Posting that review yesterday reminded me I read this incredible book last month and posted a review for it, and that said review should be on here as well. So, here’s another indie book you should absolutely 100% be reading.
There’s something about the way this book opens that punches you in the gut right away. The care and attention given to each scene in visceral detail reaches out and refuses to let you go, which isn’t something most books can accomplish.
If this book is anything, it’s dripping with intent. Don’t be afraid of the heady messages and themes that are buried in here about trauma, love, self-worth and how people who are different are forced to navigate a world that often makes no sense to them.
If you know Alex from the Constellis Voss books, it helps, but you don’t need to have read the previous books to be immersed. Alex is a complicated character who just wants the surrounding people to be happy after growing up a subject of abuse, neglect and forced into a life of sex trafficking and crime. Alex’s struggle with identity is never internal, it’s almost always external. While Alex understands he’s a boy, it’s everyone else insisting on treating him differently, be it like a girl or placating him by calling him a boy, but treating him differently.
When Alex can finally make friends is when things get complicated. At that point, Alex has already morphed into an assassin, hell bent on destroying his captor and boss, Boris, and is convinced not just that he’s a bad person, but an irredeemable villain that doesn’t deserve love and affection. While love is a central theme, don’t confuse it with romance. There is some romantic love at parts of Alex’s life, but it all gets jumbled up in his head while he’s fighting his fracture psyche and trying to literally push Boris’s deadly bullet leveled at him out of his head and prevent his own death.
Most of the book is Alex experiencing and fighting for these memories. The ones he doesn’t want seem to be the strongest, while the ones he wants to hold on to and cherish are the ones being wiped out by the bullet that’s coursing through his mind. Because there are always those people in life that want to control, to take all the accumulated good and block it out to maintain that control. Whether Alex realizes it or not, Alex isn’t the villain, nor is he only the summation of the things he was forced to do (mainly fuck and kill), but is a person with a lot to give and built up a community of people initially to help reach his end goal of destroying Boris, only for that to become something much more.
The book’s climax was masterfully built to, and not at all expected. Because this isn’t a story about revenge, fucking and killing. It’s a book about finding the people who love you, accept you for who you are and will accept all the messy bits that come with these relationships.
Getting to know, and I mean really know, some of these characters is also a treat, and helps add more context to the other books. Getting to see prime Alex interacting with all of them and forging these bonds that will carry forth into the future is really something.
You really should do that, by the way.