Book #55: Something Like Spring (2014)

20652686author: Jay Bell
language: English
length: 460 pages
finished reading on: 31 March 2014

This is the fourth book by Jay Bell in the series that began with Something Like Summer, which I listened to last year and followed up with the next two books on Kindle. I actually finished it in about five days, much quicker than I had even done with the previous books in the series, because I got right into it.

The story is again intertwined with the previous stories, but not as directly as previously, as the main character is a new one. Again, he’s gay, and again, he enters first into a doomed relationship before leaving it to find himself and grow up. This particular character is Jason, not to be confused with the Jace of the previous story. He’s an orphan in the foster system, so at first it seems like a foregone conclusion what will happen next: he will move in with Ben and Tim, have a great time, and end up living with them. But first he has to move in with a horrible family, and sleep with their son to establish the bad circumstances that can be healed by living with the characters we already know. In the end it’s a little different, as his relationship with the other characters is established once he’s already an adult, so not a true foster relationship, and it’s a kind of weird situation where they originally just help him get back on his feet, and then get attached to each other.

The first relationship that the boy has, with a guy called Caesar, of all things, very much falls into the category of wish-fullfilment, just as I mentioned with the teenage Ben/Tim relationship of the first book. Jason also comes across as a bit creepy at the start of the book, so it’s a wonder he manages to get into bed with the other boy at all. Caesar does provide an all-too-rare example of a bisexual character, so can be commended for that, but I didn’t believe on a fundamental level in his relationship with Jason.

The second relationship he has comes later, with someone he meets in a gay youth group. It’s much more believable, although the law of conservation of detail seems to decree that at the group meeting, only that guy and one other person are even described at all, to the point where it’s obvious that he’s going to end up in a relationship. I can forgive this because I was pretty much engrossed in the book the whole way through, but it felt a bit lazy that none of the other characters were being fleshed out. Anyway, this guy is in a bad relationship, which he gets out of, but then he leaves to become a rescue swimmer for four years, leaving the main character alone.

Perhaps it was just the fact that I was reading the book very quickly, but I felt like not enough detail or time was being devoted to each event in the story. Some events felt very rushed, and there would be a sudden time jump afterwards, leaving the conclusion and consequences of the event hanging. In a few cases, this seemed to be to match the events of this story with those of the previous stories, although this was strange, because the story is much more standalone than the others.

It was great to read about all the characters from the other books again. Some loose ends from the other books were finally tied up, such as Tim’s crazy ex, who shows up in a particularly hair-raising scene. Some characters hardly showed up at all, like Ben’s friend Allison, who only appears near the end a couple of times, but was a major character in the first book.

The seasons theme seemed very tacked-on in this book. The author didn’t make any secret of the fact that he was writing it to complete the set of four season-themed books, although he’s expressed an interest in continuing the stories of the various characters somehow, but while Something Like Summer had a very obvious summer motif running throughout, if there’s any spring motif here it’s very subtle. I can see it a bit with, for instance, the main character having a picnic with his boyfriend, or other things like that, but it didn’t seem desperately important to the story like it did in the first one, where I remember Ben moving away to a Chicagoan winter and becoming miserable.

More than ever, though, this book just showed me how much I like Jay Bell’s writing, despite the flaws and the imperfect storylines. I really wanted to just keep reading the story and reading about the characters. I hope I get another chance soon. In the meantime I should probably try some other gay romance, or another book by Bell, although it’s always been one of those situations where I don’t know where to start.

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