“All virtues not granted at birth are taught to you by life, one way or another.”
When Jack begins to show signs of a hallucinatory disorder, his best friend, August, is determined to carry him through the illness. Even when Jack comes to August, telling him they must go on a quest in this hallucinated world. The quest is a dangerous one, but August can’t leave his best friend – after all, Jack is his Wicker King.
Holy hell, was this book confusing at times. The wording is fine, but I found the chapters very difficult to keep track of. Each “chapter” is just 1-2 pages, and the passage of time is bizarre. Some pages spanned a few minutes, while others spanned days.
August is our primary MC, and he’s a likable enough kid, but I never felt like I really learned that much about him. There’s just no emotional connection to him at all.
I did appreciate his undying love for Jack, but it was also hard to watch how he handled those feelings. He let Jack get away with murder, and then when things got too tough, he just coped with his feelings through denial and sex with various girls that he admitted he cared nothing about.
I found Jack to be a tremendously more fleshed-out character than August, and I wish that we could have seen things from just his perspective sometimes.
I appreciated the fact that he knew the things he was seeing weren’t there. I think a lot of fictional portrayals of schizoaffective disorder (which is what Jack is assumed to have in the book) showcase a Hollywood ideal of being hopelessly out of touch with the real world and having no idea that these things are hallucinations, but that’s not the case for many people with hallucinatory disorders. It brought a realistic touch to the story for me, every time he mentioned trying to separate what he knew was real from what his mind was showing him.
✘ THE BIG ENDING (no spoilers)
In the beginning of the book, we learn that the boys have committed arson and have been arrested; the rest of the story is just the events that lead up to the moment of arrest, and then what happened after their sentencing was carried out. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that it pissed me off, and I found myself skimming through the pages past that point because I just wanted the book to end at that point.
✘ QUEER REP?
This book was originally advertised to me as an LGBTQ+ story, and you guys know me – I’m a sucker for a good queer story, especially when the characters are bisexual! Unfortunately, that “rep” was all but invisible. There are implications here and there, but 90% of the story is just hardcore queer-baiting, and I’ve no longer got any patience for that.
✘ FINAL VERDICT
Given that this was literally one of my most anticipated releases for the second half of 2017, I am so sad to say that I just wish I could get back the 2 hours I spent reading this book. I spent most of that time disappointed, confused, or downright irritated, and I can’t say I would hurry to recommend this book. If the author decides to write more books in the future, I don’t think I’ll be picking them up.
Thank you to K. Ancrum, personally, for this ARC. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.