Sometimes a book is just too good to pass up, so when that happened with Taylor V. Donovan’s newest release, Bruce and I decided to both take a shot at it to see if we’d see the book differently, coming at it from different points of view.
The saying goes, “No two persons ever read the same book.” Well, in this case, I’d have to say we might have disproved that theory just a bit.
“If it’s the end of the world, you and me should spend the rest of it in love. Can we create something beautiful and destroy it?” – Pierce the Veil “Disasterology”
So first the necessary part of the review, Cedric suffers from severe OCD and has moved from England to Manhattan hoping that the change in scenery and perhaps change in therapist will help him to learn to live a more normal life. Kevin is a recently divorced father of three who is just discovering and coming to grips with his homosexuality. Cedric and Kevin have a fleeting encounter in a sex shop. They are drawn to one another. A serendipitous meeting throws them together and they start seeing one another. Cedric and Kevin struggle to overcome their fears and they fall in love.
Yes, I know that tells you only the basic plot about this book and it sounds like the same old formula- boy meets boy, boy looks for boy, boy finds boy, boy dates boy, boy wonders if boy likes other boy, boy realizes he is in love with other boy, and they live happily every after. Well let me tell you this wonderful book is ANYTHING but basic or mundane. This book is wonderful and I am in love with the endearing Cedric and affable Kevin!!!!
Cedric has to be one of the most memorable characters I have encountered in a very long time. In fact, just thinking about him makes me want to squeal like a 12 year old girl at a One Direction concert. He is handsome, quirky, and severely disabled. Yet, Cedric struggles to make himself better to be with the man that he loves. The palpable anxiety that Donavan is able to manufacture in this novel surrounding Cedric’s OCD is like nothing I’ve ever encountered before. The anxiety practically leaps from the page and as a reader I found myself struggling with Cedric to make himself better so he could live a more normal life in order to be with Kevin. Kevin on the other hand is masculine, affable, loving and understanding, and only wants to love Cedric and help him to overcome his disabling disease. I so hope that there is a follow up to this wonderful novel, because as the book ended I found myself wanting more. Donavan certainly broke the mold of the same old storyline and tells a fresh, magnificent story about disability and how love does conquer all! Great job!!!
Reviewed by: Bruce
Full disclosure: I am a complete sucker for books with a main character burdened by an affliction. I don’t even care what that affliction is: blindness, deafness, a physical or psychological disability, it matters not. I just wrap myself up ever so tightly in my super delusional savior complex cloak and go to work wishing I could make that person all better before the end of the book.
Taylor V. Donovan has tackled Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Disasterology 101, and has done so in a spectacular fashion, not painting Cedric Haughton-Disley into a mild corner of the disease. No, Cedric’s disorder is a screaming, full-blown Jackson Pollock chaos splattered portrait of OCD, and I don’t mind admitting there were times that Cedric’s crawl-out-of-his-skin-and-into-his-own-head detachment gave me my very own case of anxiety. It was a pitch perfect depiction by the author that elicited this not so simple reaction in me, and I don’t think it could have been any less subtle but any more realistic if it’d tried.
Disasterology has been defined as the act of creating something just to destroy it. Disasterology is the study of adversity. It is the story of Kevin Morrison, a divorced father of three children who is only just beginning to explore his sexuality, something he’d denied himself throughout the fifteen years of his marriage and before. Kevin’s life is the picture of perfect chaos and he is Cedric’s foil in every way, the very definition of disorder that’s introduced to a man whose psyche demands perfect order. Kevin and Cedric are a sharp contradiction, and the way they met should have been a full-stop disaster, but Cedric is nothing if not obsessively focused and the two men do eventually try to create something, only for Cedric’s disease to undermine it at nearly every turn.
There is nothing at all normal about the way Cedric and Kevin’s relationship evolves through all the challenges Cedric’s way of coping presents, and the demands he must make upon Kevin simply to maintain and function, or not function as the case may be. But normalcy is fluid, especially when one is willing to adapt to a new definition of the word.
Disasterology 101 is an opposites attract story. It’s a story of patience and perseverance and sometimes, a study in frustration. This isn’t your typical guys meeting and falling in love romance. This is a relationship constructed of hoops to be jumped through and obstacles to be overcome and concessions to be made. And it must also be about unconditional love because that’s the only kind that could possibly face down Cedric’s dysfunction.
One of the questions I asked myself when I finished this book was if Taylor V. Donovan’s writing was powerful enough to convey Cedric’s suffering. The answer is a flat-out, “you better believe it is.” This was a couldn’t-put-it-down read for me. The anxiety doesn’t let up for a moment, which is one of the things I loved about it so much, and was really just a big bonus when added to the fact that I also loved the characters in each of their roles, even when there were times I didn’t like them so much.
The unlikely romance sharing space alongside Kevin’s coming-out and Cedric’s disease added layer upon layer to this novel. It left me wondering what has happened to these two men after The End, because the author doesn’t pull out any unrealistic fixes or miracle drugs to cure Cedric. His OCD is always going to be a third party in this relationship, so I guess all we can do is count to thirty and hope for the best.
Reviewed by: Lisa