Rating: 4 stars
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The band Ares rocketed to stardom and over the last five years has known incredible success. But it’s lead singer and lyricist, Ben Easton, has hit rock bottom. Drugs and depression have left him without hope and believing himself beyond saving. Out of choices and desperate for help, his close friend decides to contact Ben’s ex, Stan.
Stan Novikov has made a good life for himself as a fashion writer in New York. He’s known in the industry and, if he’s not completely happy, then at least he can call himself content. And then he gets a call from Tone asking for help. Ben saved Stan once and Stan wants to repay the favor, but it’s more than that. Ben was the great love of his life and being close to him again reminds Stan of all the good times and the bad. It won’t be easy, but if Ben is strong enough to tackle his demons and Stan is brave enough to risk being hurt again, they might have a chance to start over.
The Lost Boy is a direct sequel to Anna Martin’s novel, The Impossible Boy, and these books must read in order. I have to admit, I’m a bit conflicted over my review of this one. On the one hand, I love Stan and Ben and it was wonderful to see more of their lives. On the other hand, The Lost Boy felt stodgier and less defined than its predecessor and it was harder to connect with the story and it’s characters this time around.
When The Lost Boy starts, five years have passed and following a breakup, Ben and Stan have gone their separate ways. Ben is at his worst and when Stan re-enters his life, Ben’s in a fragile, broken state. It was obvious from events in The Impossible Boy that Ben was never going to do well under the pressures of band life and his descent into self destruction is believable and heartbreaking. Stan feels a bit more like a stranger and I won’t say more about this because I don’t want to give away a key aspect of the story. But one of my main frustrations is that it’s never really clear why these two broke up. Ben was starting his slide into drugs, but I think this part of the plot is seriously lacking and that The Lost Boy would have felt more complete if we’d been given a more comprehensive exploration of the breakup. Additionally, the romance between Ben and Stan feels flat this time around. It’s almost perfunctory and impersonal. Their sexual interludes are passionate enough, but the actual development of their relationship is lacking in depth. So many aspects of this new romance read as routine and expected and out of step with these two characters, who were once unique and original.
In some ways The Lost Boy is a strong follow up to The Impossible Boy. Ben’s struggles with his addiction and his mental health are well written and handled deftly. But the relationship between Ben and Stab lacked the magic of the first novel and I struggled to connect with them as I once did. If you enjoyed The Impossible Boy, then there’s still a lot to like about The Lost Boy and I think most people will enjoy revisiting these much loved characters.