for another time); it's pretty vital to Siegert's plot that Tristan and Robbie are pretty distant, at least at first.

But I'm not here to just parallel Jerkbait and Red Rain - I'd also like to talk about how much I relate to Tristan. Like him, I've got parents who don't understand his artistic leanings. Like him, I'm painfully inexperienced with romance, and have often been mistaken for gay by my parents because of it. And like him, I've had my moments of questioning my sexuality too (probably more so for me, though.) As for Robbie, well, I can't help but want to hug the poor guy every other page, in between his repeated suicide attempts and the trauma he suffers in the book's final act.

Don't be fooled by the page number given on this book's GR page - it's actually about 100 pages less than that, not even 250. Perhaps because it's so bite-sized, it feels like the plot takes a long time to get going, and then rushes to the finish line afterwards. Characters are Jerkbait's strength, as many of them prove quite dynamic (although in the case of Tristan and Robbie's aggravating mother, the character development she does get is too little too late, and it does nothing to endear her to me.)

Let's just say, though, that you'd do yourself a great disservice by not reading Jerkbait, if only for its uniqueness - and for its always-compelling exploration of the twins' relationship.

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