Review: Oskar Blows A Gasket by Claire Davis and Al Stewart

Armed with designer backpack full of make-up and retro music galore, Oskar sets off for college. And, with attitude even spikier than his heels, nothing is going to hold him back. Except maybe one thing…his past is shouting louder than the 80s songs he adores and it won't be ignored. Behind the effervescence are secrets, lies and sadness. Try as he might, not even Oskar can hide forever, and one day it isn't only pop icon Simon Le Bon who's going to catch up.

Who is writing letters? And why is a spy secretly following? 

Enter Bear, with dancing eyes and secrets of his own. Bear's kindness sparkles brighter than Lycra leggings, and everyone knows Oskar loves shiny things. Like every prophecy, their fates seem inevitably linked. As the walls of Oskar's defence crumble, Bear shows his hidden strength, but will it be enough to save them?

Find out in this far-out, zany tale of fame, first love and retro DJs.

Flawed characters are the best. Oskar is flawed.

Flawed characters aren’t always likable but they have a charisma that draws other characters (and the reader) into their world and we all want to be there, even if we may not always like said character. Oskar is that guy and man he has charisma in spades and an attitude to match. I liked how the authors introduce him though. I was expecting the bitchy snark based on the blurb, but the beginning balanced him out and softened him up enough so that I couldn’t wait to know more about what made Oskar tick.

Bear is Oskar’s complete antithesis and absolute complement. It takes a long time to get there, but it’s obvious from the beginning that Bear (the name that Oskar bestowed upon him) is completely powerless when he’s up against Oskar’s charms. I’m jumping the gun a bit and this is very cliche to say, but these two were made for one another.

The style in which the tale is told works perfectly for both their stories. They both get (and need to be) front and center in the present time and they both get to tell their histories through series of letters to family. While Oskar and Bear are complete opposites in just about every way, they both have a commonality in tales of heartbreaking childhoods. Very different, but the damage is still similar and like recognizes like, so I think the trust that eventually came to them made sense and was believable from the beginning.

Oskar is a sassy bitch in the beginning and Bear is more than happy to do his every bidding. Oskar wears his attitude like armor and Gareth just wants to be liked. It’s both amusing and slightly sad to read about them finding their feet in college. The first half of the story is told from Oskar’s perspective with a letter from Gareth to his father at the beginning of each. My heart broke in progressively smaller bits as I read Gareth’s letters until I was left completely shattered for him.
The method the authors used was just so good though and gave each of the characters extra depth in turn. I know I mentioned the style already, but it really was the perfect vehicle for this story so I ended up coming back to it.

The two come together, push each other away and let their quirks fly. It’s always the little things that bring a character to life, giving the whole story a level of depth and relatability that many others miss. Oskar is held together by his quirks and Gareth turns out to be a bit of an Oskar whisperer and their banter was a treat to read. Gareth is by nature a caretaker and Oskar needs caretaking, but the relationship still grew and balanced out because while Gareth did take care of Oskar, Oskar was fiercely protective of Gareth and Gareth needed someone to come to his defense with the passion only Oskar could bring to the party.

I was thankful that the two of them became an official couple well before the book was over. I needed to see them together and read how their dynamics evolved as their lives changed. Without that I don’t think I could have believed in their HEA as strongly as I did by the time the story was over. The book is more than just a coming of age novel, there is much more to it than that and the authors did an excellent job of balancing the story of a couple of broken boys with a heartwarming and humorous romance.

**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

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