Erryn reviews ‘Not Like Other Boys’ by K. A. Merikan. Published by Acerbi & Villani ltd on October 30, 2014 and is 235 pages. The audiobook was released November 19, 2020, is narrated by Tyler Kent and is 9hrs and 5min. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: I loved Wrong Way Home and Feel My Pain.
Lose an eye. Win a boyfriend.
Ethan. Taxidermist. Goth weirdo. Can’t wait to be done with high school.
Ethan is a young artist-entrepreneur with a love for quirky taxidermy. Roadkill is so much better than people. By the end of high school, all he wants is to develop his business, yet all his parents want is for him to go to law school. That is more than enough of a problem for Ethan, so any kind of love life is out of the question. That is until Robert Hunter, the quarterback of the football team, comes crashing into him. Literally.
Robert. Quarterback. In the closet. More than meets the eye.
Robert is the popular kid, the quarterback on his way to med school. He’s gay, but not exactly coming out since he doesn’t like to stir the pot. One night, spurred on by too much booze, he ends up causing irreversible harm to Ethan, the school’s weirdo.
Robert will do anything to avoid charges for what he’s done, but when Ethan makes an indecent demand in return for his silence, Robert might just be in way over his head.
For Ethan, it’s a simple act of revenge on a bully, but when Robert turns out to be not-so-straight, their arrangement gets complicated all too fast.
Themes: first love, fitting in, entrepreneurship, disability, high school, jock/goth, taxidermy, artist, coming out, becoming an adult, enemies to lovers, hurt/comfort
Genre: new-adult M/M romance
(Stand-alone novel, no cliff-hanger.)
Warning: Contains steamy, passionate scenes, violent injury, themes of bullying, and a morally ambiguous proposition.
(This book was formerly published as Diary of a Teenage Taxidermist.)
I’m the first to admit I approach K.A. Merikan books with some trepidation. There have been some I’ve loved, and a couple that were misses. This book was not a miss. Formerly published as Diary of a Teenage Taxidermist, it has now been brough to audio. Tyler Kent is a new narrator to me but his voice worked. The teenagers in this story haven’t yet reached maturity, so it made sense their voices were young and not as deep and resonant as the narrators the Merikans normally use. In other words, these kids are definitely not hardened criminals or members of outlaw motorcycle gangs.
That being said, they’re no innocents either. The synopsis is longer than the average one I’ve seen but that’s necessary – the plot needs to be laid out in some detail so the squeamish and those traumatized by bullies don’t accidentally pick it up without knowing what they were getting into. I read the synopsis carefully – several times, in fact. I was intrigued enough to pick up the book and am glad I did.
I don’t read a lot of books with teenage protagonists. I barely survived my teenage years and do not look back upon them with nostalgia and fondness. They were years I struggled through, and although they made me a stronger person, I believe one should make it to adulthood without having to endure the gauntlet of bullying and peer pressure.
Robert is a jock. He has friends who sometimes egg him on. And he does stupid shit. And sometimes that stupid shit has devastating consequences. And some readers might think ‘there but for the grace of god’ as they reflect on stupid shit they did as teens. But Robert owns up to what he’s done and is willing to make amends – partly out of a desire to stay out of jail – but mostly out of intense guilt at having caused such horrible damage. Ethan hasn’t had an easy go of it. He’s a misfit who appears goth but doesn’t fit that stereotype. He prefers to stay at home and practice taxidermy. And, okay, I was a little squeamish at that. I love my dog, but I don’t want her stuffed and put on a shelf when she dies. That being said, Ethan’s taxidermy projects are phenomenally creative and I was fascinated.
Anyway, Ethan goes to a party and things go horribly wrong. He loses an eye, but gains a means of revenge – he makes sexual demands of Robert who feels he has no choice but to comply. This is where the Merikans are at their strongest – moral ambiguity. Ethan is blackmailing Robert – pure and simple. And yet there is nothing simple about this relationship. Things progress and the boys develop real feelings for each other. But so much stands in their way – well meaning parents, friends who apply peer pressure, and a society as a whole. Ethan has always felt he had to fight the world and suddenly Robert is an ally, believing in him. Those transformations were powerful.
But high school ends. Ethan pushes to pursue his true passion while Robert continues to hide his from the world – and it’s a great one, by the way. So I was left wondering if they could make it as a couple or if they were destined to have to head in their own separate directions.
I’m glad I listened to this book. Yes, it brough back memories of being bullied in high school, but it also reminded me that I survived that time in my life and was a better person for it. So give the book a shot. Between the narration and the story, you won’t be disappointed.
8.5/10 Pots of Gold (85% Recommended) – Compares to 4.25/5 Stars
K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are taken for sisters with surprising regularity.
They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.
To keep up to date with their new releases (and get a free book in the process!) sign up to their newsletter: http://kamerikan.com/newsletter
More information about ongoing projects, works in progress and publishing at:
K.A. Merikan’s author page: http://kamerikan.com
– We are Polish,
– We’re neither sisters nor a couple,
– Kat’s an artist, and Agnes is a psychologist but neither works in her field,
– Kat’s fingers are two times longer than Agnes’s.