Wednesday 25 May 2022

eBook Review - If This Gets Out

As you can probably guess, after watching series one and reading all Alice Oseman's Heartstopper over the early May Day Bank Holiday weekend, I craved more queer romance. I didn't expected to find anything close to the light, almost wholesome-ness of Heartstopper but I wanted to carry on riding that wave. So, when I remembered I had If This Gets Out on my kindle (gifted to me by publisher via NetGalley), I decided that it was time! And I was quite excited to dive in. 

Title and Author: If This Gets Out by Cale Dietrich & Sophie Gonzales
Publisher: Holder Children's Books
Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by publisher via NetGalley inn exchange for an honest review/reaction

Ruben and Zach are two members of the boy-band Saturday, with Angel and Jon. The four are close in front and behind the camera, but cracks are appearing behind the scenes. The one easy banter between the four are strained and Ruben confides in Zach that he's feeling smothered about how management and their pressure to keep his sexual identity a secret. 

As the band go onto their European tour, Ruben and Zach begin to rely on each other more and more till, one night, the pair share a kiss. What will happen next to them after that night and how can they move forward with a relationship when they realise that the support they desperately need is never going to come?

I read this in two days. TWO DAYS! And one of them was a Bank Holiday Monday so you can figure me for reading it at warp speed (blame Heartstopper if you want), but what surprised me about this, barring how easy I flew through this book, is how dark this book is when, on the surface, it looks like a light queer romance. 

I keep hearing this a lot when this first came out: how this book looks like and breezy when, actually, it's not. I think even the authors pointed it out on an occasion, but this book does look at the darker side of fame. We have one band member who has an alcohol and drug dependency, another who's parent is their management and seems to care more about the band's image and profit than about his son and fellow band members, a third who is desperate to come out of the closet but is being forced to stay in the closet by management and his controlling parents (mainly his mother) and the last band member beginning to question his sexual identity and has little to no support from those in charge. 

I think we all look at what happened to Britney Spears and other celebrities and go "Oh, there are people in the media industry that don't care about the person, but the image/money/sales". But to see it in this light, from the inside looking out had a different feel as we got told, time and again, this is for the "better good", "for your own protection" and "for the fans" has a sinister edge to it. And we need to remember that all the band members of Saturday (not the Saturdays, as I had to keep reminding myself every few chapters) are in their late teens. 

As for the romance, I liked it hugely. And I like how we saw Ruben and Zach fell for each other and how both tackle their own issues separately and together, and while I had a few times when I went "But do they really like each other or is it because they're in each other's space all the time?", I liked these characters and am intrigued to see what happens next... 

I do plan to read more from both authors. Actually, I have a book from each (Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales and The Friend Scheme by Cale Dietrich) on my TBR and I am ready to dive into these over the summer! But this was a fun read that, while have a romance at its heart, take a look at the darker side of fame. 

(and before you say it, yes, I can see why many of you read this has One Direction fanfic. I saw it too and went happily along for the ride!)

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