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Bad Boy: A Novel Hardcover – December 6, 2016
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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From School Library Journal
In a follow-up to Black Iris and Cam Girl, Wake continues the story of a vigilante group that tries to right the wrongs of Internet misogynists and trolls. This time, Wake focuses on Renard Grant, a popular vlogger who has made a name for himself by documenting his transition from female to male. When he's not online, Ren uses his new muscle mass (thanks to testosterone treatments and obsessive exercise) to work as an enforcer for Black Iris. After meeting Tamsin Baylor, Ren finds that his role in the group is challenged and old demons are unlocked. Wake's exposition is artfully crafted; he doesn't rely on controversy or chest-beating to move the plot along. Ren is a fully developed character who is able to express masculinity, femininity, contentment, and dissatisfaction throughout the narrative. Nor does Wake shy away from writing explicitly about the mechanics of sex or dating as a person whose gender is in flux. However, some of the other characters fall flat, particularly Tamsin. Those who have read the author's previous books will be able to fill in some of the missing characterizations and will appreciate another suspenseful work. VERDICT Consider purchasing where Black Iris and Cam Girl are popular or where there is a need for titles with transgender characters.—Krystina Kelley, Belle Valley School, Belleville, IL
Praise for Bad Boy:
“Wake writes with abandon and razor-sharp wit as he details the struggles and joys of being a 'self-made man'…A fast-paced, mind-bending romantic thriller from an author with humor, heart, and big writing muscles.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
"A perfect tale of moral grey areas." (Teen Vogue)
"A romantic thriller featuring underrepresented characters in a deeply honest story." (PopSugar)
“A provocative and sexually charged novel of vengeance and betrayal...This erotic and suspenseful tale offers illuminating—and often heartbreaking—insight into the psychology of its transgender protagonist and compels readers to question their conceptions about gender and desire.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Wake presents an intense, suspenseful, and unusual tale of romantic suspense that will make readers question their perceptions of gender and relationships.” (Booklist (starred review))
"A searingly modern game of cat and mouse, challenging and riveting." (L.S. Hilton, New York Times bestselling author of Maestra)
“Wake delivers in spades, crafting a story so captivating, you won’t be able to set your book down.” (RT Magazine)
"A tense and taut mystery." (New York Journal of Books)
Praise for Cam Girl:
“Raeder’s beautifully broken characters are so full of life that they leap off the page and demand that the reader pay attention to them…it’s a must read for anyone wanting a sexy deep dive into a tangled psyche and a difficult life.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
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Ren is a member of the vigilante group Black Iris. They set out to get revenge on misogynistic men who have wronged women in some way or another. Ren has a unique perspective in that he has lived as both female and male and sees both sides of the coin. His unique perspective allows him to better see the world and the people in it a little differently than the average Joe. Ren is insightful to all walks of life because it allows the reader to learn more about being transgender but also what it is like to be male versus female. Many people think they understand the opposite sex but who truly understands it better than someone who has lived both lives?
I’d like to point out one important thing about this story that I deeply appreciated. The author, Elliot Wake, teaches the reader so much about transitioning, gender, and so much more, but I never felt like I was being “schooled.” The information fit into the story flawlessly and without feeling like a lecture. Solid story aside, the insight into someone else’s shoes is reason enough to read this. Fortunately for the reader, the story is suspenseful and pulls the reader in, as well.
Side note: The author, Elliot Wake, used to write under the name Leah Raeder. Previous books include Unteachable, Black Iris, and Cam Girl (all recommended reads). For those of you who felt Raeder’s work was too lyrical (I know you’re out there), give Bad Boy a try. It still has lyrical qualities but they have matured and morphed with the author.
Wake has been going through the transition process himself, adding an authentic and fascinating perspective to the character of Ren. If you’re interested in following his transition (also recommended) head to[...] and @ElliotWake on Twitter (#WakeUpElliot).
I really don't think I can do justice to this book in a review, and I don't know that I can truly articulate how it made me feel. I'll start with the easy stuff - part of the reason why I put Bad Boy on alert months ago was not only because I couldn't wait to read more of Wake's writing, but because by reading the teaser, I had hoped to see my favorites from past novels make a cameo at least. And happiness - I got way more than I expected, with Laney, Blythe and even Ellis (and I had not expected to see Ellis; man I am SO happy about that) being in Bad Boy quite a bit. I see some other reviewers didn't enjoy the Black Iris storyline but I feel exactly the opposite. I wanted more of it, not less. I think a lot of that comes from having read and been so attached to the previous books, so I'd suggest if you truly want to enjoy this book, don't go into it blind; read Black Iris first at the very least. It will make you understand Laney so much more.
So, I honestly didn't know how I was going to feel about Ren, whether I'd be able to connect with him like I had with some of Wake's other main characters. Ren is so far beyond anything that I've ever known personally. It turns out that that's what I ended up loving the most about Ren; I feel like I really got to see so much through his eyes and it made me love Ren, not only for taking me on this journey but for being so vulnerable and open through it. I really appreciated that.
As far as other characters, Ingrid I found both fascinating and appalling; I felt like I could understand some of what she was feeling in regards to Ren and on the other hand, she absolutely horrified me. I wish I could say the same about Tamsin. I would have rather been horrified by her that not felt much at all; this is the first time I wasn't completely drawn in by one of Elliot Wake's couples and I'm rather bummed about that.
I do think that has a lot to do with how much was happening in this book. Ren's transition alone was a huge storyline, and I personally liked it being parallel to his work with Black Iris, but then we've also got his budding relationship with Tamsin, his rather ambiguous relationship with Ingrid, a big subplot with Black Iris that splintered into several directions, and it was all a bit much. Ren is such a great character, and Black Iris alone is so fascinating, not to mention what was going on with Ingrid, that I would have liked to have been able to focus on all that more, and on him and Tamsin as well.
Still, I truly loved this book. It felt like being able to catch up with old friends and frenemies (I forgot to mention, I was really shocked to see Armin here as well), and fall in love with someone new at the same time. I really hope we see more of Ren, and the rest of them too. (and more Vada! I was glad to see the glimpse of her that we did but I demand more Vada!) And I am so eager for more Black Iris novels down the line; there's so many stories that could come from it and I want them all right now. I hereby demand that Mr. Wake deliver another book immediately. Or not, but I can wish.
And on a more personal note, I don't know if authors read their reviews (I would, but I'm a raging narcissist), but if he does, I just wanted to thank Mr. Wake and his books for being an oasis at a time when I was truly starting to despair that I wasn't going to find writing out there that not only had characters that I could relate to, but also made my heart pound, made me passionate and angry and thrilled and obsessed and excited and has even made me want to write again myself, and that's really a magnificent thing. And thank you as well, for having the guts to be so vulnerable, not only in fiction but with your readers and sharing such a personal part of your life with us. Your letter to Leah at the end of this book brought me to tears. Stay blessed and happy and keep writing.