“One thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ― Haruki Murakami
Evan Drake is the captain of the basketball team, and an active member of his High School drama club. Though coming to terms slowly with his own sexuality, he is horrified to see his team-mates responses to a gay kid in his class. The summer musical is on the rise, and Evan is asked to audition for the lead role, the musical being a factual portrayal of the events of Erno’s first book in this series.
Things do not go well for Evan after he starts to realise his feelings for the play’s author and fellow drama club attendee Noah, and when a public display of his true sexuality leaves him on the outs with the entire town, Evan struggles to put his life back on track.
With the help of Noah, his mother, his coach and some familiar faces, he triumphs over adversity to a pleasing end.
My page-turning fingers are on fire, I was flicking so fast through this book. Unfortunately, it was simply so I could reach the end quicker and put the pages behind me. It’s a condition I struggle with when a good thing turns sour on the page.
My name is BJ Sheppard, and I’m new here, so the last thing I want to do is start off on a bad foot. Ultimately, however, I’ve been given a job, and my job I shall do. My first review for TNA is for Jeff Erno’s new release, Dumb Jock: The Musical.
Though Erno is a gifted writer and his dialogue is humorous and believable, this particular novel didn’t ring as true to me as the first and second additions to this series. Whilst I fell in love with Jeff and Brett and the family and friends they gathered, Dumb Jock: The Musical left a little to be desired. Don’t get me wrong, Jeff Erno was my go to guy when I decided to get into M/M romance books; he’s well established and a very talented man, but as time draws on, I find myself wishing for a little more depth, and thus, turn to his contemporaries more to get what I need.
There were some great standout moments in this book, and I particularly enjoyed the way that Evan’s character dispelled the typical jock myth and also pursued his love of drama. He had a strength in him that made him stand up for what he believed in, auditioning, for the most part, to stand up for his sexuality and prove that the gay kid has just as much right to be a jock as any, a sentiment firmly grasped in the earlier books. However, I felt this conclusion was reached in a hurried fashion, not allowing a realistic transition from indifference to pride to unfurl in a timely manner. It seemed that by chapter three, Erno had crafted a character of militant belief without a lot of build-up. Nonetheless, the imagery he used was powerful, that stage kiss putting me in mind of the climactic ending to the first part of Tales of Foster High by John Goode.
The fall-out from this kiss started a chain reaction of events that examined the place of the homosexual in the high school hierarchy, which I believe is a very important message in the YA gay novel, and I was glad to see Mr Erno tackle some of these very appropriate issues with his smooth writing and colourful explanations. The parental characters and those in authority, whether good or bad to our protagonists, were a delight to read, invoking a whole range of feelings that brought me into the story the way I had been in the first book. I was rooting for these characters.
Ultimately, however, I found more wrong with the book than I did right. Though I enjoyed the attempt, it couldn’t shine a light on the earlier installments, and the events that transpired felt all too familiar, having seen each of them written before (and with more emotion) by other authors. I would love to have seen the emotional components of this book analysed further, an extra layer added. Noah seemed a little convenient for my liking, and through description came across more like a cartoon dog than a gay teen with all his “toothy grins”. The addition of an irrelevant foot fetish was a bit inappropriate as well, and served no purpose, whilst the introduction of choreographer, Taylor, offered an ominous feeling with no delivery or follow through.
While I’m sure the die-hard Erno fans of the world will love this book, I found myself not quite as enraptured as I had wanted to be, the writing not quite getting to the heart of it for me. I have no doubt this book will sell and be popular with the teen audience, which is what is important, but I think that as an adult reader it fell short of the line, a little too two-dimensional and lacking in heart.
I have seen this same story elsewhere and while Jeff Erno is the father of M/M fiction, of late he seems to be phoning it in. He clearly draws his inspiration from his favourite shows and books, but I would have liked to have seen his inspirations incorporated instead of simply reiterated. The epilogue set up for a follow on story with the character, Bryan, in Florida, but I’m not sure I engaged enough this time to want to continue with the series.
While I wish this book the best of luck in its reception, my own opinion won’t allow me to give it any more than a 2 star rating. I wish Mr Erno every success in the sales of this book, and a strong and creative future.