Book Review – Vince by J.M. Snyder

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance
Paperback: 100 pages
Publisher: (November 17, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1411602919
ISBN-13: 978-1411602915

About the book:

“Loser. Outcast. Freak. At seventeen, the names no longer hurt Vince Sanford. He’s different from other students at his school and always has been — the pep rallies, school dances, name-brand clothes and football games and fifth quarter parties, none of that interested him. Not anymore. There was a time when he did fit in, when his best friend had been Eric Somers, the most popular boy in school. They lived around the block from each other and were inseparable. But something happened between them the summer before high school that tore their friendship apart, leaving Vince with an anger, a hatred, that he can’t control. Now, a few years later, Eric wants back in his life again but Vince is afraid to give him a second chance.”


How would you react if you were fourteen, flushed with first love for your (same-sex) best friend and then cruelly rejected by said friend?

Vince (the main character) has his heart broken when Eric (his best buddy and first love) rejects his declaration of love. Vince reacts by retreating into his shell and transforming into the school “weirdo” and “social outcast” while Eric goes on to be “Mr. Popular – All American Jock”.

When the novel opens, it’s three years later and the two boys, now both seventeen year-old high-school seniors, reconnect after their years of estrangement via a chance encounter. Eric sends out feelers for reconciliation, but Vince is not having any of it! Eric pretty much spends the best part of the novel trying to make amends to Vince and hinting (very strongly) that he does return Vince’s feelings.

Unfortunately for Eric, Vince has a bit of a “teenage drama-queen” in him and he rejects Eric every chance he gets, insisting that he now “hates” his ex-best friend. But since the POV (point-of-view) is Vince’s, we (the reader) know that Vince is just deep in denial fighting against his feelings and that he actually remains head over heels in love with Eric.

J. M. Snyder builds Vince up as an angsty teenage gay boy rebelling against all of his society’s dictates, but he’s not entirely convincing as a bad boy. I liked Vince! He may dress the part and act the part, but he was still a good boy as far as I’m concerned. He does his chores, has concrete plans for College, gets good grades, can’t lie to his mom and remains a good friend (in spite of himself) when Eric trusts him with a confidence. So what’s the weak part of the novel? So much time is spent on Vince that we never really get to know Eric. Flashbacks show us how the relationship built up between the two boys, but present-time Eric is an enigma.

Since this novel is actually two novellas-in-one, with Part two opening with Eric visiting Vince who is away attending Film School in New York, I thought this would have been the perfect time for J. M. Snyder to shift to Eric’s POV. But no, it’s a continuation of Part One with Vince continuing to be in denial about his feelings. So for me, the entire second part of the novella was just an extension of the first. J. M. Snyder is a good writer, but I found myself “figuratively” fidgeting and going “author, get on with it already!”

Just some points of caution to readers. Vince is prone to BDSM-tinged sexual fantasies involving Eric that may disturb some people. And there is some violence near the end when Vince finally gives in to his anger towards Eric.

I guess I’ll be one of those calling out for a sequel from J. M. Snyder, but this time, with Eric’s POV. As I’ve said, the author is a pretty gifted writer. If you’ve read a couple of the published male-male romances, you’d be surprised by how much crappy writing is out there. J. M. Snyder is in the top echelon as far as I’m concerned. Plus, her novel isn’t 90% erotica/ sex scenes, in fact, it’s refreshingly free from sex scenes and spends more time fleshing out the characters and developing the story.

Other reviews of Vince found at Elisa Rolle’s Reviews and Literary Nymph’s Reviews Only.

Check out Vince and help support J. M. Snyder. It’s also available in large-print format.

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~ by RandomizeME on April 6, 2009.

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