*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Author: Ryan La Sala
Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Synopsis from Goodreads:
All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember how he got there, what happened after, and why his life seems so different now. And it’s not just Kane who’s different, the world feels off, reality itself seems different. As Kane pieces together clues, three almost-strangers claim to be his friends and the only people who can truly tell him what’s going on. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident. And when a sinister force threatens to alter reality for good, they will have to do everything they can to stop it before it unravels everything they know.
This book was really underwhelming, in my opinion. I felt really let down by the end of it. It starts off strong as Kane wakes up with no recollection of what happened, but he knows that his world is no longer the same as before. It doesn’t take him long to begin piecing together the clues that start to reveal his past to him and shape his present. He is not only trying to rediscover who he is, but he is trying to rediscover what his purpose is.
On the plus side, this book has great queer representation and has a well-written, gay protagonist! Drag queens, check! Queer characters, check! We need more diversity and this book brings it. It also has a fantastic concept with the reveries: dreamlike states that can be guided and manipulated to bring peace to the dreamer. The reveries are fantastical and magical realities that Kane and his friends are able to navigate through while remaining lucid. It’s quite imaginative. This book is certainly original–I can’t say I’ve ever encountered anything like it before, and I love that. But it also felt a bit like a hot mess, and that what quite a letdown.
There is so much going on in this book, that it just feels like someone threw all the ingredients into a Ziploc bag, added some glitter, shook it around a ton, and just dumped it out. There’s a lot of confusion throughout the book surrounding the plot and who/what the characters are and what their stories are. The author is trying to bring the teen drama and angst but it doesn’t really land. The world-building didn’t feel complete and left me feeling as though something was lacking. A lot of this story develops due to convenient plot devices and unoriginal “twists” if you can call them that. It really feels like the author didn’t try very hard and he leans heavily on the LGBTQ representation to hype up this book. When you look beneath, however, there isn’t the greatest substance, and that’s where it all falls apart.
I can’t say I’d recommend this book at all, unfortunately. This seems like the first pass, and this novel needed a few more edits and rewrites to bring out it’s true potential.