‘Two Boys Kissing’ by David Levithan
The plot revolves around two boys kissing, making a statement to their community about homosexuality. The plot is a bit meh. There’s nothing but a kiss holding it together. There’s nothing exciting, nothing to really engage the reader. It’s an idea more than a plot.
The narrative voice makes it impossible to feel anything for the cast of characters. On the one side, it’s interesting and different to the norm but on the flipside, it distances the readers from feeling any sort of emotion for any of the characters, it makes it difficult to read and because they’re (the “we” collective) seemingly omniscient, there’s no set parameters to indicate how much they do or don’t know. They seem to know things that they shouldn’t, or maybe they’re speculating but either way, the narrative voice over-complicates a very minimalistic plot.
I couldn’t find the characters in the story if you drew me a map. It’s bizarre. I’m guessing I’m not alone in saying that within a day (or maybe even a few hours), you won’t remember any of the characters or what they look like. Levithan seems to think that giving them pink or blue hair is a substitute for character. It’s not enough. I want to get to know the characters in their world. Instead, they read like cardboard cut-outs. There’s no depth whatsoever.
Quality of Writing: 7/20
There are some interesting phrases in the story but overall, the narrative voice, much like the language that’s employed, is intense in every instance. We get snapshots in between the main characters where the collective “we” voice will try to sound philosophical and all-knowing but it just highlights the inconsistencies.
To be honest, I’ve no idea where the novel is set apart from North America. References to the diner and high school give me a sense of continent rather than place. The writing style makes it difficult to retain information.
Comparative Literature: 4/10
When I read the synopsis, I was expecting something that was on-par with Boy Meets Boy or Cat Clarke’s Undone – something that looked at homosexuality and did something interesting with it. Levithan uses it as a crutch and he never delves deeper than the surface. It’s sad because I could imagine this book doing something worth telling your friends about but instead, it’s a difficult read and get excited about.
Overall Score: 38/100
Rate it or Slate it?
Slate it: It pains me to say this but it’s a very so-so story with a forgettable cast of characters and an irritating narrative voice.
Books You May Also Like:
‘Boy Meets Boy’ by David Levithan – if you want to read a feel-good LGBT romance with laughs and tragic turns that grip the reader from the first page
‘Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda’ by Becky Albertalli – for an LGBT story that looks at the everyday life of a closeted gay teen and what he does when he’s black-mailed
‘Undone’ by Cat Clarke – for a darker, more edgier story that looks at revenge and romance and the bonds of friendship