Didn't convince me

Spy Stuff - Matthew J. Metzger


I’m sorry to say I can’t get rid of the impression this is done halfway.

I was all the time “Yes, but no”.

“Okay, but not really”.

“No, but whatever”.

I wanted to be dazzled with all my being but I couldn’t. I was starstruck by What it Looks Like (WILL for friends), so I know what this author is able to do. I know he has the power to put me on my knees and make me plea. He has done it before.

So it was no wonder I expected fireworks here, too.

But there were none.

I’m even brave enough to say this is closer to the “mehness” than I’m comfortable with.

How the hell did that happen?

Well, my biggest problem is Jude. He doesn’t work for me. He’s so perfect, so mature, so confident, so upstanding… That kind of integrity takes years to achieve, years to say “I don’t care what people think of me because I’m happy with myself and what I want”.

All the friends are so honest and loyal, no inner conflicts whatsoever, no real teenager bullshit or stupid bravado or insecurities that can challenge oneself’s utter beliefs. They were all sweet as pies and awesome and true. I mean, I’d love to have them all as friends, from the goofy guy to the grumpy and suspicious one, but they are 15 years old and sounded as if they were 30 (or more).

I had to suspend disbelief for most of the book.

Of course, I’m generalizing. Of course, there are exceptions. But this “exception” in particular was not believable for me.

I would expect these teens to be like the asshole who picks on Anton endlessly. I would expect easier to find many more of those who simply vacuum seal.

But Anton comes to school and he has loads of BFF in the first week, just like that.

It’s true that he disguises himself as a boy, and nobody is the wiser. So nobody thinks he’s a freak, as people in his other school used to think.

The father is so OTT-ishly one-dimentional. He was grating on my nerves but not because he’s an asshole, but because he’s too forced, IMO. I personally believe parental issues were better displayed in WILL.

The transgender reality was supposed to be the special asset of this story, but it felt decaffeinated and dull. Do not misunderstand me, I’m glad of the insight, of Anton living with this reality about himself, with learning to live with himself and his relationships and his sexuality. I loved all of that. So that’s why I’m shocked that I was feeling something close to… disappointment? Frustration? Somehow it didn’t live up to my expectations. Somehow I felt there was more to it that should have been conveyed. Somehow I wanted more, but not because I lost my marbles because of it and wanted to revel in it for a few more pages, but because the parts I was given didn’t live up to their whole potential.

It was a little of a miss for me.

I think my problem was not the transgender aspect per se, but the romantic/sexual one. The relationship is… off.

Labels. The project at school is so… convenient and opportune. Perfect chance to discuss the topic and see how open-minded and solidly cool these teenagers are. Pretentious. I felt I was sitting in a classroom myself, being taught how to respect people because they are just people. I got it crystal clear, shall we get to the next issue, miss?

I laugh at this but the people I liked the most here were the teachers. Both women, they were great. They don’t even talk that much in the whole book, but their presence is larger than life. Bonus.

What a pity. Maybe I had too great expectations after WILL.

So, not a bad one, but it didn’t rock my world.