Author: Kelly Haworth
Cover Artist: Jay Aheer
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 11/16/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Apocalyptic/dystopian, M/M Romance, Science Fiction
In the last surviving cities of a ruined world, the concept of “woman” has been forgotten to history. Those unfortunate enough to lack a Y chromosome live as second-class citizens in a world dominated by mascs.
Ember is Y negative. He is scorned, bullied, abused by every masc he encounters, at work and at the gym. Not even his Y negative roommate cuts him any slack. He wants so desperately to be accepted as a masc that he’d rather buy black market testosterone than food. Something’s gotta give—he needs a change in his life, but has no idea how to find it.
Jess is a masc with a passion for studying the recovery of their devastated world. His boyfriend is pressuring him for more commitment, and his father expects him to take over the family business. He can’t wait to get away from civilization for his seasonal research out in the wild.
When Jess offers Ember a job, their lives collide in the isolated wasteland, and their initial attraction turns into a relationship that horrifies those around them. Soon their struggle to stay together and to be who they are turns into a fight for their lives.
This is not your typical M/M romance and that is one of the reasons I loved it so freaking much. I love it when authors push the boundaries and manage to create something both unique and well-written.
This is basically a dystopian tale, but the focus is on sexuality and gender rather than what happened to the planet. That’s not to say there isn’t any world building because that isn’t the case, not at all. In fact the world building is phenomenal, it’s just not the usual type that occurs in sci fi and dystopian novels.
In the book there are no longer women, not really anyway. For some reason gay males, referred to as mascs, are now the dominant and preferred sexuality and gender. They basically rule the world, think white privilege, and get the best jobs, lives, etc.
People born Y negative are required to carry children for gay couples several times before they are free to live their own lives. Not that they have many choices. Y negs, also called Andros, have a hard time finding good paying jobs and are often bullied and ostracized by the mascs. Many Y negs take testosterone and work out attempting to look more masculine, even though it doesn’t help them fit in at all.
Ember is one such Y neg who busts his ass exercising and spends every possible dime on injections. He hates every aspect of being a Y neg, including that he should only date and sleep with other Andros. He’s only drawn to mascs which sucks because most mascs would rather beat him up than have anything to do with him.
Jess is a slightly different type of masc. He’s always lived his life as expected, which includes being involved with his own ‘kind.’ However, unlike others, including his boyfriend, he isn’t offended by Y negs and doesn’t understand the need to bully them or treat them like lower life forms.
Jess hires Ember, a computer expert, to join a team Jess is taking into the wilds to work on equipment owned by his father. There’s quite a bit of drama in the group, especially since most of the group, including Jess’s boyfriend, hate having a Y neg on the team. It sucks for Ember not just because of the treatment by the other men, but also because he is hopelessly drawn to Jess. Jess feels the same but is torn because he isn’t supposed to feel that way.
Though Ember lives on a male and seeks to become masculine, he is, biologically, a female. Due to his attraction to mascs that makes him het. Some would say that makes this not an m/m story but I would disagree, after all he lives as a male. And for those worried about female parts in a gay story, no need to avoid this stellar tale on that account. Though Ember and Jess do have sex it’s handled skillfully without explicit mentions of Ember’s female anatomy.
The issues Jess and Ember face in this world are the same gay men and women deal with in the real world. People say they shouldn’t be together and they have to overcome other people’s perceptions and beliefs to forge a life together.
I absolutely loved the author’s prose in many parts. She really knows how to set a scene.
I strode down the hall, in shadow, light, shadow, light. Outside, hot sticky air greeted me.
I laughed at this line that works as a subtle nod to the gay for you trope.
“What, ‘cause you’re a negative and I’m het for you?”
There’s a lot of action in the book, but what I loved most were the times Jess and Ember were together. I wasn’t sure there was going to be a happily ever after because I wasn’t sure it would be possible, but the author does a splendid job giving Jess and Ember their HEA and making it unbelievable.
Ever readers who aren’t fans of Sci Fi and dystopian books should give this one a chance. At its heart is a sweet romance all readers could enjoy.
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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