Friday, May 8, 2015

T.E.D. by Jayson James

TIM is being bullied. No one in high school wants to be known as a tattle-tale and to do so would only make things rougher for him. The repercussions would most likely make him an outcast, and without any friends.

ERIC is frustrated with life. His parents are overbearing and if they ever knew the person he really was, they would throw him out of their house. His friends are not much better, they only like him when he is who they expect him to be.

DELSIN is gay and ready to come out. Unfortunately, life at home is on the brink of falling apart with his parents constant fighting. Admitting the truth could bring his whole world crashing down around him.

Each of these three needs to decide whether the risks of being honest about who they are outweighs the importance of being true to themselves. This could mean ruining life as each of them knows it. Maybe it is better to remain miserable in order to play it safe. On the other hand, doing nothing doesn’t seem to working either.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

3.5 stars
5 stars on the premise
3 stars on the execution.
I'm not going to nitpick, but I should mention that I read a book like an editor. Perhaps I'm more harsh than other readers, expecting more. I don't offer constructive criticism unless I connect with a story. Just by reviewing this, instead of putting a star rating on it and moving on, I'm showing that I did care for the integrity of the story.

I did read the book cover-to-cover in one sitting. Obviously, I was invested the entire way through. I'm just going to write a few words to explain why I couldn't 5 star a book that most would because of the content explored. I cannot automatically hand 5 stars out, when I feel like I should.

My issues were as such:
Editing, and I don't just mean to catch typos (there were a lot of those, including calling Tim “Time,” but it did not bother me. I felt I should mention it for those it does bother). What did bother me, and made me feel guilty, was redundancy. Redundancy in not only scenes but their content, with jarring jumps from a few paragraph-length scenes to the next. I skimmed a LOT of the text to get to the heart of the story, hence the feeling of guilt that descended upon me. An author took the time to write the words; I should have to read them.

Surrounding Delsin's family life: I felt it. I understood it. (I really, really empathized with it) I felt after hearing his parent's fighting (the same type of context over and over again. SSDD) it took away from the impact. I got just as desensitized as Delsin. It was always riding the story, and never resolved. Delsin was so against bullying, yet he never tried to get his little brother, Jett, and himself to safety from both of their bullies. I would have been inspired if a true resolution was met, so those going through it in life could have read this, had it resonate with them as an instrument of change, and learned more than to ‘ride it out.’

Tim was my second issue. I feel like a heel typing this. Tim was the 1st person narrator with Eric & Delsin being 3rd person (also jarring) We, the readers, are meant to connect with him greatly and empathize. His story was wrought with strife and heartache, but not as badly as Eric & Delsin. Not that is should be more or less difficult for Tim, just it didn't match up with a plot device.

It all felt forced to me. I couldn't buy Tim's depression. He always seemed to take the bullying in stride. (He was narrating in 1st person. Was he an unreliable narrator, because it belied his journal entries?) We were ‘told’ Tim was depressed when his actions and thoughts said he wasn't. His diary read like a 10-year-old boy-crazy girl in part (how easily he went from one crush to the next with no true emotion or substance. I just couldn't buy anything he felt for any character). His stream of consciousness was a lot younger than his age in his journal entries.

I also felt something Tim tried to do didn't match up with his journal entries or monologue. He had a family who supported him (ended up supporting his friends when every other parent in the story was a villain). (While others had to work, he was coddled to within an inch of his life. So maybe he felt uninspired and had no idea why he was on this planet. Even so, it felt like complaining about having the things his friends did NOT have, which made me empathize more with his friends and dislike Tim for always making everything about him). He had friends who supported him (I was confused on the ‘I only have one friend’ when the kid picked them up easily. Always gaining a protector. But kids are blind, so I guess I can get that).

Tim was very narcissistic, and I couldn't connect with him. He worried more on how his friends being gay would reflect on him, making it all about him, while asking the same friends to solve his issues, be by his side, and protect him. A vapid, beaten puppy. Like, you want to punish it so it will learn a lesson. I was seriously struggling to see what Tim's friends saw in him that made them want to befriend him, and I feel like hell for stating that (like I'm being the bully). Other than giving Tim someone who was crushing on him, I felt no growth for him. He was still about himself, still being coddled, and still making me wonder what his crush saw in him when their only common interest did NOT interest Tim. Actually, after reading the book, I have no idea what Tim's interests are. But that was the root of the problem that wasn't explored. Tim was flat because his parents gave him too much so he couldn't grow up. Tim’s voice felt too immature for the age-range and content of the story, and that was what was throwing me off.

It was odd how the author directed the reader in one direction, having both Eric & Delsin want Tim, but then swerved away from it without changing the course. Because of this, I didn't even buy that Tim was straight, and it was 1st person with him over-crushing on girls. Maybe it was his immaturity versus his peers. I don't know. But Tim was written as the perfect victim, who could, yet refused, to stand up for himself. He liked his bully, was empathetic toward his bully, almost to the point I felt he liked being bullied (which didn't teach either of them what they needed to know). So I didn't buy the depression at all when I had access to the thoughts the author felt I should know. I knew the story would turn that way, and it just didn't fit. The (Plot device) vehicle used by Tim would have had more impact by another driver – a more mature driver.

A good story which would have been very profound, life-changing, with a few plot tweaks suggested by an editor.

Author of novels and short stories. Jayson James graduated from Western Washington University with a bachelor's degree in education. He was born and raised in Washington State, where he currently lives and teaches. Jayson's interests beyond writing include reading a variety of books, watching movies and drawing.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of T.E.D. by Jayson James by the blog to read and review.

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