Rating: 5 stars
Buy Link: Lulu.com
I’m just going to lay it all out here. This review is in no way going to do this book any justice. If, after reading this review, you find it interesting and want to buy it, know that you’ll love it twelve times more than you thought you would. If you’re on the fence, it is entirely my fault. I volunteered to write this review because it is high on the list of my favorite books of all time and I wanted to share it with anyone who hasn’t heard of this obscure little gem. Then I sat down at the computer and immediately became paralyzed. What do I say? This book is f*%@ing awesome? I mean, it is. But it’s also extremely violent, wickedly funny, and morally ambiguous. It is so disturbing at times it will make you squirm, but then it becomes all sorts of heart-warming. It’s messed up. And it will mess you up too. So there’s caveat #1. I warned you.
Caveat #2: You have to really want to read this. Richard Rider decided to write this for his friends and didn’t think anyone else would read it. He has actually said this, and it’s cute how humble he is about his insane amount of talent. As a result, he uploaded it to lulu.com, and that is the only place you will be able to buy it. The formats are, therefore, less than desirable, but even if you have to squint your eyes to read the teeny-tiny words on your Kindle like I did, it will be worth it. Rider has also said that he’d e-mail you another format for free if you choose to buy it. He’s nice like that. So it might take some effort, but maybe in this world of one-click shopping it wouldn’t hurt to have to take an extra couple of steps to remind us of the hardships of our forbearers.
Now you should decide if you want to read it. This story begins as all stories should — with a botched up burglary that results in the voluntary kidnapping of one dramatic, infuriating, ridiculous young boy. Lindsay Brown and his gang of off-beat criminals are trying to steal some jewels. And instead of it going smoothly, as they all expected, Lindsay ends up shoving the barrel of his gun to the overly made-up head of Pip Valentine, a young boy who is taken in by the action and, instead of running from the attack, invites himself along on the escape. Now Lindsay’s stuck with a 19-year-old boy who would rather sit around with a gruff, cantankerous older man all day than return to his lottery-winning parents who have cashed in on their fame and have forgotten they have a son. It would seem to be a win-win for a time, since the plan is to extort a ransom, but in the meantime, Lindsay realizes that Pip has no plans of leaving and Lindsay is trying to remind himself why he wants him gone.
One of the reasons this novel is so successful is because Lindsay and Valentine are the most unlikely of couples, yet they just work. Their relationship is hardly ever sweet. It’s not unusual for Lindsay to stick the barrel of a gun in Pip’s mouth while they’re having extremely intense, scorching hot, frequent sex, for instance, but their kinks are made for each other. The intensity and passion of the relationship is palpable. While Lindsay spends most of the time complaining about the kid — his overly outrageous clothing, the way that he speaks, and pretty much everything else about him — he wakes up one day to find that he has become an addiction that has turned his world upside down. Quite out of the blue, Lindsay realizes that he loves Pip, and he continues to question if that’s something he’s willing to accept.
While the interaction between the two often gives off a vibe of an abusive relationship, then something like this will happen:
Still, Lindsay stops getting dressed, even though he’s only half-done, because he gets this urge to ambush the kid with a hug. Just that, nothing else. He wraps his arms around Valentine’s skinny body and pulls him close and rests his cheek on the still-damp hair and inhales the cherry-almond scent of his shampoo, and Valentine says, “Oh!” in a really odd way, like he’s just read a particularly interesting fact on the back of a Penguin biscuit wrapper. Lindsay’s got his eyes shut but he can feel the kid’s hands creeping up his bare arms, over his shoulders. One stays there and the other comes to rest on the back of his neck, fingers playing idly with the ends of his hair, and several minutes pass without sound or movement, just the gentle thud of heartbeats.
“What’s that for?” Valentine asks, when Lindsay finally lets him go.
“Don’t know. Nothing. Just seemed the kind of thing you’d like. BAM, surprise ninja cuddles.”
Here’s the thing. This novel has one of the most frustrating, agonizing, tantrum-worthy endings I’ve ever read. Please be responsible and pad your e-reader before you hurl it across the room. Know in advance that, if you don’t purchase all three installments of this series, you will be extremely sorry. I’d like to say that it gets better and yes, it does, but you will want to personally murder Richard Rider before you get to that point. I’m here for you. I will talk you through it and you’ll be grateful for the experience when you reach the end. In fact, I’ll be back in a couple of days to give you a review for the second book, 17 Black and 29 Red, and also share some gossip about how it’s not at all connected to those One Direction boys. If that isn’t a teaser, I don’t know what is. So go give it a read and seriously, don’t thank me. It’s what I do.