Description from Goodreads: At seventeen, Adam has suspected for a while that he might be gay. His sketchbook has become full of images of good-looking men, and he isn’t attracted to any of the girls he knows. When he reveals his feelings to his devout parents, they send him to a Christian camp, warning him that there will be no room in their lives for a gay son. The last thing Adam expects is to meet someone he is deeply attracted to; unfortunately, Paul is more committed to his Christian faith than Adam is.
Adam tries to bury his attraction to Paul by concentrating on his art and his new friends Rhonda and Martin. When it becomes clear how unhappy Rhonda and Martin are at Camp Revelation, Adam and Paul are both forced to question what the church tells them about love. But with a whole camp full of people trying to get Adam to change who he is, what kind of chance do Adam and Paul have to find love and a life with each other?
*Spoilers ahead: I have listed all the warnings and whatnot I could find in the book. They do spoil some of the plot, but it’s better than to go blindly into the book*
Warnings: Homophobia, Homophobic Language, Medication overdose (supporting character overdoses on his insulin). Supporting has depression and nothing is done about it. Intense dislike towards a diabetic person and their disorder. Racist language. Racist character. Non-consensual harassment (rubbing body parts up against another unwilling person). Slut-shaming. Lastly, the view of Christianity is a harsh one, and not necessarily true (from someone who has experienced a positive view of Christianity).
*Received from Netgalley*
So the cover caught my attention and the description made it seem as if it was a good book…and it just wasn’t. I’m going to do my duty and tell you why I didn’t like it and the few reasons why I did. Prepare for a long review and quotes. Get your snacks and towels, kittens.
I started not feeling the love for the main character within the first 50 pages of the book. He’s so flighty and indecisive and while those are two traits associated with teenagers, the way Adam portrays it and how he comes across in the book makes him out to be childish. And he’s not. He’s in his final year of school, but the way he’s been written, it feels like he’s 14/15.
Those of you who are wondering if Christianity is like this – well, it depends on how harsh your church/pastor is. My old one was pretty harsh – part of the reason why I left – and this book’s just bringing up all the old feelings I had when attending the church and believing. I didn’t mark the book down because it brought up old feelings – I speak about the way faith is portrayed in the book in the next paragraph.
So I marked the book down half because of the characters/plot/dialogue (all usual reasons) but I also marked the book down because of how Christianity is portrayed, and more accurately, how the author portrays Christianity. Please note the following: I do not know the author, and therefore I am not aware of his religion, or lack of one; which is to say that I am discussing how the author writes the religion that is shown in the book, and not the author’s religion. So there are a few quotes in the book that…irked me, but I’ll mark all those quotes in the ‘quote’ section of the review – there’s a quote section because I couldn’t stop myself from commenting on the quotes.
But anyway – so the author writes from the main male character’s point of view, and he goes to Christian camp to try to turn straight – because you can pray the gay away, didya know? And obviously at the camp, there’s a lot of talk about faith and God and most of it is negative towards anything that some readers might deem not sinful (masturbation, premarital sex, etc.). Like I know the author is trying to get into the whole religious thing to show the readers how heavy the camp is, but the way he’s writing the story is just…not cool. It’s too much. I’m not sure if it’s just me and the feelings I have towards Christianity but I’m not liking the way everyone talks about faith in the book. I feel that the author is writing the Bible Camp view of faith (if you’re understanding me) with too much vigour – like he’s enjoying it.
And speaking of the parents – look, I grew up with Christian parents and family. My friendship circle and my parents’ friendship circle is basically made up of Christians (well, not mine so much anymore). I know what’s expected (from parents) and what God expects. But the parents in this novel are terrible…It’s like the author was tired the one night of trying to flesh out the parents and decided: ‘all right! I’ll make them crappy and just make them send Adam away so they won’t have to deal with him!’
Ok, so, warning – I’m going to talk about one of the characters and depression. So one of Adam’s roommates is depressed. They don’t really talk about why he’s depressed and they do absolutely nothing to help the poor guy. Adam and mostly everyone at the camp calls themselves Christians and yet they do nothing to help him? *cough cough* very unchristianlike.
The only reason why I sort of liked this book is because of three characters – Martin, Mike, and Rhonda. That’s it.
I think the author thinks we can read Adam’s mind. He makes Adam think/say sentences and he’s like ‘ah, yes, I was thinking about this.’ like where? Please show me. Do you know what that’s called? Inconsistency.
Another problem I had with the book was the fact that Adam met one of the male characters – his love interest – basically immediately had a crush on him *cough cough instalove* and then when the love interest and Adam have a disagreement, Adam stops having a crush on the love interest.
“It’s about a preacher who uses an app to brainwash his followers into believing God is speaking to them on their phones.”
– I will literally pay you to be able to read this instead of the book.
“Two boys shopping for clothes,” Greta says. “How interesting.”
– So if boys can’t shop for clothes then they can’t wear them, right? And also let’s just bring up the fact that if they were two girls shopping together no weird thoughts would be there (but then again we could argue that if the one girl is a confirmed lesbian, the other would surely follow – if we were to play by the rules shown in the book.
– A camp named after the book in the Bible that’s about the end of the world? Yeah, ok. That’s what the book’s about, right? Hopefully the Bible hasn’t changed the last time I read it. Which was in high school.
Turns out khakis and polo tops were the only things we’re allowed to wear at the camp.”
– Because jeans and a tank top will turn you to sin.
“Screens get between you and God.”
– Except the Bible tells us that God is everywhere and the only reason why screens get between us and God is because we allow it to.
“The way a man finds another a man’s wife attractive. And you know the commandment against acting on that.”
– ok A: If you’re happy in your marriage, you shouldn’t be looking at other women.
B: I’m like half sure that even thinking about finding another’s man’s wife is lust or covetousness (because women are property of their husbands – right?).
“I don’t know if I would compare being gay to being addicted to drugs.”
“Both end in death and destruction.”
– Hang on – how does being gay make you more likely to die? Romeo and Juliet were straight and they died. Gatsby was straight(ish) and he died. Jack Dawson was straight and he died (ok let’s stop with all the Di Caprio references).
“Rhonda gave everyone a scare yesterday. And she may have hurt the reputation of the camp.”
– The…reputation…of a camp that converts (or tries to convert gays or stop sinners or whatever)…is good? Oh right, people think they can pray the gay away.
Sarah is sitting next to Paul. I watch her as she takes his hand in hers. She looks into his eyes while she sings out of key at the top of her legs.
– *whispers* is that not a sin? Because seriously my youth had a whole talk on how to hug the opposite sex. Spoiler alert: Approach from the side, hug must not last more than 5ish seconds.