Sex & Violence

Sex & Violence - Carrie Mesrobian I almost didn't read this. The blurb had a bit of a catch, but it made Evan sound like your typical player in the new adult genre. This book is more YA than New Adult. Evan is technically in high school throughout. I also thought that the title was flashy and attention grabbing, but made me think that this would be a smutty book-- it is not. The cover art vaguely makes sense now, but I think that it would appeal to more readers with a different title and cover. So, I almost didn't read it. I'm glad that I did. I wasn't convinced that I should read it even after the free sample. The sample doesn't get you all the way through the inciting incident, where Evan is beaten nearly to death by a group of boy who are out for blood after Evan gets it on with girls they consider "theirs." I feel like that sort of event could have been written badly and played out for the reader worse in so many ways, but Mesrobian does a GREAT job.

After Evan is beaten, hospitalized and heads with his dad to their ancestral family home on Pearl Lake in Minnesota, the book really takes off. This book has a good amount of both sex and violence in it, but it's not particularly gratuitous, and it's really not about the reader playing the voyeur to that type of thing as some books are. This is an excellent portrait of a guy dealing with the aftermath of a trauma and really coming to terms with himself and who he is.

This book is classified as YA, but I don't know how I would feel about teens reading it. The message is a good one. Evan does eventually heal and find himself-- and not in the obnoxiously angsty way that so many heroines and heroes do in YA and New Adult literature in particular-- he more comes to terms with things and works things through in a surprisingly realistic and believable way. But I wouldn't feel good about reading this aloud to a class per se because there is A LOT of sex, drug use, violence and language. I read this book for pleasure and so I found it compelling, honest and realistic, and I know that the situations that Evan is during his summer on the lake are probably pretty common for teens, but it is a bit heavy for a teen audience.

I was also hesitate about this book because there was purportedly no "romance" in it. That is true, there is no central romance that "saves" Evan from himself. He does all the saving himself. There are several girls who are involved with Evan throughout the book that added the necessary level of intrigue that a romantic plot usually provides.

I found Evan's voice refreshing and FUNNY. I laughed out aloud his descriptions and inner monologue more than once. The surrounding characters who spend time with Evan on the lake are also well-cast and well-written.

Overall, I highly recommend this book, especially if you were put off by any of the things that initially stopped me from reading: the blurb, the title and the cover.