So, I’m working my way through TJ Klune’s entire bibliography because he’s bloody brilliant. So far, I’ve 5-starred every Klune book I’ve read. Unfortunately I can’t do that with Bear, Otter, and the Kid.
This read was captivating, it truly was. But I guess the other Klune-books I’ve read have spoiled me and given me unrealistically high expectations. Because there were unfortunately too many things bringing this story down in my eyes. Also, it was a veritable angst-fest.
Synopsis: This is a story of an oblivious, bi (or completely gay? It’s a bit unclear) young man – Bear – whose mom left him to raise his 6-year old brother on his own when Bear was only 17. Oliver, or Otter in this story, is the gay big brother of Bear’s best friend.
And you see where this is going…
Bear is doing his damndest to provide for his brother Tyson while at the same time struggling to make sense of his feeling towards Otter. Otter knows what he wants though, but Bear is being stupidly slow on the uptake.
There’s no question this is a great story. It’s heart-felt and engaging and of course I got super invested in the characters. I loved how Bear and Otter were when together, it made me all soft and gooey inside. And Otter’s parenting of his little brother really pulled at my heart-strings. In fact, it’s so good that I didn’t even mind the recurring flashbacks to Bear’s childhood or all of the chapters starting with dramatics and then going on crazy, irrelevant tangents before coming back to the topic at hand.
But, despite all that, I really couldn’t handle all the teary drama.
Bear’s less than smart behaviour didn’t help matters either. I think that’s probably what bugged me the most about this read. Everyone is allowed to do stupid shit, and perfect characters are too boring to bother with, but oh my god was Bear slow! It was like a never ending spiral of mistakes where he’s ruining for himself more and more and just alienates everyone around him. It was so very frustrating and so very angsty. It was downright depressing to be honest.
Now, as a heterosexual woman, I can’t claim to know the first thing about being a young, gay man living in denial. However, what I can say is that the portrayal of Bear’s constant back and forth, his inner monologue denying his feelings, the back-pedalling after each and every “gay” thought he has, it was annoying as hell. It was like that almost the entire book and it was beyond exhausting.
Thank fuck for Otter being more mature at least.
Then there’s the Kid. I really liked him at first. But as the story progressed, he became a little too much. Sure, he’s precocious, extremely intelligent and unnaturally perceptive. Such kids exist. They’re rare but it’s not unheard of. But then he kept getting more and more eloquent. He was a 9-year old mix of a philosopher and a therapist with an encyclopedic vocabulary. About halfway through the book, Tyson stopped being cute and started to seriously creep me out.
The eloquence of the characters in general were striking – and very unrealistic. Even though Bear did a lot of stammering, his inner voice was extremely good at expressing himself. There were simply so many long-winded – admittedly also very deep and heart-felt – monologues in this read that it distracted, and frankly ruined, the story.
And I missed the humour which I view as somewhat of a Klune trademark. That very inappropriate and slightly juvenile humour that is right up my alley, it was completely missing from this book. All that was left was angst.
So, even though the story was intriguing, I had expected more. And laughs, I had counted on lots of laughs and didn’t get any.
Wow, when re-reading my review it sounds like an awful book. It isn’t though, not at all. It’s mostly my disappointment talking, I think. And my low tolerance for long-winded, flowery speeches and repeated stupidity. So, granted, it’s not a 5-star in my eyes, but it is well above a 4.