Alas, we have arrived at a place I seldom travel—the dreaded DNF. First of all, please don’t assume I’m going to bash the book because I’m not. This book simply wasn’t the right fit for me. I know many review sites treat their DNF rating like a witch-hunting bell. I promise, we have more class at Smart Girls.
But seriously, there was a squeaky penis. Two of them, in fact.
Circuit Theory by Kirby Crow and Reya Starck is a story that takes place in a simulated world called the Snyth. When we meet the first hero, Dante, he is strolling through the virtual mall on his way to buy hair. At first, I was excited to get to know him because he was genuinely funny.
The setting and description of the virtual reality’s mechanics were all very well explained. I didn’t have a hard time envisioning the world. However, I think because there was such a focus on describing this world well that the human bodies operating the avatars didn’t really get very much attention.
For instance, something sexy would happen to Dante—say a lover dancing with him—and the reader was told he was aroused. His virtual body was described as having a reaction, but his physical body was ignored. It was strangely a very sterile process and smacked of the…chill? associated with cybersex. This, of course, made sexual tension nearly impossible.
That is what sexual tension is—it is description of the physical and emotional reaction to arousing stimuli. If you remove the “humanity” from a supposed description of something sexy, it has very little impact at all. It is the marked difference between “she laughed and it was sexy” and “she laughed. Throaty and sexy. Hot. Shivers crawled down his spine, heat thickening in his veins.” (<That is me quickly scribbling crap to illustrate my point.)
Also, this story is written by two authors—probably both very talented in their own right, but their voices did not mesh well in the narrative style. One seems to have a more whimsical, teenage voice and the other is much more mature.
That being said, I’d love to know whose idea the squeaky penis was, because while it wasn’t the reason why I decided not to finish the book, it’s appearance and reappearance were inappropriate for the tone of the story. As a reader, I was supposed to believe that as grown, responsible (and sexy) gay men, Dante and Byron would install an animation in their avatars (their bodies in the Snyth) that would allow them to detach their digital penis and sick it on someone like a dog. Holy wow. But okay.
Then, I was supposed to believe that a world where aliens also occupied these avatars—I’m assuming this means intergalactic peace—would somehow still cling to the issues of homophobia. There is a portion where a female alien—the worst kind of cliché of the Evil Other Woman—incites the squeaky penis from Dante because she says and I quote: “Fucking faggots r ruining the Synth.”
To me, it just seemed like a contrived method to work homophobia into the story somehow as if that’s the only brand of problem gay people encounter.
Also, do you know how Dante even deduces she’s an alien? He opens up her profile in Snyth and notes that she belongs to groups that deal with the more extreme spectrum of sexual deviations. He reacts with disgust and immediately assumes that she’s an alien because surely no human being could be interested in such travesties. Really? People say the same thing about queers on nice shiny pickets all the time.
I would think that a hero that lives in a world where homophobia was still an issue would be a little bit more open minded and, more importantly, RESPECTFUL of other peoples’ sexual quirks. Do I get off from rubbing scat on my skin? No, but it surely doesn’t make the young woman who does any less of a human being.
That undercurrent of intolerance continued throughout the entire book. The portrayal of the female alien as one of those poor souls scouring the internet in a very self-destructive search for someone to love was done realistically, so there’s that. Even Dante recognized the illness in the friend he made out of pity. And how the heroes both reacted to it later—calling her skank behind her back in that cheerfully, catty Mean Girl way—was it for me.
That is when I put down the book.
Mind you, I could go on and delve into my usually very detailed tirade of why this pissed me off or offer more “why I loved thats”—but I honestly don’t really want to spend any more time discussing this book.
Please be aware, that this is just my personal opinion on a book that obviously disturbed me. I hope I have given ample reasons as to why I was displeased, and I encourage readers to make up their own minds as always.
Length: Short Story
Genre: Male/Male Science Fiction Romance
Primary Book Format: e-Book
Publisher/Imprint: Riptide Publishing (July 2012)
Blush Quotient: I don’t even know
Smart Girls Rating: DNF
Buy it Here: Amazon
(Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher/authors in exchange for an honest review.)