The Initiation - David Keane

Cerisaye's Review:

Subtitled A Cautionary Tale, this is an extremely bleak and depressing tale of innocence corrupted and youthful dreams and expectations shattered.

The subject matter is very dark and the sex both relentless and graphic. Set in the seedy world of male prostitution in Birmingham, England, it uncompromisingly depicts abusive, violent and non-consensual relationships. It all begins with a school camping trip during which naturally enough a group of 18 year old boys experiment with gay sex. These are boys trying to prove themselves as men, physically mature but emotionally ill equipped to deal with the pressures they face, internal and external.

The story focuses on Alex and Paul, and their friends Dale, Tony and Chris. Vulnerable and open to exploitation, they become dangerously confused about the difference between sex and love. There is a love story of sorts, but it forms only a very small part of the book. If you're looking for gay romance this is definitely not the book for you. There's a strange mixture of gritty realism and melodrama that nonetheless manages to convey a sense that this is what it's like for those unfortunate youths caught by circumstances of poverty and low expectations and exploited by unscrupulous men involved in the male sex industry.

Littered with the evidence of extremely sloppy editing and written in a simplistic and spare style that does nothing to alleviate the nastiness of its subject matter, I hesitate to recommend this book. However, it does make an interesting (and very British perhaps) contrast to "Can't Buy Me Love" by Chris Kenry (see review). Read with extreme caution.

Ladymol's Review:

This is possibly the most difficult book I've chosen to review, not because it's good (because it's not) but because it's not possible just to dismiss this as badly written porn: it's more dangerous than that.

The story centres around a group of schoolboys in the midlands in England. I'm very open to the belief that there are more gay men in the world than the number of gay films and books would suggest- but every man? Every school boy in the sixth form willing to suck and fuck with no compunction? Set aside this ludicrous premise, the book has the subtitle of: Acautionary tale. That's rather like drinking three bottles of whisky and telling your children about the dangers of alcohol. This book is what it purports to warn against. It titillates; it encourages violence and under-age sex; at its very worst (and believe me this book is awful) it encourages torture and eventually death for sexual gratification.

If the book was well written, there would be some justification for raising the issues of exploitation and the rent-boy culture, but I'm surprised this book actually got published. The punctuation is non-existent (hmm, I wonder if the author went through the English school system of the 1960s, too), the language is flat and uninteresting, and the grammar full of inaccuracies. What really made this book stand out for me, however, was the dreadful writing style. We switch from points of view within one sentence, so you are never really sure who is telling their tale, giving their version of events. This is shown at its worst when we are in the point of view of one of the boys who is then snuffed out for sexual gratification, and the pov switches to his killer. Well, duh, it kind of has too, as the narrator is suddenly dead!

Besides all of this, you have fundamental mistakes such as the grieving mother of the boy getting her son's name wrong at one point.

And then you've got the characterisation. Let's not call them characters, because they dance to the command of the author. They're puppets. If he wants them screaming in fury, they do; next scene they're loving and tender - no explanation, it just suits the so-called plot. One minute a boy is screaming in pain as he's tortured, and his way of getting better is to indulge in some more painful sex because he suddenly decides he loves his torturer.

Why am I bothering to review this book when there are so many great gay novels out there? Well, firstly, this book is sold openly on Amazon, along with real books. Therefore, I can imagine a scenario where someone who is curious about gay culture might want to dabble and picks up this expoitative trash. I pity them. But much more frighteningly, I read it through, and not just because I had to for this review - (I would never condem something before I read it). The real reason this book scares me so much is that I'm now contaminated by the very thing I condem.

Let me be contaminated for you.

Don't bother with this book.

Publisher: Millivres-Prowler Group Ltd; ISBN: 1902644174

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