Author: Zane Riley
Publisher: Interlude Press
Rating: 4.0 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 05/05/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, New Adult
Will Osborne couldn’t wait to put the roller coaster ride of his public education behind him. Having suffered bullying and harassment since grade school, he planned a senior year that would be simple and quiet before going away to college and starting fresh. But when a reform school transfer student struts into his first class, Will realizes that the thrill ride has only just begun.
Lennox McAvoy is an avalanche. He’s crude, flirtatious, and the most insufferable, beautiful person Will’s ever met. From his ankle monitor to his dull smile, Lennox appears irredeemable.
But when Will’s father falls seriously ill, Will discovers that there is more to Lennox than meets the eye.
As an addition to the growing body of “newly adult” novels and a debut work of
fiction, Zane Riley’s “Go Your Own Way” is an auspicious beginning. In a struggling high school in a quietly fading small town, Lennox McAvoy appears suddenly like an alien visitor. Not only his mixed race, but the blinking monitor on his ankle mark him as something “other” in the narrow world of Leon, Virginia.
Lennox immediately sets his sights on Will Osborne, the only out gay student in
the school. Will is Lennox’s opposite in every way: pale and freckled to Lennox’s
dark skin, gentle and polite to Lennox’s vulgarity and rudeness.
To Will’s dismay, he is attracted to Lennox in a visceral way possible only with
teenage boys. His disgust at Lennox’s awful behavior is counterbalanced by the
physical magnetism he feels. Yearning for something—anything—romantic in his
isolated life, Will is appalled at his own inability to just shut out Lennox and his
Zane Riley has given us a very difficult character in Lennox McAvoy. As the omniscient reader, we see the back story before anyone else does. We know a little bit of why Lennox is the way he is. We also know that the basic assumptions
people make about Lennox are wrong, even as we understand that Lennox himself has bought into those assumptions and has, essentially, given up.
This is the crux of this novel’s power: Lennox McAvoy’s despair and resignation to a failed life that he cannot imagine a way out of. His behavior is his way of self-
fulfilling the prophecy of others. It is frustrating and heart-breaking to see him
operate within his own broken world-view, even as we understand the potential
within him, symbolized outwardly by his delicate beauty.
Against all YA novel formulae, it is Lennox’s beauty that is Will Osborne’s window
into his better self. Will’s intense physical attraction, his own desperate need for
love (or, possibly, just hormones) makes him study Lennox so closely that he
begins to see light through the darkness; begins to see the sad little boy behind
the abrasive exterior. Only Will has the key to Lennox’s prison cell.
Will’s family is as present and supportive as Lennox’s is distant and hostile. The
tragedies in their backgrounds are not parallel, and so it takes time for their
emotional gears to mesh. The irrationality and impulsiveness of horny teenagers
is ever-present, and clouds any sort of clear sense of right and wrong. It is a
peculiar way to handle a story like this, and yet it is also potent. Riley keeps us
struggling—along with Will and Lennox and Will’s stepmother, Karen—right to
No rainbows and butterflies here; a glimmer of hope, a light at the end of a dark
tunnel; that’s the best we get.
And, at least to me, that was enough.
This might be a stand-alone, but there is room for a follow-up story here. There is
a lot of unresolved backstory, a rich mine of questions to be answered. Either way, Zane Riley has done something innovative in a well-worn genre.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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