Title: Life in a Nowhere Town (Sing Out #1)
Author: Hanna Dare
Release Date: January 27, 2016
Page Count: 124
Reviewed by: Vallie
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
First kiss, first heartbreak, first love, first time… but not necessarily in that order.
The hit reality show, Singing Sensation, promises to make its winners big stars – but all Conor Gillis wants is to get out of his small town. It’s not the sort of place where a quiet, eighteen-year-old who loves the Beatles and playing guitar can expect to fit in.
Conor’s also pretty sure he’s the only gay person in town.
Well, except for one other person…
Derek Folsom is the kind of bad influence parents warn you about. He’s tough, rough, and always looking for a fight. He’s the last person anyone would suspect of being gay, in fact he’s likely to punch anyone who does suspect it. So why is he suddenly so interested in Conor?
Conor’s pinning all his hopes on auditioning for a TV show. It’s his only chance to realize his dreams, and escape all of these confusing feelings. But will he be able to find his voice… and his true self?
This story is about Connor Gillis, a senior in a high school who dreams of leaving his bumfuck nowhere town and having a career in music. He isn’t a popular kid at school and his only friends are Megan and Ali. Of course, there’s the local bully, Derek, who has it out for everyone, really, but especially Connor.
The story flow is a little choppy. There are different parts that make up the puzzle but the transition isn’t very smooth. There’s Connor’s audition to the Singing Sensation competition, his relationship with his dad, his budding relationship with Derek, and his friendship with the girls. All of these things are explored, some more than others, but there’s a gap in between, as if the author didn’t fill in the blanks when one part of the story took off.
I wouldn’t particularly call it a romance. Derek asks Connor to tutor him and they begin a sexual relationship but there’s no mention of feelings until about 80%. Even then, it’s jealousy and anger that they express, but there’s no real intimacy between them. Derek even refuses to accept he’s gay or even bi for the majority of the book.
It ends in a cliff-hanger but there will be follow-up books about Connor and his new life in LA, with an author’s note implying Derek and Connor’s relationship will probably take off in the next instalment. I might pick that one up, just to see if where the story will go.
Something that bothered me stylistically: This is a relatively short book and the author chose to include so many parenthetical phrases that it was distracting. It soon became annoying. I made a note of at least 20 sentences of various lengths in parentheses while I was reading. Also, there were editing issues. This is a self-published book so it’s understandable that there would be some things that were missed without editorial input but still. I hope the author pursues that in the following books because the story overall wasn’t bad at all and I think it would be a lot better after a few rounds of editing.
Pet-peeves aside, I mostly enjoyed reading this. There were some heartfelt moments and a promise for more. It’s not a totally smooth ride and there are editing issues, but I’m optimistic the story will be a bit smoother in future instalments. If those pet-peeves don’t bother you, it’s a nice read to pass the time with.