A slow tale of discrimination that Harry Potter could never…
Genre: YA, Fantasy, LGBTQIA+
No. of pages: 312
Came out of the closet by accident? Check.
Sent off to a pray-away-the-gay school? Miserable check.
Shenanigans ensued? Mega-quadruple check.
Blaize Trales’s world falls apart when he’s dragged to Sanctuary Preparatory Academy, a boarding school that claims to fix gay teens. The place sucks so much they even serve food like “Cleansing Corn.” Blaize’s misguided parents eat it up and hand him over for brainwashing.
But things at Sanctuary aren’t what they appear. Blaize soon discovers the school’s antics are all a lie. They’re also at war with an ancient enemy. Between surviving bullies, rescuing students from mysterious attacks, and passing algebra, Blaize’s life is going to get out-of-control crazy.
And freaking dangerous.
Lucky for Blaize, he wields the ultimate weapon—being gay. And he’s pretty good at it.
Well the title is a little long winded…
For a self-published title, the editing was executed at an extremely high level, though it could have gotten a better developmental edit – the pacing was terribly slow and the plot points (the heart beats of the story) were spaced out too far apart. We get a lot of mundane boarding school living and not enough story momentum.
I noticed the cover art has now changed for the series… for the better. Maybe it had to do with marketability, or printers, but whatever it is it was a good move. Not only is the cover art more appealing, but my copy had ink splotches on close to fifty pages rendering some words illegible and I had to guess the words in context of the sentence.
I enjoyed the characters and their development throughout the story. It was just the pacing issues holding this tale back. It does have a Harry Potteresque feel to it and the tone of the novel, with the protagonist mostly unaware of the real story, this serves as an intriguing narration tool. Blaize was a fun and easy protagonist to follow we can see how his character gets stronger through the adversity he faces but I wanted a clear-cut development arc.
I love the diversity, but feel like it wasn’t diverse enough. This novel focused on the gay part of the queer community, with maybe a quick glance at lesbians, but no mention of transgender, non-binary, intersex, asexual… they were all erased. For a book with themes of discrimination against the queer community, it wasn’t very inclusive.
The story is simple (and longwinded) and pretty predictable, with exception of one twist at the end which took me by surprise. The story ended so suddenly without much resolution to any plot points; I was left floundering and wandering what element the plot twist actually served. Again, this would have all been resolved in a developmental edit… it’s kind of rude to have the reader go on this long journey with you and not resolve enough of the story to give them a satisfactory end. This is definitely only episode one in a longer story – not a debut novel in a series. Given the pacing issues Cody is asking a lot of his readers, especially in YA where attention spans are a lot shorter.
Cody has a great writing style and can really get into the head of his protagonist, and can craft interesting characters, and given this is his debut novel, I’m expecting his writing to get better with experience. So I will be continuing on with this series and see how his writing grows as the story unfolds. But I do have to mention that this is one of the top self-published titles I’ve come across. The formatting can still be improved upon, but no spelling or grammatical errors and a very readable narration. But I think I’ll reserve a recommendation until I’m further into the series.
Overall feeling: Colour me impressed.
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One thought on “Book Review – ‘The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren : The Seeker’ (#1 The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren) by Cody Wagner”
I’m my day, I’m 67, there were no novels with gay characters. So nice that’s been corrected. Nice review.