Total Star Rating: 3.5 Stars
Let me start off by saying that this book was kind of a buzzkill…not that it’s horrible and not worth reading, in fact, I knew it was going to be a sort of darker tone going into it based off of other people’s reviews on Goodreads. I would say it’s subject matter really makes you stop and think to realize some things in your life; social status, the conflicting importance of social media and how we use it, the shallowness of “insta” fame and reputation; those themes are all so totally emphasized, but in the end, how meaningful is it all, really?
What It’s About:
The story revolves around the main character, Konrad Platt, who is a 34 year old circuit-gay man who is the kind of guy on social media that everyone loves but also hates: he’s got a great body, he’s always traveling to exotic locations, at the craziest parties, Coachella, and he’s a blond/blue eyed model-esque stud with a pretty decently sized following on Instagram. He is moving to Los Angeles to get away from his ex and his new boyfriend. Konrad continues the urban gay party scene, but admits to himself over and over how he wants something more out of his life. He wants to settle down, find love, and be happy, but the problem is his own insecurities and constant obsession with his filtered image that keeps dragging him back in. No, I’m not talking about the Clarendon filter either…
What I Liked:
- Konrad as a Protagonist! He is a likeable character with his admissions of how meaningless the whole gay party scene is; you want to cheer him on and hope he finds someone. It was just so frustrating when he would go back to old habits; taking drugs, obsessing over the next party, stalking hot men on social media to messaging guys on Grindr, and lots of random sex with other hot guys as an attempt to fill the void he feels, or just because he’s bored.
- The Abuse! Now, before anyone labels me as sick, awful, or sadistic…hear me out from a simple storytelling standpoint. Konrad meets a special someone through a decent chunk of time; they message each other, he goes and visits him (not without making sure they take a shirtless picture on the beach together and post it on the ‘gram), and eventually move in together, but it takes a turn for the worse. What was truly heartbreaking about it was how Konrad was unaware of it for a long time, even with a ton of red flags popping up with the guy. He thought he’d finally found someone to be serious with, but it really went the wrong way, kind of like Sansa Stark back in Season 1 of Game of Thrones, when she was betrothed to Joffrey Baratheon…and look how that turned out…While tragic, this has to be one of the more meaningful and emotionally impactful parts of the story, one of the parts that really make the whole book stand out.
- The Darkly Realistic Undertones! While some can get into the story because its a novel about the gay urban party scene , the real impressive part comes from its dark underbelly in terms of themes. Sexual Attraction, Lust, Self Destruction, The Human condition and finding our meaning in this world is what will make this book haunt reader’s minds after they put it down. It seems shallow on the outside, but there’s something deeper and much darker than what is primarily seen on the surface.
What I Didn’t Like:
- The Urban-Gay Scene Insider Scoop…This book allows the reader to kind of see inside the inner mechanisms how how the gay party scene goes, and while it was still informative to a degree for anyone interested in the topic, the book still casts a pretty dark shadow over it all. I’m what Konrad refers to as a “non scene” gay and it seems like they just get written off as boring and not worth any time. If someone wasn’t a “masc” partying gay man with muscles and a good social media following, they’re not worth it. Like I said before, Konrad is aware of all the shallowness and insignificance of it all, but he still lets it consume his life and make it seem like the most important thing.
- The Writing Style…Konrad is the narrator of the story, but it’s very non-descriptive to the point of is it intentional to focus on the idea that he doesn’t pay attention to any of that? to which, it’s ironic since he’s all about how he appears…he describes others with barely any physical descriptions if any at all. The writing is also in a style that I’d compare to an entry in a diary. “We did this, then we did that and this happened, he said this to me and then we….” There are some areas of actual dialogue, but not a huge amount to be honest, just mostly run on sentences, like Konrad is retelling all of this to a friend.
- The Importance of Social Media…I mean, we all sort of already know that Social Media isn’t something to take all that seriously, that it’s only a small glimpse into someone’s life, and it’s heavily filtered on the positive side to the point that it looks like a big bragging contest. But the more interesting aspects were these unspoken rules people, especially gay men, have to follow on messaging people. Konrad messages several guys through the story, some that are already in relationships, and at one point he thinks to himself like: ‘he said this’ so he actually means ‘that’ like it was some secret code, or you have to wait a certain amount of time before you respond so to not look desperate, and in all honesty…it makes me depressed about the possibility of trying to be a gay man dating in this society now a days.
- Romance is Dead…This book gave me anxiety about how unaware I was about how dating worked in the gay scene, especially with social media so heavily involved, and makes me worry about myself in ever finding someone. In the story, Konrad wonders at one point if being a gay male in this world means he’s stuck in a constant stream of polygamy and partying; never actually settling down and meeting someone meaningful, but still will go on Grindr to find a random hookup, or take someone home from the gym, and I sincerely hope that’s not the case…I think you just need to seriously separate yourself from all that, and try to find something else to give your life meaning. If someone you meet can’t do that, then maybe they aren’t worth the time, as sad and disappointing as it may be sometimes.
This book is a unique read; it has a unique subject matter on the gay partying scene, but if anything, this book also showed me how I have even more determination to never get into it. I would recommend this story to anyone, straight or queer, because it does have an interesting amount of deep thinking ideas of the struggles of dating in modern times, the human condition, attraction, self image, self destruction, and finding acceptance and meaning in your life, and it makes you wonder what’s truly more important; our mental and physical happiness or how influential we are with our online presence.
Thanks For Reading!
— Nick Goodsell