Thursday, September 28, 2017

Review: The Epic Love Story of Doug and Stephen

I loved this book.  The protagonist, Doug, is like Bill and Ted's dumber, hotter friend, and he falls in love with an almost murderously antisocial, uptight, artsy queer guy, Stephen.  The narrative is laugh-out-loud funny and teeters on the edge of farce, but is saved by having a really charming emotional core.

It breaks conventions that I wasn't aware could be broken. For example, Doug is not slow-by-common-measures-but wise-in-other-ways.  He really is just dumb as a rock.  He's also a lazy, cowardly, amoral, slutty slob. From that description, I should hate him (I'm judgemental like that).  Yet he ended up being a really sympathetic character for me.  Stephen is intellectual, anally neat, and interested is almost a caricature of a east coast liberal, wishing that there was just more injustice in his life to rail against and more angsty than a goth teen.  He's also not someone I would normally find attractive, but I eventually appreciated him though Doug's eyes.

And Stephen really doesn't like Doug at first and is pretty mean to him.  If it were a girl, I'd feel uncomfortable with having her be hot but so much dumber than the guy she loves, or having her be such a doormat that she take his abuse and never defends herself.  But somehow since they're both guys, it doesn't feel misogynistic and just becomes a story about unconditional love.

For a while, I didn't know if I really wanted them to be together.  I kept reading just to get to more funny bits, but I didn't at first see how it would work.  I mean, if I met them in real life, I would be totally on Stephen's side in trying to dissuade Doug from pursuing/bothering him.  They seem a horrible match.  Completely different in every possible way, and not in the "he completes me" sense.

Also Doug starts out heterosexual. The "queer for you" trope has a bad reputation for a reason, but here it worked for me, because I could actually believe that Doug could go his whole went his whole life without questioning the default sexuality and then switch his assumptions without it bothering him all that much.  He's as deep as a puddle.

The only thing I didn't love about the book was the climax.  Although entertaining, there was just too much coincidence for me.  YMMV.

Overall though, I'd recommend it.  Plus, it's free on Kindle Unlimited, so there's that.

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