Book Review – ‘Hope’ by Mark Richard Zubro

Religious vilification with a twist on a young couple coming out.

Hope Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, GLBT

No. of pages: 200

From Goodreads:

Coming out and family-not supposed to be a lethal combination.

Roger Cook and Steve Koemer have been dating. Their world is turned upside down when Steve’s father and mother find out he’s gay and throw him out of the house. Then the ugliness and fear begin to build. Steve’s father is murdered. The Church he was pastor of was in financial trouble, but the man was also involved in a plot against the two boys. A plot which was designed to destroy their relationship and which continues even after his death. The boys must race to find out who the killer is and who is plotting against them. When the whole world seems against them, they have the hope of their love to sustain them.

Page border by Casey Carlisle

This was a hit and miss kind of book for me – and the trouble is, the hits were amazing, but the misses were biggies as well. I think if I had fully immersed into the fantasy I would have rated this much higher, but the issues I had with ‘Hope’ were too hard to ignore.

Mark Zubro really knows how to write mystery and conspiracy, and paces his reveals expertly. The way he has plotted out the story in ‘Hope’ is true genius. Yes it was mostly predictable, but this is a romance series, so any wild plot twists just wouldn’t have worked in this genre.

Characters are fully realised and feel real, with personalities that reflect both motivation and hidden desires. I really enjoyed continuing on the story of our protagonist Roger and his love interest Steve.

The religious element introduced in ‘Hope’ has been overdone, but Zubro managed to give it a fresh spin. Thankfully, because I wouldn’t have gotten past the first few chapters otherwise.

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Things that dragged my rating down included the same issues I had with the debut in this series (‘Safe’): the fact that the narration and situation our high school couple found themselves in was farfetched and a little mature for the setting. I stand by my opinion that this would have been better suited to a University campus with older characters.

Also the adults involved in the plot around Roger kept bringing him in the loop and launching into great exposition. That just felt like a convenient storytelling tool. A little lazy. And frankly unrealistic to have such seasoned professionals dragging this youngster around explaining every thought and motive. I’d have liked to have seen Roger get his information more like he did in ‘Safe’ – Veronica Mars style.

I think the narrative and pacing suffered a little because of these long expository conversations as well. Though ‘Hope’ is a quick and easy read, I felt like it needed another run past an editor. A lot of the dialogue from different characters used the same phrases.

There were some sexy moments I thought a bit risqué, but not offensive. I really liked how Zubro built up Roger and Steve’s relationship based on trust and love. Though the physical side of things did feel a little rushed. But it could also be realistic of how some teen guys to rush into the tactile side of relationships as well, I guess it comes down to the readers personal taste.

I really enjoyed ‘Hope,’ ignoring issues I had with the characters being out of context with the setting, it is an intelligent read that offers many layers to grab your interest. Certainly an engaging GLBT read.

Overall feeling: Cute and fun, but I wanted to rearrange it a little bit.


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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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