Omorphi by C. KennedyPublished by Harmony Ink Press
Blurb: High school senior Michael Sattler leads a charmed life. He’s a star athlete, has great friends, and parents who love him just the way he is. What’s missing from his life is a boyfriend. That’s a problem because he’s out only to his parents and best friend. When Michael accidentally bumps into Christy Castle at school, his life changes in ways he never imagined. Christy is Michael’s dream guy: smart, pretty, and sexy. But nothing could have prepared Michael for what being Christy's boyfriend would entail.
Christy needs to heal after years of abuse and knows he needs help to do it. After the death of his notorious father, he leaves his native Greece and settles in upstate New York. Alone, afraid, and left without a voice, Christy hides the myriad scars of his abuse. He desperately wants to be loved and when he meets Michael, he dares to hope that day has arrived. When one of Michael’s team-mates becomes an enemy and an abuser from Christy’s past seeks to return him to a life of slavery, only Michael and Christy's combined strength and unwavering determination can save them from the violence that threatens to destroy their future together.
Review: You had me at watermelon lip gloss. Actually, you had me long before that. I fell in love with Christy in a heartbeat. He was so delicate and fragile yet showed such incredible inner strength. It’s hard not to care for someone who has suffered so, but even before I learned of his tragic past, Christy came across as a lovable character. The way he silently admired Michael from afar and sat in the stands to watch him practice every day was sweet. My heart about burst when he told Michael he was his #1 Fan.
Michael was a sweetheart, too. He was patient, kind, loyal, loving. He never gave up on Christy no matter how difficult or dangerous their circumstances became. He was a valiant and lovable hero. And I found it completely endearing that he was so shy when it came to physical intimacy. Christy, of course, was not sexually inexperienced like Michael, and this was a great source of stress for Christy, but Michael couldn’t have handled it more beautifully than when he told Christy what they did together was a first for Christy, too—the first time he was touched with love.
The intimate moments between Christy and Michael were very sweet. They were so tender with one another. It was cute the way Michael became flustered when Christy flirted with him. They were just so very right for each other. I especially liked the way Michael encouraged Christy to embrace his effeminate side. It was easy to see how much Michael’s acceptance and support meant to Christy.
So far I’ve used words like sweet and loving and tender to describe this book. But I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that there were moments filled with pain and terror and struggle. Christy’s past abuse is not something that can be easily overcome, and much of the book shows the physical, emotional, and psychological trauma Christy must deal with in his everyday life as he works through the healing process.
For example, when Christy feels physically threatened, he becomes paralyzed with fear. He cannot run away or yell for help or defend himself in any way. He’s completely at the mercy of his attacker. This was very difficult for me to read, but also somewhat comforting given my past history with childhood sexual abuse. I wish I had read Christy’s story when I was a child. It might have helped me deal with the shame, guilt, and self-hatred I felt over not having run from the people who took advantage of me.
The torture Christy suffered was extreme, though it isn’t described in graphic detail. Much is left to the imagination of the reader. I am extremely squeamish when it comes to torture or gore of any kind, but the way the information was presented here didn’t cause any problems for me. It was unpleasant, for sure, but not nightmare-inducing. I think, as a reader, you have to be willing to sit through a little bit of the horror to understand Christy.
Where the story went astray for me was the way the boys dealt with homophobia. There were several LGBT teen characters in the book, and several scenes wherin one or more of these characters were bullied at school. In every case, the situation was resolved with violence or the threat of violence. Michael and his friends, Jake and Lisa, beat the crap out of the bullies, or threatened to beat the crap out of the bullies, or threatened to spread rumors around school about the bully being gay. They even went so far as to stage a fight (presumably to make themselves look tough, though their motives weren't explicitly stated). I worry that this sends the wrong message to teens who read this story. I don’t blame Michael for defending Christy, and I don’t expect him to be a saint, but when good characters do bad things, I like to at least see some consequences for their actions (realistically, they would have been suspended).
There were also a few plot holes, but I’m not going to go into those. I know how annoying it is when my friends point out things that are illogical or inconsistent in movies I like, so I’ll refrain. ☺ But if you really, really want to talk about plot holes, go here: http://www.cracked.com/article_16625_8-classic-movies-that-got-away-with-gaping-plot-holes.html.
On top of the sweet love story and the portrayal of the struggle it takes to overcome childhood abuse, there is a whole other element to this book. It is very much a thriller, complete with multiple psychopaths on the loose attempting to abduct and/or kill various characters. This element of the story felt a bit over the top to me, but I will admit that it added a great deal of suspense and fast-paced action. I found it difficult to put the book down each night (though I had to because of its long length). Maybe “over the top” isn’t the right word. Rather, it changed the tone of the story from “serious, real life drama” to “entertainment”. Based on the forward, I wasn’t expecting that, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
If you enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I think you'll enjoy Omorphi, too.
Review by Madison