Out of Position (Out of Position #1)


Title: Out of Position (Out of Position #1)
Author: Kyell Gold
Publisher: Sofawolf Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Out of Position
Genre: M/M Contemporary Anthropomorphic Romance, Sports
Length: Novel (324 pages)
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by Cole

Review Summary: An incredibly touching, exciting, and emotionally epic story of a fox and tiger’s journey into love and the world of professional football.

BLURB

Dev is a football player at Forester University, a small liberal arts college where he and his teammates get to strut around and have their pick of the girls on Friday nights. That’s as good as it gets—until he meets Lee, a fox with a quick wit and an attractive body.

Problem is, Lee’s not a girl. He’s a gay fox, an activist who never dreamed he’d fall for a football player. As their attraction deepens into romance, it’s hard enough for them to handle each other, let alone their inquisitive friends, family, and co-workers. And if school is bad, the hyper- masculine world of professional sports that awaits Dev after graduation will be a hundred times worse.

Going it alone would make everything easier. If only they could stop fighting long enough to break up.

With cover and interior illustrations by Blotch.

Out of Position

REVIEW

I’d like to say first, that Out of Position is the first anthropomorphic novel that I have ever read. For those of you who are not familiar, the literal meaning of anthropomorphism is the attribution of human qualities and characteristics onto animals or any non-living object. In M/M romance, this translates to the animation of animals in a human way — animals that walk, talk, act and have a society like humans, depending on the variance of the story.  Many readers of M/M romance often read shapeshifter stories, but this is very different. In essence, these characters are always animals, yet they have human qualities. I think this is a largely unexplored area in M/M romance, and I was intrigued by Out of Position by Kyell Gold and the beautiful illustrations by Blotch within its pages (some of which you can see here, on the Sofawolf website) and I thought I should give this a try. I was elated to find a wonderful story with extremely real characters, and even more surprised to find that this story showed me a new way to understand American Football and its players — a sport, which I must admit, has often baffled me and only ever given me the pleasure of watching hunky men with tight butts ram each other in testosterone overload. In honor of tomorrow’s Superbowl, I have moved this review up a few days, so that those of you who are football fans can make a weekend out of this, and those of you who do not understand football, might just gain some insight about the game from reading this novel, just as I did.

Out of Position tells the story of two males: Dev the tiger, a football player and all-around jock at Forester University, and Lee the fox, a queer activist who has a score to settle with the football team. They are both juniors (though most of their time in college takes place as seniors) and while Dev is skating through school picking up a new vixen every week at the local bar after the game with his buddies and floating on the small amount of fame he gets at their small, liberal college, Lee is still reeling from the gay-bashing and beating of his best friend Brian the previous year. Brian and Lee were almost too much alike, feeding off of each others ideals of queer activism and leading their local chapter of FLAG, the queer activist group on campus. Then, one night, under circumstances that are still not completely known, Brian gets cornered after a verbal altercation with a few member of the football team, then beaten. Now Lee is all alone, Brian having moved away, and his anger at those football players has spread to all of the jocks, who he knows are one and the same. He comes up with a plan: he will dress in drag, as he makes a very convincing vixen, go out and bag a football player. Then, when they get back to his place, he will show one of them how they’d been attracted to another male — that they are at least a little bit queer themselves. What he doesn’t expect when he bags Dev and brings him home, is that after he convinces him to sleep with him that Dev will want to stay and get to know him. This is how their secret affair begins, already leading to an uneasy relationship between a tiger who has never felt this way for another male and cannot come out lest he ruin his reputation and playing career, and a fox who never expected this tryst to become a relationship, much less one that forces him back into the closet and completely turns his life in a new direction. However, those are not the only problems. These problems are compounded by Lee’s insitance that Dev has the talent to make the pros, and if that becomes a reality, if they will ever be able to have an open relationship. Even more, Brian has his own revenge to make, and his activist spirit has become maddeningly fueled by his renewed hatred of football players. No matter the collateral damage, even to his friend Lee, Brian will do anything to show the world that one out player will make it easier for gay sports players everywhere to come out. But can an out player even have a career in football, or will he become lost in the bureaucracy of pro football?


One of the most incredible things about this novel is its portrayal of the sport. We know that Dev is a player, but Lee is a very big fan also. So we get to see the sport from two, often very different, perspectives. The story shows us the art of football, how graceful and intelligent of a sport it can be. It also does this in a way that someone completely ignorant of the sport can understand. I knew only a small bit about how the game is played and though a large portion of the book deals with the sport and the games in which Dev plays, I never felt left behind in the action. Here is how Lee describes the sport in his small chapter “Lee’s Guide to Football”:

Even though I was still at that age where I wanted to be like my dad, I didn’t have much interest in football. But with the championship coming up, he thought it was the perfect time to get me started. Whatever else he’s done in his life—and I’ve run through the list more than once—he got me into football. So if you’re one of those kids who likes chess and books, listen up, because reading this story you’re in the middle of is like growing up in Nicholas Dempsey Middle School. You don’t have to like football to get through it, as my dad told me, but it helps.

See, what I always hated about football was that I was bad at it. I’d only played one football game up to then, at camp. I didn’t understand the rules. To me, it was just a stupid excuse for big kids to beat up little kids. What my dad told me is that football is actually like a chess game.

What Lee said is exactly true about this story: “You don’t have to like football to get through it…but it helps.” Football fans will certainly love this story, but there is so much more here than the sport — especially the navigation through the bureaucracy of the league later in the novel and the evolution of Dev and Lee’s relationship throughout their difficult journey to an HFN — that this story is not only for sports fans.

I must say, though, that however much I loved this story for its portrayal of the sport, the real power of this story is in its characterizations. Dev and Lee are given so much room to grow, and they have such powerful voices in the way they alternately tell their story, that they became much more than fully-fledged characters to me, so much that I often found myself blurring the lines between their animalism and humanity. The other characters are especially filled out as well, and there are a whole slew of them. The secondary cast is quite large, as this story moves through almost three years of their relationship, in their journey from small college town to the big leagues. Sometimes, because of the POV, the characters were an enigma, and only later did I come to understand them by their actions. Lee, in fact, is often an enigma himself. I suppose this is due to his fox nature, which is sly and cunning and the fact that he often goes from stubborn to depressed to proud to angry. I liked that I had to work to understand him, just as I had to work to understand Brian through Lee’s memories and experiences with him (though Brian is a skunk). It wasn’t to easy to get to know the characters (although Dev is an exception, as he is often an open book, genuine and heartbreakingly honest at times). By the time the novel came to a close, I felt like I understood them better that I would have if I had been told, rather than shown through how they think, about who they really are. They were more real.

There is often such a huge difference in the way that Dev and Lee think that it creates problems in their relationship where no problem would have normally occured. They clash so often that this is not your typical romance story, though that is more of a critique of many middle-of-the-road romances in this genre than of this novel. Dev and Lee work very hard and go through some very difficult times in their relationship to progress to where they can finally be open and honest with each other. Lee, for being “out” and proud, is often the most closed off because of his fear and anger. Sometimes Dev is clueless that there is a problem at all, not used to being in a relationship, especially not with another male and/or species, that this creates problems in itself. Also, both Dev and Lee often keep things from the other in an effort to protect them, though, like this would in most relationships, doesn’t end up working too well for them.  This is a bit of a long book at 300+ pages, that with its sequel (at 400+ pages) could be called an epic journey, for all that they reside in a world mostly like our own, with the exception of animals as people.  There are almost always reminders that they are animals, which I loved, although I sometimes wondered just how sloppy their kisses were and how dangerous preparing someone for sex would be with claws.  Yeesh!  However, after getting into the groove of the story, I relaxed and allowed myself to go with it.  This isn’t always light tale, but neither is despairing.  In my opinion, it is quite uplifting and truly worth the effort.

The beautiful illustrations only add more the story, and I’ve included some here to give you an example of what is included in the story. The sequel to this novel, Isolation Play, picks up about 5 minutes after this one ends, with a very interesting cliffhanger. Luckily, you won’t have to wait for the sequel, as it came out last week and I will be reviewing it next week (though you should be warned that as it was just released, for now it is only available in paperback). I absolutely loved this story, especially getting to know Lee and Dev (as well as Fisher and Salim, who I really loved) and I think you will as well. I highly recommend this story, especially to football fans, though no love of the sport is needed.

I will be reviewing Isolation Play next Wednesday, February 9. You can find the book and look at some of the illustrations from it here (although I warn you that there are spoilers in the blurb for those of you who have not read the first installment).

The illustrations included here were posted with the permission of Kyell Gold and the artist, Blotch. You can visit Kyell’s website here, and Blotch’s website here.  Note:  The ebook format of this book does not include illustrations.

Author

26, male, gay, baker, knitter, sometimes writer, and voracious reader of all things | contact me: cole.riann[at]gmail.com

78 comments

  • Hey, I got OOP about halfway through last year and it immediately became my favourite book. Originally meant to buy Dog’s Days of Summer, which you mentioned earlier, so glad I bought this as well (Recommend DDOS, loved the characters and the ending). Recently received Isolation Play as well, so excited at reading it, more so since your review.

    Anyway, I was rooting around more recently and found an extra bonus piece to the story. I haven’t yet read it but it takes place near the end of OOP and “sheds a bit more light on a controversial event, and a controversial character”. Skimming through the comments I didn’t notice anyone mention it, so thought I’d let you know.

    http://www.furaffinity.net/view/4039481/

    Reply
  • Having spent much of childhood watching classic Disney movies, I would think that I’d have jumped at the opportunity of reading this book.

    And yet, there’s just something about it (be it the sex, however little there is of it, or just the fact that while I do read shifter romance, I don’t like shifted romances) that makes me think that it’ll be better if I pass on “Out of Position.”

    But hey, different strokes for different folks, right?

    Anyhoo, I just wanted to point out that your review, Cole, has got to be one of the most enthusiastic ones I’ve come across for this book. 🙂

    Reply
    • Yeah, I can see that. It was certainly a concern of mine, and though, in the end, it didn’t bother me at all, I understand how it might others. I certainly can’t begrudge you that!

      Thank you for the compliment, this book and its sequel have been two of my favorites so far this year 🙂

      Reply
  • Great review! And you should definitely read Bridges as it is also very well written. Still, of all the books by Kyell, Out of Position is my favorite. I ordered it the moment it was released online and read it in one day. Since then I’ve read it 4 more time and had bought the Kindle version as well. While the kindle version is cheaper, the paperback has all the beautiful illustrations drawn by Blotch and they are totally worth the extra money. Also, Sofawolf should have hardcover print of Out of Position out for ordering sometime this summer. I will try to buy it again so that it matches my hardcover Isolation Play, which I think is a great sequel to OOP 🙂

    For the people that turn away from the book because of the anthropomorphism, the sex scenes really read more human and emotional than you would expect. For me, it helps me relate to the characters better since it removes the racial and ethnic aspects of the characters that sometimes feel distracting for me when reading romance novels. Also the swish of the tail and a twitch of the ear actually serve to let readers see what the character feels and thinks. The enhanced sensory for sounds or smells also added to the descriptions in many scenes.

    Kyell has the first two chapters posted on his page for furrag, sofurry and furaffinity, though except for furrag, they all requires people to make an account before reading his stories. People can try reading them first before buying the book to see if they are ok with anthropomorphic characters or not since a lot of the sex scenes in the book take place in those chapters. Personally, the two chapters were the first anthropomorphic stories I had read and I was hooked ever since.

    Reply
    • TomLeo — Wow, thank you for all of the information and thank you for the compliment. Though, I must say that I was so excited about this book after I finished it that the review pretty much wrote itself. I finished Isolation Play yesterday, and I might even like it more than this story, but I know that will vary between readers because each book has a different tone and deals with different subject matter.

      It is a testament to how much I loved both of these books that I am going to buy both of them in print (which I NEVER do), especially since I didn’t have to splurge on a copy anyway, they were for review. $20 a book is a lot of other ebooks that I won’t be able to buy, but I know that I will read these many times and I want to be able to enjoy the beautiful artwork to its fullest.

      I agree with you about the sex in anthropomorphism (at least here, as these are the only ones I’ve read so far). I didn’t start out with distaste at the idea, but I admit that I was a bit wary. I was so surprised to find that the sex scenes within were so much more intimate than many of the scenes I read between humans, who end up having very animalistic sex themselves. I also think that it helps that we get to know the characters so well and that the ratio of sex to their daily lives is very skewed — there is very little sex in both books. This way, we see how flawed the characters are and after the first few pages, I never thought of the characters as sweet and cartoony animals. They just seemed like people.

      Thanks for your comments and for the info 🙂

      Reply
  • While I loved your review and your enthusiasm about this book, I don’t think I’m quite that adventurous. The concept is just wayyyyyyy too weird 😉

    Reply
    • Hey Bogusia! Its been over a week since I finished this book and I’m still thinking about it. I absolutely loved it 🙂

      Thank you, and if you can remember, I’d love to hear what you think when you’ve read it!

      Reply
      • I love Out of Position!!I have read it and I think the people should read it. I like a lot how Lee and Dev’s relationship evolves even if they have to face a lot of obstacle(Brian is a poor, lonely and unfortunate skunk who is looking for attention), they are always together, and I don’t mean in the physical way. Lee and Dev have to live apart from time to time, but they are always sure of their love and it is beautiful:)This story is not just “furry literature” for me it’s simply very good literature. It is well written,entertaining and authentic. Thanks Cole for presenting this book:)

        Reply
        • This story is not just “furry literature” for me it’s simply very good literature.

          I agree with you, and I think that that is why all different types of readers seem to love this book, they connect to the characters as characters, not animals 🙂

          I’m so happy that you liked this book, Bogusia 🙂

          Reply
  • It’s not just about the price when it comes to paperback and ebooks. I live in Europe and shipping is just a pain.

    The sequel is not out in ebook format yet? Anyone knows when/if it will be?

    Reply
    • That really is a pain… I wish there was a better system in place.

      Basque said above that the publisher usually waits a year to release the books in ebook format. That’s probably because Sofawolf is not an epublisher, so when they publish a book they run a print release just like most traditional publishers (I assume that is because the majority of their publications are art-based). That allows them to make sure they make back any money they put out to publish the book before making it available online.

      I’m sorry to say that that means you probably will have to wait 🙁

      Reply
    • Saga, I totally know what you meen :/ And with me being a student the cost is just too much. Did you see my comment earlier? When I asked almost the same Q? It looks like Out of Position is available in Nook-eBook from Barnes and Noble for ca.10 dollars, and it looks like it’s possible to download a Nook-app to the computer so the Nook-ebook can be read on it. But I’ll have to look at it more closely before I try it.

      Sometimes books from small publishers like this I’ve been able to find at adlibris.se but not this one 🙁 I wouldn’t mind buying it in print if it was from a Swedish company.

      Reply
      • Madde, I bought out of position from Amazon (ebook) and used my a kindle app for my laptop. I’m less happy about not being able to buy the sequel but I guess it’s more their loss.

        Reply
        • Come on now Madde and saga, I’m Swedish and I bought it along with Waterways from sofawolf, and I’m a poor student myself 😀 Cost me around 650 SEK, money well spent for the amazing work from Kyell Gold.

          Perhaps I can loan it to you!

          Reply
  • If you want something different from the adult anthropomorphic Genre I highly recommend:

    Justin Lamar’s Basecraft Cirrostratus ( http://furplanet.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=470 )

    Bridges by Kyell Gold ( http://furplanet.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=433 ) which I think is the most oddly touching of his books.

    and of course if the short story collections FANG each of which have a Kyell Gold story

    in the general audiences section

    Graveyard Greg’s Deathless ( http://furplanet.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=478 )

    and Ryan Campbell’s Smiley and the Hero ( http://furplanet.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=494 )

    Reply
    • Wow Zia! Thank you so much for all of the info, I’m definitely going to have to check these out. Bridges looks like a really great book — I’m definitely going to have to read that one 🙂

      Thanks again for the info!

      Reply
      • Bridges is an excellent and highly erotic read. You should find out how it began 🙂

        Also if you’re reading the Volle series remember to get The Prisoner’s Release. I know a fair bit about the available comics and books in this genre 😀

        If you feel like a comic book I.S.O. and Circles are also excellent reads and well crafted. They both have collected trade paperbacks.

        Reply
        • I really want to read the Volle series, but I was a big unsure where The Prisoner’s Release fit in there — but I think I’ve got it figured out now 🙂

          Thanks so much for the info!

          Reply
          • Volle to Prisoners Release to Pendant of Fortune to Shadows of the Father.

            Also there are some random, and good bits, in the anthology series Heat which Kyell Gold, and his cohorts K.M. Hirosaki and Rikoshi, have done some good work in

            and Dog Days of Summer is just so pretty to look at. I mean REALLY pretty.

            I do go on a bit too much.

            Reply

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