Double Flip

Title: Double Flip
Author: David Connor
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Amazon
Genre: Contemporary M/M, Humor
Length: Novella (170 pages)
Rating: 1 star out of 5

A Guest Review by jeayci

Review Summary: I think this story might have been interesting if I’d been able to keep track of the POVs, the characters, or even the plot; as it was, the most enjoyment I got was from imagining it as a Mystery Science Theater piece with snarky commentary.

Blurb: Gymnast Ben Thornton is beginning to accept his sexuality, but in the charged atmosphere of the London Olympics, sex is easier to find than the love he seeks. Ben is so desperate to recapture something he felt long ago that he’s too blind to see the man he shared it with is looking for the very same thing, hiding in the shadows with the love notes he’s too afraid to send.

Then a gossipmonger threatens to distribute a sex tape Ben didn’t even know existed. Feeling betrayed, he considers leaving the games, afraid for the team’s morale. As his friends rally around him, Ben discovers they don’t always make good lovers—but a lover you know like your best friend is the best kind.

Review: This was a really difficult review to write. I want to be fair to the author, but I also have to be fair to the prospective readers, and that balance is not always the easiest to achieve. I kept thinking I must be missing something, and if I could only find it I’d at least like the book. But I’m not a stupid reader (or so I like to think!), so if I was missing it – especially after such effort to find it – that’s a fail in itself.

I think the blurb made for somewhat deceptive marketing. Even though it accurately describes what happens, it implies you’re going to get to know Ben, and care about him as he goes through some difficult events and grows up a bit. At least, that’s what I got out of it. Instead, it’s a slapstick-style narrative that bounces all over the place. We spend a lot of time with Ben, but also with pretty much every other person mentioned in the book. That might have worked out great, except that instead of getting to know the characters, it had the unfortunate effect of distancing me from them so much I was unable to care about any of them.

The POV was some weirdo universal omniscient person who wasn’t nearly as punny as he thought he was. Or maybe it was third-person omniscient. Then again, it seemed at times like close third-person with lots of head-hopping. Or maybe it was some of each. The only thing I can say for certain about it was that it was confusing as hell, and made it really difficult to keep track of who was doing what to whom, when. After a while, I stopped trying.

I think the underlying point of this book was, “look at me, I’m so clever and funny!” Except I was never even clear who “me” was, and trying too hard to be funny just doesn’t work for me. My laughter is inspired more by witty banter than over-the-top comedy. Despite the heavy emphasis on the latter, there were a few really good lines; some that made me laugh a lot. I loved Ben’s friend Kat’s metaphor for appreciating men’s bodies, even if, as a lesbian, they don’t turn her on.

“I love men,” Kat began, combing through damp hair, “especially you, naked or otherwise. Look at it this way,” she said, turning from the mirror. “I would never go down on a bouquet of roses for fear of a mouthful of thorns—but still, I think they’re pretty.”

But far more often the narrative ran like this:

KALE OMLET was pissed off! All his informant brought was more gossip. “I’m not paying for shit that is already out there,” the crotchety crap-spewer spewed.

As if that’s not bad enough, there’s an oblique reference to gay as Christmas apparel now we don. No, I’m not making that up! The exact quote is:

Kale Omlet’s readers were packing his inbox regarding Benjamin Thornton’s similarities to Christmas apparel now we don.

There was a really pathetic attempt to have a Ukrainian speak fractured English. I don’t think this sentence reflects the syntax of any language spoken by humans; it’s just a jumbled hodge-podge of words. While I’m guessing at all languages, I can say with certainty that the linguistic errors made by native-Slavic language-speaking people don’t sound anything like this:

“My speaking of the English and to of it understanding some what is people’s saying is no good from being what I can write it for to read.”

There was some attempt at a mystery, with hints dropped and coy misdirection. There was apparently more than one leaked sex tape featuring Ben and another guy. I think we were supposed to wonder, or try to figure out, who these mystery people were. I didn’t try. I didn’t care. I was too confused by all the attempts at clever narrative (Christmas apparel! Really?) and gazillions of people to even want to try to keep track.

For those who care about cheating, there is some in this book. I’m pretty sure, anyway. Like I said, it was really difficult to keep track of who was doing what to whom, or what promises had or hadn’t been made previously. Some of those cheated on or with were female, for those who care about that. Lots of people had lots of sex, usually inappropriately. I thought about calling it PWP, but that implies there was porn and no plot, neither of which are true. None of the sex was sexy from this reader’s perspective; it was just confusing and/or boring. And I think there was a plot, I just had difficulty keeping track of it. So this definitely isn’t PWP. I don’t think there was a HEA, though there might have been. Sort of. So it wasn’t really a romance, either. It was mostly lots of twenty-somethings hopping in and out of each others’ beds, which is realistic enough but not terribly romantic; nor was it particularly sexy.

You might notice I haven’t mentioned sports, despite this apparently being a sports book. That’s because sports were almost entirely incidental to the story. It somewhat helped in keeping track of the characters to know this one was a diver and that one an ice dancer, but mostly it just provided a backdrop. And, of course, the occasional reference to how bendy someone must be, wink wink, nudge nudge.

What I think it boils down to is that this style of book doesn’t tickle my funny bone and the narrative style didn’t work for me at all. Perhaps others will love it for all the reasons I disliked it. This could be one of those books that readers either love or hate.

I think this book had potential, but it needed some rigorous editing to have any chance of achieving it. None of the characters felt real enough to be sympathetic or believable. I can’t recommend this unless you’re looking for a Mystery Science Theater sort of story, or maybe a drinking game. I think this is a fairly new author (with the exception of a short story in an anthology, Double Flip appears to be his first professionally published fiction), so I would be willing to read another book by him to see if the potential has been developed. However, I’d wait for some good reviews first.

10 comments

  • This book was on my radar, but not yet on my Want List… and for good reason, apparently. There was one review on Amazon- a 5 star review- but I never really trust those because they rarely match my own read of a book.

    Thanks for the well thought out review, and thereby saving me from throwing my Kindle across the room in frustration after another disappointing read! 🙂

    • I’m glad I could spare your Kindle! 😮 I’m always skeptical of Amazon reviews myself, though there are some really helpful ones there too. 🙂

  • Actually, Andy, the sequel is “Quadruple Flip”–another skating jump. Email me and I’ll send you a copy as its chances of being published have probably diminished significamtly as of late. 😀 LOL

    Thanks for the kind words. I loved those stories too and wrote some. We’re not suprised by that, are we?

    “Keep it simple stupid”, the old writers’ mantra next time? Hoping for at least a couple more stars for whatever comes next. 🙂

    Loving the Jessewave site.

    Forever probably deemed tacky for commenting on my own review, best to all!

    • David, there’s no problem commenting on your own review when your comment is not at attack. 🙂 At least, I have no problem with it, and I appreciate the humor and grace with which you accepted a one-star review. :bravo: I know it can’t be easy!

      I really thought your book had potential that was failed by insufficient editing (and the blurb didn’t help any). I was hiking with a friend yetersday and told him about it. He doesn’t read romances, but he loved the line about the roses as much as I do, and questioned how a book with that line could be a one-star. So then I told him about the Christmas apparel and Ukrainian. He winced and agreed it was a shame it hadn’t gotten better editing. :doh:

      Get a good editor, and I bet your next book will be fantastic. :skoal:

  • I was actually looking forward to the sequel “Triple Axel” set at the winter games. Triplets instead of twins, one named Axel… Maybe he’ll write it. (Now I get 10 percent if he does.)

    Then again I used to love those pointless, dirty, formulaic stories in the back of porn magazines and I laugh out loud at Adam Sandler movies (And at parts of this book) so you can’t go by me.

    • Andy, that book sounds like it has potential, I hope he’ll write it. 😀

      I laughed at parts of this book too, just fewer than more, unfortunately. I’m glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  • This was on my “to buy” list but I’m going to remove it after reading your review. It sounds like that money could be spent on much better books. Thanks!!

    • If the bits I quoted didn’t make you eagerly reach for your wallet, than yeah, chances are your money is probably better spent elsewhere. 🙂

  • Oh wow Jeayci. I can totally see how this was a hard review to write. I think you did an admirable job. Oh and I *do* speak Ukrainian and Russian. And that sentence? No to both. Head hopping gives me a headache and I can only wonder about the editing.

    • Thanks Sirius! 🙂 I don’t think this book is for you at all, but with better editing it might have been. I read – and love – a lot of Dreamspinner books, even with the complaints (many of which I share) about mis-marketing or lack of editing. But I think this stands out as the most egregious I’ve noticed from them, as it fails on both counts and had so much potential that simply wasn’t realized. :grumble: :wallbash:

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