Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The New Boy, Maddy Linehan

The New Boy

A nice Young Adult story about two teenage boys, divorced parents, close friends and family.

*** This review has slight spoilers. ***

- Review by Cindi

I don't read young adult books.  As a matter of fact, I normally steer way clear of them.  I want adult stories and I feel a bit funny about reading about young love especially when there is a sexual relationship involved.  I read so few YA books that I don't even have a shelf for them on Goodreads (and I have shelves for everything on Goodreads).  So if I dislike YA stories so much, why did I pick this one?  The cover.  My blog partner can attest to the fact that I (on occasion) will buy a book strictly for the cover.  It's rare as I  do not always even notice the covers on the books I read but there are those times when one stands out and I will do an impulse buy without even looking at the blurb of the book.  That was totally the case with The New Boy.  Yes, I am aware that the cover model is young.  And no, that is not why I love the cover. 

Alex is a sixteen-year-old gay boy who has the perfect boyfriend in Gary.  Gary is eighteen and he and Alex have been a couple for two years.  Gary is not a very nice guy.  Everyone from Alex's best (female) friend Andie to his newly divorced parents feel that Gary is wrong for Alex.  He's bossy.  He's condescending.  He treats Alex like a small child.  He is constantly striving for perfection and he is adamant about Alex doing the same.  Alex is not exactly happy in the relationship but he sticks with it because he fears being alone in a small town where there is not a big gay community.  Everything is going as it always does between Alex and Gary until Alex gets new neighbors, the Andersons.  The Anderson family consists of the parents, a teenage daughter and a teenage son, Dexter (Dex).  The moment Alex spots Dex from a window, he knows that what he felt for Gary will never be the same.  The only problem?  Dex is straight.

Dex is the complete opposite of Alex... and Gary.  Outgoing, fun, not shy or intimidated by authority.  Everyone loves him.  Everyone wants him.... including Andie.  

This is a cute story with a few minor issues that I will come back to.  It is told mostly through a series of diary entries where Alex writes down almost every detail of his life, especially those after he meets Dexter and his sister.  His parents have recently divorced and his mother felt that by keeping a journal (I keep one so I can't bring myself to call it a diary) he would be able to deal with the issues involved with the split of his parents.  I found this to be a unique way of telling the story of Alex and Dex.

There are quite a few interesting secondary characters that play a big part of the story.  Andie is the ultimate best friend for a gay teenage boy.  There's Dexter's sister and parents, Alex's parents, Gary and others.  Dex and Alex start out as friends early on and it eventually turns into more.  This more is surprising as Dex has never been attracted to boys before and has had quite a few sexual relationships with females in the past.  This was a nice friends-to-lovers story as well as a gay-for-you.  I don't normally buy into the gay-for-you aspect so I found Dexter's instant acceptance of what he was feeling for Alex to be unrealistic.  Did it take away from the story as a whole?  Not really.  Also, Dexter's parents were a tad too accepting and understanding of his suddenly switching teams, so to speak.  Don't get me wrong, I am all about parents who support their children regardless of who they love but I found this to be extremely unrealistic (they handed him condoms right after inviting Alex to spend the night and told them to be careful?  They are 16-year-old kids!)

This is written about teenagers so there are the typical teen issues and drama that normally pushes me away from this type of story.  Thankfully the book was not bogged down with them.  

The relationship between Alex and Dexter is written well.  The one with Gary, not so much.  Gary is a typical bastard and he is a very good bastard.  Then the author threw in his reasoning for being that way and it didn't fly for me.  He and Alex had been together for two years and there is evidence of specific things happening sexually between them during that time.  For the author to toss in Gary being asexual and not able to get turned on?  I didn't buy it.  For two years, he never got an erection when he and Alex were fooling around and Alex didn't question that?  No.  I don't think so.  They were together for two years and regardless of the ages of the characters involved, I believe that questions would have been asked at some point.  The break-up between Alex and Gary was handled a bit too long after the fact in my opinion.  There was no cheating or anything like that but I felt that that particular relationship should have ended earlier and not dragged on for so long.  I also felt that the author trying to make him a somewhat nice guy toward the end didn't work.  He was a good bastard and probably should have stayed that way but that's just me.

This was a good story.  I enjoyed reading the journal entries and watching as Alex and Dexter moved toward each other as more than just new friends.  I enjoyed the back and forth between all of the secondaries.  There are a few sexual situations but nothing that was awkward or even not age-appropriate (but there is one instance where Andie touches the semen that was wiped on the bed earlier... hmm... ew???)  There are quite a few editing issues that were a bit frustrating but not so bad where I almost stopped reading.  The ending was unrealistic considering the ages of the characters involved but it did end well.

 Overall, an entertaining read.  I would read more by this author.


  1. That is an impressive cover. I buy books from covers at times. Or they influence me heavily, that's for sure. Interesting sounding YA book. I'm always glad to see LGBT YA books available. It's very important.

    1. It is very important. I loved the cover as soon as I saw it. It's also very fitting to the character and the story. It was a pretty good book. So good that I immediately read another YA by the same author. That one I didn't enjoy that much so I didn't really even review it.

      There are times when I don't even notice the covers but then there are those times when one will stand out... like this one.

  2. I've never heard of this book before but I'm putting it on my Wishlist. It looks like a great read! Good review Cindi!
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages

    1. Thanks, Kimberly. For a YA, it really was good. :)