Friday, January 2, 2015

Book Review: The Thing I Didn't Know I Didn't Know by Brent Hartinger

The Thing I Didn't Know I Didn't KnowBlurb:
"I guess this was what they meant by a loss of innocence. Who knew?"

Russel Middlebrook is twenty-three years old, gay, and living in trendy Seattle, but life isn't keeping up with the hype. Most of his friends have a direction in life—either ruthlessly pursuing their careers or passionately embracing their own aimlessness. But Russel is stuck in place. All he knows is that crappy jobs, horrible dates, and pointless hook-ups just aren't cutting it anymore.

What's the secret? What does everyone else know that he doesn't?

Enter Kevin, Russel's perfect high school boyfriend. Could rekindling an old flame be the thing Russel needs to get his life back on track? Or maybe the answer lies in a new friend, an eccentric screenwriter named Vernie Rose, who seems plenty wise. Or what the hell? Maybe Russel will find some answers by joining his best friend Gunnar's crazy search for the legendary Bigfoot!

One way or another, Russel is determined to learn the all-important secret to life, even if it's a thing he doesn't even know he doesn't know.

Todd’ rating:

I truly enjoyed this latest Russel Middlebrook book, which was most definitely *no longer Young Adult* and why it wasn't listed as being # 5 in the previous series.

This new, more adult continuation series begins with Russel out of college, working two separate, unfulfilling, dead-end jobs and sadly single.

It also begins, literally from the very first sentence, as Russel is on his way to a "Sup / Wanna fuck? / Your address?" type of hookup from Grindr (not mentioned by name, but it's 2014, right?)

So yeah, Russel may not be a complete manwhore in the book, but let's just say that Russel is more 'sexually available' as the story begins.

I was very glad to see that Russel mentions the following:

I don't think hook-ups are wrong exactly, but they don't feel quite right either. It's like opening a bag of Chips Ahoy! and only having a couple, and feeling good about your incredible willpower, but then spending the rest of the day passing through the kitchen and helping yourself to another cookie each time. I'd never thought of myself as the kind of guy who would do hook-ups. But you do it once, and you realize how easy it is, and it becomes kind of addictive.

That sort of sums up my thoughts on casual and immediate sex with strangers. Way back in the day before I met my husband, that hour or so would be fun, but always left me feeling so empty and cheap. *sigh*

The book also had Russel going back for a repeat with the same Grindr fling, where 'Boston' utterly horrified me to my bones.
B: "We can bareback now."

R: "What?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah, I'm on PrEP. Been seven days now too."

R: "That doesn't mean you can bareback," I said. That basically means having sex without condoms. Full sex. Penetrative sex.

B: "Sure, it does."

R: "No, no. You're still supposed to use condoms, at least with people you don't absolutely know are HIV-negative. Like, after being monogamous and getting tested together?"

Boston just looked at me, his face completely

MY. FACE. FELL. FUCKING. OFF.  : - O  No words.  Just no words, other than possibly "insanity".  7 days. Sure, let's play Russian roulette with our LIVES.  *Deep breath, deep breath.*  (Thankfully, Russel didn't go there.)

Sorry to devote so many words to the above sections, but they were honestly the two of the most impactful and memorable sections of the book for me.

The story mostly concentrated on how Russel felt his 23 year old life floundering, as it seemed everyone else his age had their proverbial shit together. He describes these people as having either "Unstoppable Career Drive" or "Passionate Aimlessness", of which he had neither.

In Russel's journey to find his own focus, he saves a drowning woman (yay), goes on a date with an armed Tea Party member (serious cringe), goes Bigfoot hunting (seriously, Do Not Ask – that plot point was extremely annoying for me), reconnects with his ex (*tingles*) and discovers his very own " meaning of life ".

The book had a lot of putting your crazy out on the front porch for all to see, but I really enjoyed it and do highly recommend it. I can’t wait for the next book!

My copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley for a fair, unbiased review.
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1 comment:

  1. The author wouldn't "go there" on barebacking stupidly, thank goodness. Brent Hartinger is a huge supporter of safe sex, and spearheaded a group of authors to write short stories supporting wise decisions. And I see there's some new ones!

    This new book sounds good. Must read.


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