Bad Boy by Elliot Wake
Published by Atria
Published on December 6, 2016
Genres: Suspense, New Adult, LGBTQ
Format: Audiobook, eARC, Hardcover
Source: Audible, NetGalley, Publisher
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Vlog star Renard Grant has nothing to prove: he’s got a pretty face, chiseled body, and two million adoring video subscribers. Plus the scars on his chest and a prescription for testosterone. Because Ren is transgender: assigned female at birth, living now as male. He films his transition and shares it bravely with the world; his fans love his honesty and positivity.
But Ren has been living a double life.
Off-camera, he’s Cane, the muscle-bound enforcer for social justice vigilante group Black Iris. As Cane, he lets his dark side loose. Hurts those who prey on the disempowered. Indulges in the ugly side of masculinity. And his new partner, Tamsin Baylor, is a girl as rough and relentless as him. Together, they terrorize the trolls into silence.
But when a routine Black Iris job goes south, Ren is put in the crosshairs. Someone is out to ruin his life. He’s a bad boy, they say, guilty of what he punishes others for.
Just like every other guy: at heart, he’s a monster, too.
Now Ren’s got everything to prove. He has to clear his name, and show the world he’s a good man. But that requires facing demons he’s locked away for years. And it might mean discovering he’s not such a good guy after all.
Bad Boy is a suspenseful, insightful, provocative read that I strongly recommend picking up. It is centered around a transgender guy named Ren who is a popular vlogger by day and the muscles of a vigilante group by night. Conflict arises in both facets of his life as well as demons from the past and present.
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.
I read and listened to this book and I have to say, the audiobook is solid; the narrator does a nice job acting the scenes out. My only complaint is in regards to an editing issue. There are many breaks in chapters and those aren’t properly represented in the audiobook. Past and present are often blurred together because of a lack of decent pause at each break. I often found myself checking the print version to verify a break and not just a confusing plot issue.
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 tohttp://www.leahraeder.com/blog/ and @ElliotWake on Twitter (#WakeUpElliot).
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