Review: Names Can Never Hurt Me by Wade Kelly

What if sexuality wasn’t a definable thing and labels merely got in the way? 

Nick Jones can’t remember a time when he wasn’t part of the in crowd. Everywhere he goes, he stands out as the best looking guy in the room, and women practically fall into bed with him. Then, after kissing Corey on a dare led to much more and on many occasions, Nick’s “screw anything” reputation escalated, but he didn’t care. 

When Nick meets RC at the restaurant where he works, it throws his whole life out of whack. RC lives up to his dubbed nickname “Scruffy Dude.” He seems Nick’s complete opposite, but Nick can’t get him out of his head. 

Because of peer-pressure and his fears about defining his sexuality, Nick struggles with stepping out of his comfort zone and caring about someone different than himself. If he’s lucky, somewhere between arrogance and ignorance, Nick might find out what it means to be an adult, but if he’s wrong, he could lose everything. 

WARNING: The following review contains a lot of fucking swearing.


Where do I start with reviewing this? Looking at my highlighted notes I've got way more parts coloured than I normally do - usually if I've got a lot of highlighted passages it means I have really not enjoyed the story or that it was particularly lyrical in an appealing way. This book kinda falls into the former - bits of this story absolutely drove me bonkers... and yet I found it thoroughly readable and enjoyed it. Which makes reviewing very difficult. <insert cross eyed emoticon here>. So here I go with my best effort.

Okay. I think the first thing that griped me about this book is Nick. He's a self centered arsehole. Seriously, even when he was being nice he was annoying... it was kind of the point of the story though, watching him mature. And he did, eventually, but boy oh boy was I ready to shake him by the time he managed it. He's vain - what a freaking put off.
"You haven't met him. He's single and overweight. His skin might have cleared up really well and he has great hair, but that doesn't mean he has room to be choosy. If I'm so hot, then he should have been all over me in the theatre. He's gay. It's what they do."
I mean, really? REALLY? How am I supposed to like this dickwad? (Don't even get me started on that last line. They. THEY. Fuck you, Nick. Fuck you to the stars and back).

It wasn't just Nick though, it was his whole group of friends. The in-crowd. They were petty, immature, snobby, bratty - it was very difficult to find any redeeming qualities in many of them. Especially (and I hate to say this) the girls. They all felt  a little 2d to me, manipulative and playing games, but without any nice to round them out.

Tara bossed Nick about, ordering him to go and take up dog-soiled carpets at her aunts house, demanding where they d=go out and what they see. Then she was all flirty and girly in a major eye roll way.
"I stuck a french fry up my nose and  she giggled."
Of course she did because apparently you're both ten years old, Nick.

I want to like the characters I'm reading about and a well rounded character has good and bad sides. In fact, even the 'nice' girls in this story seemed a little 2d. Marcy came across as an airhead; interfering and obsessed with trying to get Nick attracted to her. It was tedious.

Then there was this line...
"I might be  a slut, but I'd never had non-consensual sex. Tara was the only one I'd ass-fucked without consent and it had happened by accident."
Excuse me? It happened by accident? Yeah, because it's really easy to stick your dick up an arse instead of a vagina by accident. What the actual fuck.
"I would never have consciously done that, I think that's why I felt so bad about it."
Liar, liar pants on fire. No excuses, mate. If she didn't want anal sex then you're just as bad as the person you're talking about. It doesn't just accidentally slip into one instead of the other.

Reading all my highlighted notes I'm getting crosser and crosser and am starting to wonder why I gave it 4 hearts as a rating. The thing is, it was really readable despite my huge list of nitpicks.

I really liked RC. He did feel much better rounded, I liked Nick's progression from a complete dickhead to a fairly likeable person. I liked the writing style, if not the characterisation. I liked the way the book looked at labels as a whole, something that seems particularly pertinent at the moment. For all my dislikes I'll be damned if I didn't bloody go and like this story.

I rate by gut and when I finished this story, I rated it a 4. Now, a little while later I'm wondering why because all my notes say 2 hearts, three at the very most. Do I change my rating? Nope, because my instinctual rating was a  4 and I want to go with my gut. So I wouldn't say avoid this book; just be prepared to roll your eyes. A lot.

Check out on Dreamspinner Press or Goodreads!

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