Thursday, March 29, 2012

Totally Joe by James Howe




You might not know from the cover, but this is a "gay" book--meaning, of course, that it has a gay character in it, and that the "gayness" is sort of the central issue.

Here's the thing: I want good gay books. I want AMAZING gay books--the kind that make me want to cry or that literally have me laughing. So, I'm sort of on a quest to find one. And if I don't find one, then I'm just going to have to write one myself.

As far as books go, I'll be honest and say Totally Joe wasn't that good.
As far as gay books go, it wasn't too bad.

Before I get too into critiquing this book, I'm going to say that I'm a picky reader. I'm also going to say that I finished this book (and only skipped a few parts), which, lately is a big deal. If I'm not engaged and I'm not invested in the characters then I stop reading.

I love the cover. I think it was done very well, and had I just seen it on a shelf somewhere I would have picked it up and read it. Of, course, I had to type in something like "gay fiction" on the library catalog to find the title and the call number before I saw it on a shelf and picked it up...but still.

I thought that the main character was cute and quirky. I think I would have liked the other characters, too, if they had been more present and I'd seen them rther than just hearing about them.

The story format was intriquing and different, but not done very well. It was written in second person, which I still haven't seen done well, except for once. The footnote idea was cute, but distracting, annoying, and detracted from the story rather than pushing it forward.

I'm not sure what the plot was...or if it even had a plot, which made the ending rather disappointing and boring.

My main issue with the book is that it seemed to follow "Tell, don't Show" rather than the much better phrase "Show, don't Tell." While it may have been true to what a sixth grader would write in an alphabiography for school, it didn't make for a good story. There was too much summarizing and "oh, by the way this happened, but you don't get to see it". I wanted to SEE what was happening rather than hear about it afterwards.


Okay. I'm done now. I'm going to say, this was a good read in some ways. It was occasionally funny. The characters were good. It had a good, strong voice. The format was fun. I probably read to the end because of the voice. Kudos for James Howe for writing this book--particuarly for writing a "gay" book.

Write on!

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