|I received a copy of this book through Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.
When reading this book, I couldn't help but think that it's basically what would happen if S. E. Hinton wrote The Outsides today, with a lot less violence of course. It's an in-depth look at the relationships between teenage boys with the added element of one of them trying to figure out his sexual identity.
Overall, it was a good book. The narration style was similar to Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, but in third person, which was a little strange and in my personal opinion, it may have been stronger if Goslee had just gone with first person. Many times while I was reading, I was thrown off by the narrator referring to the main character as Mike, because the narration style was so similar to first person that I often forgot it was actually in the third person. It really feels like Mike is the narrator and just weirdly refers to himself by name.
The narration is very causal, but often apathetic (Whatever is a very appropriate title for this book), which made it kind of difficult to relate to the characters. They all kind of just put up a facade of indifference to cover up the fact they all experiences actual emotions. This is a common technique for men and boys in real life, but I was kind of disappointed that the characters never really overcame it.
The story itself was pretty good. Mike is really annoying and clueless most of the time, but I will admit that, once he starts figuring things out, his new relationship is pretty cute and actually kind of hot at times. I'm not a big fan of reading sex scenes, but Goslee actually did a pretty good job with the hook-up descriptions.
I liked all of the various issues that Mike has to deal with as he figures out who he is, including telling his friends, dealing with his family, and accepting himself for who he is. That tossed in with being pressured into high school things like student politics and Homecoming made for an interesting array of hardships.
The other drawback for me was the language used. I understand it's from the perspective of teenage boys, but the amount of sexist and homophobic terms used was really off-putting. I was hoping that once Mike came out and discovered his sexuality, he would inspire his friends to actually think about the slang terms they used, but he himself continues to referring to boys as "giant fucking girl[s]" when they experience emotions and overuses "pussy" and "bitch" as insults.
So the story was good and the characters were descent, but there were a lot of drawbacks with the narration style and the language used. It's an interesting, but flawed, addition to the growing collection of fiction with LGBTQ characters.