Corey and Angel are rival competitors in the Sing UK talent competition, until they are given a tough choice: join with three other guys and form a band, or go home. Each of the five very different young men have their own personal reasons for wanting success. For Angel, it is to be himself and break away from his family, whereas Corey just wants to sing – and so Wildcard is born.
As Wildcard progress further into the competition and the mutual attraction between Angel and Corey evolves into a fledgling relationship, restrictions are placed on them by their mentor in an attempt to manufacture a more accessible public image. Although this is something the whole groups disagrees with, the impact upon Corey and Angel, who have grown to rely on each other, could be heartbreaking.
Corey and Angel are as different as chalk and cheese. Angel’s trademark color is white, which matches his white blond hair. Corey’s is black and he is rarely seen without his trademark leather jacket that marks his rocker image. Angel is comfortable being labeled as “the gay one”, despite the issues his sexuality has caused with his family, whereas Corey knows he is gay, but does not see the need to openly flaunt it. Much of this has to do with Corey’s Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis which, in Corey’s case, means literal thinking, lack of social skills, direct speech, and sensory processing disorder among other characteristics.
As the mother of a son on the spectrum, I really identified with this story and Corey’s struggles. Though every person with an ASD diagnosis is individual with their own set of needs and idiosyncrasies, R.J. Scott has clearly thought carefully about Corey’s portrayal to ensure her reader emotionally connects with him. Although I am aware of Scott’s family situation, there are readers who won’t be and the author’s note at the end of the novel is particularly moving.
However, Boy Banned is not a story about ASD, though this helps the reader in understanding Corey and his initial need for Angel’s comfort. Boy Banned is a story about love, friendship, and identity.
Corey and Angel may be the story’s focus, but they are supported by a motley crew of secondary characters. I really enjoyed the way in which DK, Toby, Scott, Corey, and Angel become a unit, not only as Wildcard, but as friends. There is a silent agreement between them to accept each other’s faults and differences, usually with an affectionate humor and in Scott’s case, a great amount of swearing.
Because of the age of Boy Banned‘s characters I would classify it as a new adult story and Scott strikes the perfect balance between angst, romance, and the drama of the Sing UK competition. In giving her reader chapters from both Corey and Angel’s points of view, we form a deep empathy for the characters.
There are only two moderate sex scenes in the novel, but again this fits flawlessly with Boy Banned‘s plot and the personalities of Angel and Corey.
Boy Banned is a book which touched my heart and gave me hope. In my opinion it is another smash hit from R.J. Scott!