Sunday, 21 June 2015

XO Blake

XO, Blake

by Avery Aster

4 out of 5

For fans of the dark comedy film Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down comes an erotic exploration in domination and submission where Ivy League students let their naughtiest desires run wild…

If you think my besties Lex, Taddy, and Vive have had some bad luck earlier this year, cut to me at Glamorama. Last thing I remembered was dancing with Diego and Miguel from my English class, when the room started… spinning. And not in a good way! We got sick. Think Regan in The Exorcist. Taddy was rushed to the hospital. Holding on for dear life, I was carried out by the boys and taken back to their dorm.

Now I’m waking up in Diego’s bed and Miguel keeps staring at me from across the room. I’ve wanted to get into these dudes’ pants since the first day of class. But Diego told me he likes to be tied up and—wait for it—spanked. WTF! The news on TV reports that last night we all got roofied. And Vive just texted me saying that someone is out to kill her. Could this semester get any more bizarre? -–Blake Morgan, college freshman, gay best friend, virgin

The Undergrad Years is a naughty new adult contemporary miniseries about first loves, independence, and everlasting friendships.

The Manhattanites are finally at college, ready to put all their nightmares behind them and to move on.  It's time to experience all that college has to offer, love, laughs and (sometimes) learning.  But are all their troubles really behind them...

Ok, this is a first - four stars for a book that I did not like.
Yes, you read that right.  I just didn't get on with it, I've read socialite-based books before, but this was like the book version of Made In Chelsea (honestly, I struggle watching the adverts for that thing, never mind the actual program).
And it's hard to pin down why, exactly.  Something about this group of upper-society darlings just rubbed me the wrong way.

So why the four stars, when I've given books that I actually like less?
It does exactly what it sets out to do.  It is a short episode in the lives of the Manhattanites (don't let the 250 page quote fool you, about half of that is tasters of different books, adverts, getting to know the author etc. The bulk of the story is about 180 pages long (8%-81% on my Kindle)).
It faces some pretty serious topics, and does so in a way that feels real.  You get to see how ignorantly the school system treat Blake for being the only openly-gay student, and that's just the prologue!
It goes on to deal with the dangers of underage drinking; of not having responsible sex; dealing with tragic accidents.  XO never patronises these subjects, nor does it over-dramatise them.  These are just a group of young people, coping with the situations thrown at them.

The romantic aspect in this is how I remember feeling at uni - you have a main crush, then there are several other guys who you really like.  In the end it doesn't matter which one of them you start a relationship with, it will feel right for that time.
Aster writes a good sexual tension between Blake and Diego.  I thought it was a little unnecessary to put in the synopsis' opening paragraph in italics about the erotic exploration etc.  Seriously, it's just a bit of rope.  It's very mild.

Ok, so all-in-all, it's not my cup of tea, so I won't be hurrying to continue with the series.
But for Made In Chelsea fans - go check out Aster's Amazon page because the series is currently on sale, with each book at only 99p.

Goodreads link

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