Author: Heidi Cullinan
Length: 460 Pages
Category: Contemporary, New Adult
At a Glance: Antisocial is an outstanding book and one that I would highly recommend.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: A single stroke can change your world.
Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.
Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.
Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.
Review: Antisocial was one of those novels that left me both educated and entertained. I have read a few other stories that featured asexual, or ace, characters before, but those often left me with no real sense of better understanding just how someone who identified as ace really coped with all the emotions and questions they had about their sexuality. With this book, I felt author Heidi Cullinan truly plumbed the depths of what it means to continually grapple with trying to identify exactly what you are experiencing when you finally come to understand that the way in which you experience love for another person may manifest differently than your peers. Even now I am fumbling with trying to explain why this book felt so genuine—why Skylar seemed to resonate with me as a person who I could relate to, just because he was an average joe in so many ways.
He and Xander evoked such a deep emotional response from me—I was shocked at how much I wanted to protect what they had—and how excited I was when they allowed each other to be who they were without forcing themselves or their relationship to fit societal norms. But, mostly I fell in love with these two men because they became so real to me due to the outstanding abilities of Heidi Cullinan to wrote such awesome characters and develop a gorgeous story for them to inhabit.
The beauty of the title Antisocial was that it could have been applied to nearly every character in the book. Xander was grumpy, shy, impatient and uninterested in developing friendships. The few friends he had were kept at arm’s length, primarily because he was not interested in being hurt yet again. He’d had a difficult time in high school, having been bullied repeatedly, but it was not just that which kept Xander’s feelings locked away. He simply did not have patience for many people, and his art was his main means of escaping the world. So, when he discovered that Mr. Popular, aka Skylar Stone, was going to take over the all-important media campaign for his senior art project, Xander was fit to be tied.
Skylar, on the other hand, was intrigued by Xander. He always attacked a project with his full attention, but Xander was different. Rather than being repelled by Xander’s gruffness, Skylar found himself drawn to the quiet artist. But Skylar was a master at hiding his real self, using his charm and good looks to date a myriad of people so that he could glean important political information to give to his father in the hopes of gaining his attention. That was why Sky was studying for law school—so that he could get in to Yale and garner his dad’s approval, something that was more important to Skylar than breathing itself. Skylar could never let anyone see the real man beneath the shining exterior, particularly because he wasn’t so sure who that man was or what, if anything, attracted him sexually. His life was a lie, and the fear that someone might discover that terrified him.
When these two men collide, secrets are unlocked that will prove to be shocking to both of them. Not only that but a relationship will begin to develop that will chart new territory for both men, allowing them to discover along the way what it means to give and receive love that is genuine and fragile. Never rushed, always careful, the way in which Skylar and Xander explore their attraction is beautiful to watch. Antisocial is not your conventional romance; it is so much more than that. It is a deliberate courtship based on mutual respect and discovery. Love blossoms in this story because two people allow their love for the other person to be the guiding force between them; is it a transcendent love that defies description or pattern; it is raw, real and incredibly sensual. At times, in the intimate moments between Xander and Skylar, I was hyperaware of being the third party in scenes that were so honest and emotional that I felt almost voyeuristic. Yet, I also knew the author was inviting me in, allowing me to see and understand what real, unselfish love really is.
I am so sorry I can’t fully explain why this story was so satisfying for me, why I felt that I was a part of some great moment when this novel finally finished, but I did and it was. I will merely say that Antisocial is an outstanding book and one that I would highly recommend.
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