Author: Suki Fleet
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: February 8th, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary, New Adult, Angst
Page Count: 274
Reviewed by: PrinCkhera
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 5+ stars out of 5
When Dashiel’s body is found dumped on an East London wasteland, his best friend Danny sets out to find the killer. But Danny finds interaction difficult and must keep his world small in order to survive. By day he lives in an abandoned swimming pool and fixes electrical devices to trade for supplies, but by night, alone, he hunts sharks—a reckless search for dangerous men who prey on the vulnerable.
A chance meeting with an American boy selling himself on the streets throws this lonely existence into disarray. Micky is troubled, fragile, and Danny feels a desperate need to protect him—from what, he doesn’t know. As Danny discovers more about Micky, he realizes that what Micky needs saving from is the one thing Danny can’t help him fight against.
To save Micky, Danny must risk expanding his world and face something that scares him more than any shark ever could: trusting he will be accepted for who he is. If a freezing winter on the streets, a sadistic doctor, and three thousand miles don’t tear them apart first, that is.
2016 Rainbow Award Winner – Best Gay Young Adult
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Let me start off by saying that sometimes you read a book that leaves you speechless.
Not because there isn’t a lot you can say about them, but because you don’t know where to start and how to possibly give them the justice they deserve.
Foxes is one of those books.
There is so much I could say, but words eluded me when I thought about what to write.
Do I talk about the story? Danny? Micky? Finding oneself? Losing yourself? Finding your other half?
“I don’t want my heart to feel like broken glass anymore. Caring about someone is too terrifying”
There’s so much there, and overarching it all is how Danny deals with his grief – by losing the most important person his life – and moving on from that.
Overwhelming would be a good word to describe this book though.
It took me days before I just forced myself to start reading this book. Then it took me days to finish it and even longer to write this review (which is also why this is the longest review I have written so far).
I don’t want to wax lyrically about this book and run the risk of overselling. But, I don’t think it’s possible to oversell. You know what you’re getting into when you read Ms. Fleet’s work. Fleet usually equals –> angst, heavy, intense, amazing writing.
Which is why – even though I’ve wanted to read this story, and I received it, I couldn’t get myself to actually read it. It’s like I knew I was going to fall, and fall hard, and my self-preservation kicked in.
But, because I had a review to write and very little time to actually read. I started. Honestly, I needed that push, I still took breaks though.
Because I didn’t know whether I could handle it and because I needed breaks in-between to get some semblance of control over my life, my mind back. I needed to breathe, to think, to wonder about what would happen next.
I needed that time to process.
It’s happened before, but Ms. Fleet still strikes me with her writing. I have over a hundred highlights which could perhaps all add up to at least half the book, passages I read over and over again because reading once was not enough. If I try to numerate the amount of highlights I made in this book, if I try to put them all here – then I would be presenting you basically 60% of her book.
There were so many moments I just went wow.
So many moments that all added up, that made me feel for Danny more.
These passages that made me stop, think, read and re-read and re-read again. Words that I wonder, how? what? Wow.
I read, and read again.
I wish I was like Danny.
Trust me, the thoughts in my mind – the daily stress, the deadlines of school and everything in-between in RL – aren’t prose. They’re ramblings. They’re a mess. They serve no purpose except if it was one of confusion and they are my own.
What Danny does with his thoughts is fucking poetry.
But I can’t even begin to comprehend what it’s like to have lived the life that Danny has lived. To have gone through what he has and still be able to become the person he’s become. I would be bitter, enraged at the world… Perhaps I would have just given up. You need so much strength to be able to survive, and when I say that Danny is strong – it’s not enough. At all.
Present tense. I have to say I am not a fan. I have seen it utilised badly and it pushes my hackles. Miss Fleet uses the present tense, but I didn’t even notice for the first few pages – I was that struck by her writing.
It’s basically present tense done right. Because not once did I come across terrible phrases like: “I am walking now. I am looking at him. He is very pretty. Uh-oh, maybe I shouldn’t look at him anymore because it’s making things stir when they shouldn’t be stirring… You know, down there.” That, but even worse. (I’ve honestly been traumatised by a certain present tense book, so Ms. Fleet has basically given me hope that not all books are like that)
For that I am so grateful.
I understand why Ms. Fleet said Danny was very likely her favourite character
I like fixing stuff because I discovered I could bring something broken back to life.
I honestly cannot for the life of me remember the last time a character had such an effect on me
“How do you do it?” he whispers, his voice rough. “Look at you. You have nothing. You live our here and you’re… buying flowers for someone. How can someone want you?”
“They don’t”, I say honestly. Right now everything but the truth has been stripped away. “The flowers are to make someone I like smile”.
My heart trips over itself, a scarred, cracked thing so sure it had found its echoing beat.
Was he flawed? Yes, he didn’t hide from himself even though he hid from the outside world. But, it wasn’t the flaws he told himself he had – after years and years hearing other people tell him he had those flaws – but the kind that makes someone human. He tried to hide because of the way he’d been treated his whole life.
Kick someone while they’re down long enough and they’ll give up. That’s what had happened to Danny. And you don’t know what’s happened to Danny, not really.
You get clues, but it’s like a puzzle piece. You need them all to see what you’re making. Ms. Fleet disperses them throughout the book, but it isn’t until the end you get an idea of what Danny went through.
I’ve got this far in life, and I still don’t know how to deal with worry. Part of me wants to take off, to run, search and find, and the other part of me want to stop, to be absolutely still and halt time, to hold my breath and curl up. These feelings twist and pull at one another inside me. Before Dashiel I never felt so deeply. Before I lost Dashiel, I didn’t know such a terrifying depth of feeling was there inside me.
We slowly (but surely) get to know Danny. Step by excruciating step, we feel for him. We get angry at the injustice of it all. We feel joy from his happiness. If anything, he fucking deserves his happy ending.
This book is about grieving and how to deal with losing someone that made life brighter and more bearable.
Grief is shocking, but sometimes it makes you feel so numb and cold, you could be made of ice. When the ice breaks, it never gives you any warning.
This book is about how you move past that, how to get closure and find purpose regardless. How there would be guilt, this feeling you’re forgetting this important person by letting someone else in. There’s loss. God! There’s loss. But there’re gains as well.
Dashiel deserved a fucking beautiful life. He was the first person I’d let close to me in as long as I can remember. He made my world a little bigger. Showed me it’s okay to be a bit weird. Showed me someone could love me exactly the way I am”
Shark-hunting is his way of dealing with losing the most important person in his life. I worried about him, worried he was going to get himself killed in the process, worried he’d spiral downwards obsessing over the sharks, worried to what extent shark-hunting would help him deal with Dashiel’s death.
“Before he went, he told me that what I needed to do was keep breathing, keep moving, keep eating. IN that order. And I needed to find a way to let Dashiel go. Well, I’m going to do the first three, but that last isn’t ever going to happen”
The sharks that prey on the weak.
The description of these youths’ dire realities pissed me off at the world. At these fucking sharks that take advantage of this. At the fucking Dollman.
I think I might like to meet some ghosts. The dead aren’t scary. It’s the living who do the terrifying things.
And then there’s Danny. Swimming with sharks.
“I wish I could watch all the sharks who circle these streets. I wish I could destroy them. But I can’t. I can’t.”
He just. There’s so much good in him, and how he’s treated, how he sees himself made me want to beat the crap out of every single person who’d ever hurt him, called him names – made his self-confidence non-existent and that the world wouldn’t accept him a reality he’d come to terms with.
“Dieter’s words come back to haunt me: Why don’t you give up? I didn’t really have an answer for him. I still don’t. If I gave up, all this hurt would go away. Yet I keep going, keep climbing through the days, never looking back… except I know why Dieter said what he did; I know how everyone sees me. No one is every going to love what they seen when they look at me.”
I need to stop pretending it’s how I look that’s stopping me from doing things, from knowing things. I need to accept it’s because I’m scared that what I am is not enough, what I have to offer is not as much as everyone else does.
You feel protective of Danny. Then you see how strong he actually is.
I wonder if he now hates me more or less than before. Not that it matters. There are always going to be people out there who hate you, no matter what you do. What’s the point in wasting energy on them?
But you still want to be there for him because he deserves so much more. And thank God there are people in his life who see that. Who look past the scars and see what an absolutely amazing person they have in front of them. First, it was Dashiel, then it was Micky and a whole litany of other characters you grow to love and care for in their own way.
The moment Micky enters his life.
“He makes my heart beat faster. I blink that thought away quickly. Except it’s not a thought… it’s a fact. I will not put that in my notepad, but I just know I’ll think it every time I look at my notes. Every time I picture his face. Now I’m blushing. Fuck. I wish I wasn’t having this reaction. Who your brain decides your heart will somersault for seems to be completely fucking random.
Hey Micky, you’re so fine. You’re so fine you blow my mind. Hey Micky! Hey, hey, hey Micky!
There’s so much here. There’s so little words can do to possibly express what this book, what Danny bring out of you. What Micky brings out of Danny. How he turns Danny’s life around, helps him move on, and gives Danny so much more.
“I notice one corner of his mouth turns up slightly more than the other, making him about a thousand times more perfect for having this single stupid flaw”
“Can’t lifetimes be measured in heartbeats? The faster a heart goes, the less time you have? Maybe Micky is bad for my health. I’ve probably knocked a few years off my life in the past half hour just by being with him. Strangely enough, I don’t think I want them back.”
By entering Danny’s life, Micky brings with him the possibility of moving on. By thinking about Micky, dealing with things that happened because of Micky, Danny can’t go shark-hunting every night. Because of the reprieve Micky offers from his despair, Danny starts to have more to his life than this one goal – that once accomplished would perhaps not have been the answer to him finding closure.
Fragile things, every single one of them. Lives are so terrifyingly easy to break. And yet, I love every single second. If I didn’t love it, it wouldn’t hurt so much. If it wasn’t so good, I wouldn’t be so terrified of losing it.
I wholeheartedly recommend reading this.
It’s intense. It’s difficult. But there are surprisingly a small number of books out there that can really make you stop, and just be.
It’s not for the faint of heart.
You need to understand that her stories can venture (will venture) into dark territory, but it’s the kind with a purpose.
“Safety and warmth. What else do people need? Maybe a little food, clean water. You’ve got to accept what you’ve got sometimes, I think. There is a limit, isn’t there? And for a little while, I was happy. With Dashiel, I was happy. I can hold on to that.”
You see the very deep lows, so that when the highs come you are that much more elated by them. She makes you question though whether there will even be a high. Whether Danny would get his HFN, because happy as though it might be… Someone who’s used to living day-to-day knows better than to hope it’ll be forever. Then again, the trials that he and Micky go through. To still find happiness after it all.
As is clear you get to know her characters and are completely drawn in. Every character you come across gets their own story, they play their own role.
I can tell you lots of things.
I can tell you that this book will likely shred your heart and piece it back together
“If I had a single wish right now, it would be for someone to hold on to, or for someone to hold on to me. Not because they feel obliged to, or because they have to, but because they want to, because they want me. Like I want Micky. I squeeze my eyes shut. It’s a stupid wish, I know.”
I can tell you that it’ll give you some perspective back on life, on what you have.
“And even though I didn’t know him at all, I’ll miss him. Maybe I always will. Maybe I will miss everyone I’ve ever felt close to, everyone I’ve ever known – even if I know them still, I’ll miss them, miss each moment as it passes. Because moments all we every have and they never come back.”
I can tell you that it was certainly not an amusing or fun read.
Those words shouldn’t even be associated with this book, and anyone telling you otherwise either didn’t properly read it or doesn’t actually know what those words mean.
It’s heartbreaking, devastating yet completely wonderful. Words cannot possibly convey everything this story brings up.
There is no way I can stop what I’m feeling, no going back from this, no shield in the entirety of the universe that can protect a heart from love.
Therefore this review, my feeble attempt at trying to convey this story as it is, used an abundance of quotes because perhaps reading Ms. Fleet’s words – rather than my own – would ignite some idea of what I’m talking about.
It’s been so long since I could give a book 5 stars and wish there were more to give.
It’s so easy to take life away, so much harder to live it, to make it big and bright and full of wonder.
Both Danny and Micky need each other. They want, love, and need each other. This book, set in the dark belly of London looked at all the pain, heartbreak and horribleness associated with youth in our current society who don’t have a place to be and have to resort to selling themselves, letting themselves be prey to the sharks out there in order to survive. Some don’t and give up. Some try to survive with everything they’ve got. Some get out (though it’s by far not enough). This book really made you think about a topic you don’t usually think about. And even though it’s dark, it does represent a part of society we tend to ignore. Therefore, reading this book, won’t just be for the hell of it. It’s so much more than that, and if you need that push to start this book? Let this review be that push for you. Because, trust me when I say that this journey will be worth every single excruciating step, and leave you a better person for it at the end of the road.
“We hold eye contact until I start to feel dizzy from lack of oxygen. It’s so terrifyingly tender that my chest hurts. For the first time in my life, it’s as if someone sees me fully , seeing me and accepting everything that I am, inside and out. And I see him to – this scared sweet boy, so vulnerable and emotionally wide open, who finds the world mostly terrifying but occasionally wonderful.”
Oh, and if you do start reading Foxes:
Tips on surviving Fleet
- be in a place you are comfortable and feel safe
- don’t read it on your own – read it with someone if you can
- take breaks and read something else in-between or just hang out with friends (even do your homework or those chores you’ve been putting off) to get your mind off of Danny and Micky, as well as Dashiel and the injustice of it all
- of course, you would feel the need to keep on reading and not stop till you’re done but you will be emotionally exhausted
- most of us don’t want to crawl into this hole we won’t be able to get ourselves out of – this book will push you there
- most of us can’t handle the rollercoaster of emotions all at once that Danny and his story will bring out of them
I did most of these. My daily life schedule made it easier to detach myself, to temporarily not think about Foxes and Danny. Temporary, of course, being the operative word. But, it really helped. So, I hope they are of some use to you if you decide to give it a shot.
Award Winning Author. Prolific Reader (though less prolific than she’d like). Lover of angst, romance and unexpected love stories.
Suki Fleet writes lyrical stories about memorable characters, and believes everyone should have a chance at a happy ending.
Her first novel This is Not a Love Story won Best Gay Debut in the 2014 Rainbow Awards, and was a finalist in the 2015 Lambda Awards.Facebook tumblr Twitter Website Goodreads eMail Instagram More Reviews