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Subject 19

Subject 19 - Todd Young Lately I seem to be reading books that are hard to star - or maybe I'm just getting wishy washy. Wishy-washier.

This book would have gotten 4 stars for the quality of the narrative voice, as the writing was good and all the characters were amazingly consistent and quite complex throughout. However, I'd also give this 0 stars for the sheer idiocy of the plot, which made absolutely no sense to me.

As we open, Joel is an oversexed college kid who comes from a restrictive, gay-hostile religious community, and near the end of his first term of college away from home, he's embarking on a spree of public masturbation. Then he signs up in a "study" along with many other guys, who all turn out to be gorgeous, gay, and, events will show us, morons. The study is run by a creepy guy named Umberto, and although everything about the sign-up is immediately suspicious, from the creepy 'doctors' and aides to the 100-page contract that none of the boys bother reading, the subjects all enroll, and proceed to let the clearly phony aides inject them with unknown substances that affect their sex drives and genitalia. At one point, half the subjects wake up with no cock and balls, but they allow themselves to be appeased by a brief explanation and don't protest being shot up with additional doses. I kept wishing the boys would take action but they seem to have the willpower of cows, even before they were injected with mysterious drugs - for example, on signing in, they are given robes that don't even cover their asses, but not one guy thought to tie a robe around his waist...nobody even says, "hey, how about some pants?" There is a lot of sex in this book, but none of it is particularly sexy. I don't think the author meant it to be sexy, so it's not a failure in the writing.

This one left me with mixed feelings, because I enjoyed this while reading it, but after finishing it I have absolutely no sense of satisfaction, catharsis or understanding. Maybe I just don't have appreciation for this type of story. After all, there are lots of genres and writings that aren't for me - I've never been able to get into magic realism (which this is not), or Kurt Vonnegut, or Bret Easton Ellis, and have never been able to get far into Gravity's Rainbow either... :)