Title: Love, Joy, Heartache and Pain
Author: John H. Ames
Publisher: Ai Press
Pages/Word Count: 207 Pages
At a Glance: While I admire this author’s ability to represent young adult gay themes, this particular anthology did not meet my expectations.
Reviewed By: Taz
Blurb: A collection of new entwined stories by best-selling Young Adult author, John H. Ames. Love that reaches beyond the boundaries of the physical realm…
Swapatize! – The not so unrealistic detailed account of how my best friend and I swapped bodies for a short period of time. -High school is one of the most excruciating and painful periods of any teenager’s life. To Kyle, it’s hell on earth. Being the target of the jocks made him hate high school more than anything in the world. All he has is his best friend and the center of the jock’s interest, the beautiful Kylie Bursnell. But Kylie is not your typical beauty. She hates the jocks even more than Kyle, especially Lucas Edward Johnson, a jock who is madly in love with her and Kyle’s forbidden dream. After a bizarre and freaky night, they swap bodies and are force to live each other’s live. Can this actually be true? Has Kyle’s dream come true? Will he be able to love Lucas Edward Johnson unconditionally until the end of time? Or is their love nothing but a beautiful dream enveloped in heartache and pain?
The Spirit Indestructible – Brandon Angelo William has it all. He’s hot, popular, shy, humble, and one of the typical and regular guys in high school. But, unbeknownst to everyone, he’s a closeted gay teen who came out to his parents the previous year. They loved and accepted him with open arms so what more could Brandon want? Love. The one thing that his soul and body need. After a late night out with his best friend, Kevin, Brad sees one of the most beautiful guys he has ever laid eyes on. But could the teen in front of him be real? Or is he the legendary hitching ghost that everyone talks about? Brad needs to find out and what he discovers shocks him and changes his young life forever…
The Lake View Psychopath – Jocks beware, he’s here and he’s not scared. Ashton Hall hates his existence at Lake View High. The jocks have made his life a living hell and his friends have completely turned their backs on him. Why? For being gay and dating the love of his life, Austin Young. Almost overnight, they became the center of every joke and every bully’s paradise. To make matters worse, even the school’s coach allows his ‘jock superstars’ to make fun of them.
But everything the night Austin Young is brutally murdered by the jocks and they walk free. Something snaps inside Ashton’s head and the only think he can think of is revenge. Will Ashton come to his sense and let Austin go? Or will he become one of the greatest serial killers of all time?
Review: John H. Ames has an innocence about his writing style that places the reader right inside the head of an adolescent. Not quite mature enough to fully see to the heart of situations, his characters experience life raw and emotionally.
It was clear from the opening pages that Mr. Ames spent a lot of time getting to know his characters and how their lives intertwined throughout the three stories. He creates three different protagonists, each of whom are on the verge of coming out, and who experience love intensely. Unfortunately, there were far too many elements to the writing that distracted me from falling into the stories themselves, and this took away from my overall enjoyment of the reading.
Most notably was the wordiness. The author presents a lot of description in his writing. Description of places, actions, thoughts, and feelings. His prose is often repetitive, whatever point he is making driven home three or four times within the same paragraph or page. It was as if he thought the reader needed to have every scene explained and re-explained in order for us to grasp what was happening. In this book, some serious editing to pare down the sheer volume of words would have served the stories well.
Add to this the way he used words to describe simple actions—Immediately is one that comes to mind. Rather than a character doing something, he would “immediately” do something. Also, laughter would “escape” from someone’s mouth, or cries, or some other sound. There is no place for an oral sound to come from other than from a mouth, so it does not need to be stated. This would not have been an issue for me except for the number of times this sort of thing occurred throughout the three stories. Finally, there were enough editing and spelling issues that I was distracted mid-reading. A main character, Cooper, was spelled as Cooper and Copper within the same paragraph in one instance.
So, while I admire this author’s ability to represent young adult gay themes, this particular anthology did not meet my expectations.
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