Something Like Thunder looks at events that happened during Jay Bell’s Something Like Spring and leads into the previous book in this second series, Something Like Lightning. As you can imagine, this review will contain spoilers of all kinds and the books must be read in order.
Nathaniel Courteney looks like he has it made with a supportive family, a part-time job tutoring other students, and his best friend Rebecca. Where his perfect life falls apart is that his brother Dwight uses Nathaniel as a punching bag, and Rebecca thinks he really isn’t gay and that they would be a good match. What Nathaniel is slowly realizing is that the boy he tutors, Caesar, is adorable. Straight, but adorable.
After one particularly bad incident with Dwight, Nathaniel confides in Caesar’s father, Mr. Hubbard, who offers a safe haven from the violence. Nathaniel and Caesar grow closer, but not in the way that Nathaniel wants them to.
The turning point comes during a road trip to visit Nathaniel’s grandparents where he finally admits his feelings for Caesar and finds out that Caesar loves him in return. The two boys can finally become boyfriends and take their relationship to the next level. Soon, however, the honeymoon is over as Nathaniel and Caesar find less time to be together, with stolen moments here and there that are just not satisfying for either of them. Even though the guys keep seeing each other on the sly, eventually meeting up at Yale, things are still not easy. Nathaniel is rooming off campus with best friend Rebecca, while Caesar is staying in the dorms, struggling with his course load. With all these complications, the men have to struggle to make things work between them.
Where to begin is easy, where to stop, not so much. I feel like this is a short review for a long book, but if you read Something Like Lightning, you already know some of what goes on between Nathaniel, Caesar, and even Jason Grant and the Hubbards.
The focus of Something Like Thunder is Nathaniel Courtney, who played a big role in Something Like Lightning, but here we get to see his past, his pain, and what made him the man he was in the previous book. Nathaniel was a very different boy, growing up as a mama’s boy with an abusive brother, and an indifferent father. These circumstances could have broken a lesser man, but instead brought out Nathaniel’s sensitive and overly forgiving side. But a man can only forgive so much before he insulates his heart from further pain.
We also meet up with Caesar again, and are given further insight into his personality and what made him tick from then until now. One thing I am sure you will notice in his journey is that he may appear the confident hot-shot, but he is fragile and insecure underneath all of the bravado.
Each time I read a book by Bell, I am astounded by his ability to world build and to interconnect all of the stories and characters so seamlessly. It doesn’t matter that I know something will happen or that I have inside information. Every time a new piece is added to the story or series, I describe it as a piece of a puzzle that I did not know was missing, but once in play, feels like it was always meant to be.
To be honest, with such a large cast of characters spanning the Seasons and Storm series, I will admit to having gone back to previous books to help me sort out some characters and facts. My brain was quite simply full. This would have to be my only concern with the books, especially since I read or listen to quite a few books between installments.
That being said, I have loved every book, and will most assuredly re-read or re-listen to all of the books one day in the future. If you haven’t read the previous books and have gotten to to this point in my review, I say “don’t delay, start the series right away!” (yeah, that sounds cheesy but the books are just so good).