Book 1, Wonderland
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Boy Meets Boy. Boy Loses Boy.
Boy Goes to Wonderland…
After six months of hot-and-heavy dating, Alex is ready to say goodbye to the sex-drugs-and-dance-till-dawn lifestyle and settle down with the love of his life, Steven. He even bought an engagement ring. But when Steven finds an illicit party favor in Alex’s pocket, the powder hits the fan. Steven breaks it off, and Alex heads out to drown his sorrows—in Wonderland…
The hottest, hippest nightclub in town, Wonderland is where every boy’s dreams come true. Where the DJ, Hatter, spins the maddest tracks, the Caterpillar sells the trippiest drugs, and the Queen of Hearts sends every drag diva off with her head. Still, Alex can’t stop thinking about Steven—even while being seduced by a pair of twinks who are tweedlehot and tweedlehotter. Things only get weirder when Alex learns that Steven is missing—and an anonymous phone call warns him that he’ll never see Steven again…unless he eats this, drinks that, and dives deeper down the rabbit hole of decadence. This certainly isn’t just another weekend—in Wonderland…
Browatzke’s writing skills are SO apparent throughout the story. But, writing is not all
I was excited for a mash-up read that combined Alice in Wonderland aspects with a modern-day theme. And really, some of the Alice characters do fit nicely into a ‘gay-themed’ story, coming already ingrained in our consciousness as rather flamboyant, over the top characters. Rob Browatzke has a smooth writing style, bringing descriptive elements and twisting characters in a way that works to fit a theme that is more edgy and LBGTQ.
While the first half of the book was quite unique and engaging as we get to know the characters and see their correlations to the story: Alex as Alice, Steven as the White Rabbit, Dinah the girlfriend/cat, a drug dealing caterpillar, and the Tweedles: Jesse and Colton. Set up as a promise from Alex to Steven that he will stop indulging in the various devilish delights that are to be found at the club, Wonderland, I was excited to see where the story would go. Possibilities seemed endless, even with some fairly cut and dried stereotyping of the secondary characters.
And then Steven is kidnapped and the mystery ensues. Well, that is, if Alex can ever get his head or body out of the multiple erotic and drug-induced diversions provided for his ‘healing’. Sadly Alex stopped growing, lost his tenuous connection to my empathy and my patience with yet another stereotype was exhausted. What could have been something wonderful and unique held on to only shards of brightness as the promise of the story as set up in the first half is shattered in convoluted, repetitive and often mindless acts: sexual and ‘mystery solving’. I still am uncertain as to who the killer was, and the kidnapper was just as unsettling. Early on in the story, Browatzke managed to solidly establish the sexual preferences of his characters, giving them emotional depth and showing the similarities and differences in homosexual choices to hetero readers. Then, he goes off on tangents that seem designed only to reinforce the extent to which the characters are homosexual, delving into stereotypes that felt, to me, slightly homophobic and dismissive to the community as a whole. I was disappointed and saddened: expecting more and getting less.
With a unique premise that works nicely in the first half, it felt as if the ideas had fled, and the author needed to add words to reach some unknowable goal. Missing the promise of the premise is always a disappointment to me as a reader, especially when Browatzke’s writing skills are SO apparent throughout the story. But, writing is not all that is needed for storytelling, and that is proven in this book.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.