Book – Naked
Author – Todd Youn
Star rating - ★★★★☆
No. of Pages – 96
Cover – Okay
POV – 3rd person, dual POV
Would I read it again – Maybe
Genre – LGBT, Abuse, Contemporary, Kidnapping
Warning: This story deals with rape, gang rape and the use of drugs to facilitate rape. In comparison, the kidnapping is very tame.
Interestingly, this story had a real emotional impact, though the actual writing and editing needed some work. The story was told in sporadic scenes that could often have been much better linked and dragged out, but the further the story went on, the more appropriate the shorter scenes came, when revealing parts of the plot.
Yes, the story deals with rape. It's never shown explicitly or outright called that, but you get enough of an emotional punch to really make you feel like there is no other possible conclusion. Worse still, the rape is perpetrated from one brother to another, which is a total betrayal of trust, a complete abuse of power (from older brother to younger) and gut-wrenching.
Both Leigh and Paul were actually really great characters. At first, I thought Leigh was really full of himself, in love with himself and a bit of an ass, but as the story progressed – especially after he escaped his kidnapping – I began to realise that was a mask to hide his true pain.
Paul, similarly, became a recluse, unable to speak up about what had happened to him, because his asshole of a brother got there first and twisted the facts. Just thinking about that bastard Mark makes me angry.
For me, although the execution of the story needed work, it actually worked just fine. It would have been great had it been longer, with a little more showing than telling and more exploration of the characters, but I got what I needed for the story to work. I gave it a 4 for the complete emotional rollercoaster it took me on and for the fact that I fully intended to put it down after a full chapters, only to stay up past midnight to get it finished. I needed to know what happened. I needed some kind of resolution, even if I couldn't get justice.
The ending, for me, was pretty perfect. Though absolution for Paul and Leigh would have been fantastic, it was also obvious that it would never happen. And, unfortunately, everything that happened in this story is perfectly plausible in the real world, in the exact same conditions. Once a kid is thought gay, especially in certain parts of America, you can kiss goodbye to justice, being listened to, being understood or even being treated like a human being.
In the end, the justice Paul and Leigh got was in escape. And that was the best thing for them.