Trigger warnings for: physical and sexual abuse, pedophilia, and voyeurism.
Disclaimer (because I feel it’s needed): If you enjoyed this book, then great – good for you. I personally didn’t, these opinions are my own. I mean no ill intent by the snide remarks I made reading this book, and I mean none in this review. Let me know why you loved it if you did, I would love to see things from your perspective.
I went into this book fairly blind, big mistake (Oh, hindsight you son a of a bitch). All I knew before heading in to this book was that: the relationship was an angsty hate-to-love romance between two men, and that it was hyped in the book community with an abundance of five-star-reviews. If I had known that this book took place in a society full of sex slaves, I would have never read it. I could overlook that (refer to the second body paragraph) but that’s not the only reason I disliked it. The writing was average, the world felt undeveloped, and I gave no fucks about the utterly forgettable characters (I genuinely can’t remember the names).
It baffles me that this book is marketed as a romance, I am shooketh (yeah, I hate myself for using that as well). The “romance” vaguely resembles a non-consensual BDSM type relationship. I’m not kink shaming (you do you boo), I know non-consent is a kink to some, but that has an agreement to act as if consent hasn’t been given – there are usually safe words in place, so at the end of the day: it’s consensually non-consensual. At its core, BDSM is built on trust, this mess isn’t. Things could change in future books, but I have no interest in the rest of this series. The romantic interest is a spoiled arsehole with collection of stereotypical new adult bad boy traits. GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALL.
I can understand how what I’m about to say could be misconstrued into one thing, so I want to make it very clear. In no way, shape, or form do I support rape. I hate when it’s used in books (TV and film) as plot twist. I get a foul taste in my mouth when it’s mentioned in books, but I can differentiate the difference between a plot device and a means to explore the values of a society or culture. Rape happens often in this book, but that’s something that comes with the territory of sex slaves (I’m not excusing it). I have seen people say the protagonist is never raped, but that’s not true. His “entrance” was prepared and he was given a blow job without consent, this is sexual assault.
Quick recap of the rape for those considering the series:
- Rape is entertainment – literally, not figuratively. Think UFC but where they try to rape each other, and the audience jerks off.
- Pedophilia is a thing. Thirteen-year olds are old enough to be “pets”
- Threats of rape are common, so is the mention of it with side characters where it happens off screen.
The writing really wasn’t anything special. It read well enough, but I found myself skimming over parts just to get through it, instead of falling in love and absorbing all the words (If I knew how to add gifs I’d put one of SpongeBob here). I wasn’t completely sold on the world. The only element that looks developed is the differences with sex slaves between the two different societies (I genuinely can’t even remember them, which speaks volumes of the 10/10 world building). This book is character driven, which I usually don’t mind – but when you don’t care about the characters it’s hard to give a shit.
One positive thing I will say about this book, is that it highlights the issue of men also being abused (physically and sexually). It’s something that isn’t talked about, but needs to be. This book could have had so much more potential. Betrayal, political intrigue, a web of lies, narcotics, come on?!