Nick, an introverted university student, has broken up with his long-term girlfriend. When his best friend Hannah tries to cheer him up by taking him to a party at the house of a rich entrepreneur named Tom, Nick gets too drunk too fast and wakes up the next morning on Tom’s couch, in Tom’s pyjamas. So begins Nick and Tom’s friendship, which soon defines and redefines itself in unexpected ways, forcing Nick to ask himself: just what exactly is at stake if he wants to keep having so much fun? Hang Out is an exciting exploration of our sexual limits, of new relationships, and what it means to know your sexuality, or why it even matters.
I can't really call this a romance. There's not a HEA or even a HFN, though I guess Nick ends up taking the lessons learned and moving on. What this book represents is more of a journey to self-discovery. For Nick, that journey takes him from firmly heterosexual to maybe gay (though possibly more of a GFY) when he meets Tom at some party, and starts hanging out with the guy. Nick is in his final year of studies, and Tom is some kind of entrepreneur working for himself. From the start, their relationship is odd, and while I could see Nick becoming more and more ensnared in this new relationship, becoming more comfortable with being possibly gay, I didn't feel as if Tom was serious about it.
The writing style, with its oddly twisted prose, didn't make for easy reading, and the many editing mistakes also took me out of the story repeatedly. Still, I read on, because I wanted to see if my gut feeling about Tom would turn out to be true.
Spoiler: It did.
There wasn't much of a plot, just two men hanging out and having sex, without ever actually dating, plenty of sex (once Nick starts getting into the gay part), but I understood what exactly Nick saw in Tom, and why he kept going back for more. They never did anything outside of taking clothes off. There were no dates, no dinners outside of Tom's house - just nothing.
There were many side characters, including Nick's friend Hannah, his ex-GF Sarah, and other friends of his, that all seemed to flit in and out. The main character read very young, younger even than he was supposed to be, and he didn't know himself very well, nor did he really have good insights into what his actions were doing to others, and how others viewed him. Ah, youth.
The inevitable heartbreak was really the only thing that smacked of realism in this book. There is an overall morose, depressed tone to it that I didn't expect from the blurb. I expected more of a romance, to be quite honest, a real GFY, with Nick and Tom getting some kind of HFN, and this may be the reason that this book didn't work so well for me. It's also entirely possible that because of my expectations, I completely missed the point this book was trying to make.
**I received a free copy of this book from its listed editor, Leo X. Robertson. A positive review was not promised in return. **
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