Saturday, 1 February 2014
Review: Something Like Spring by Jay Bell
I've been very much looking forward to this fourth and final book in the Seasons series. The other three books took the same story and looked at it from three different characters' point of view and I wondered how this book was going to be structured since there wasn't a fourth character who could take on another narrative. Instead the author has rather cleverly taken a separate character, Jason, and used him to link with the other three characters, taking us from the time just after Jace's first blood clot and into the future with Ben and Tim. Jason is a 15 year old boy who has been bounced around in foster care since he was 7. He never stays in a family for long because he deliberately sabotages his placement. His social worker is Michelle, Jace's sister, and this time he promises Michelle that he will make a good go of the new family he is placed with. It's tough at first, but Jason tries to get along with the new family for one reason, the eldest son of the family, Caesar, who Jason develops a huge crush on. We follow Jason through the next few years as he falls in love and marks out a future for himself with the help of good friends.
Like the other books in this series, this story contains the themes of growing up, falling in love, making mistakes and learning to become an adult. The main story centres around romance, but it's so much more than that. It's also about making choices about who you want to be with and finding a family who will accept you for who you are. Jason isn't perfect and I have to admit at times he is very immature - just like a 15/16 year old boy should be! He is desperate for affection and confused, hurting from the past but fiercely independent. I liked him very much, liked that he was flawed and did stupid things at times, that he took risks because underneath it all he was a good, kind person who just needed a big hug and some stability. As the story develops, Jason changes until by the end he is more mature and happy. He's still independent and stubborn but he has learned how to compromise instead of running away and hiding, and that makes him a better person.
This isn't just Jason's story. It's also an opportunity to see the future for Ben and Tim. They come into the book part way through and we see their relationship through Jason's eyes. Ben is his usual sweet self and Tim is working through some issues and it was nice to see that their relationship is still evolving. There were a couple of poignant conversations between Ben and Jason about Ben's feelings about Jace which helped to sort out some of my feelings about how the first book in the series ended. Tim also has to face his past, as well as resolve some problems with Jace's family. I liked that their relationship wasn't this perfect ideal, but just two guys with a mixed history who love each other but still have the occasional difficulty. Just like real life! The book ends on a high note which was a little sappy but had a huge awwwww factor. It was a fitting end to Ben and Tim's journey and I'm happy to leave them to their HEA now.
I haven't said much about the romantic plot mainly because I don't want to give away spoilers. Let me just say that Jason's love life is not all plain sailing but it definitely has its high points. One thing I love about this author is how much he seems to be able to understand the mind of a teenage boy with all the confusion that comes with hormones. I like that he doesn't shy away from the fact that teenagers have sex, although the descriptions are vague and concentrate on emotion rather than mechanics. If 16 year olds having consensual sex on page offends you, then this probably isn't the book for you. I saw it as a necessary part of Jason's journey and it didn't bother me at all. As for the romantic interest in Jason's life, my lips are sealed :). All I'm going to say is that they weren't as well rounded in terms of characterisation as Jason, but that was more to do with the fact that our focus is mainly of Jason and so the other character is seen through slightly idealised eyes at times. Having said that, the flaws of the other character do come through eventually and so this is only a minor criticism.
On the whole, I love this author's books and his fluid written style. This means I was quite forgiving of some of the books' faults, such as the idealisation of characters as I mentioned above, because I was enjoying myself too much. My main niggle was that the book was a little overindulgent at times with some scenes that didn't really further the plot and so could have been cut from the book. One scene in particular where Jason and another character visit an art gallery was a pleasant enough scene but when it had finished I wondered what the point had been. None, apparently, just another opportunity to see the two characters together. The book is a decent length and cutting one or two scenes would have made the plotting a little tighter.
Having said that, this was still a terrific read. I liked that although this was Jason's book, there was still an ensemble theme with a mix of well loved and new characters. It fleshed out the world away from the fairly tight circle of the previous books. I was also pleased to discover that the author intends to continue writing within this community of characters, not Ben, Tim and Jason, but other secondary characters who need some loving in their lives. I shall look forward to those books. As for this book, if you are following this series then this is a must-read which I would recommend with a grade of 'Excellent'. If you like YA romance and haven't read any of these books then this is probably not the place to start. I would suggest starting with Something Like Summer and working your way through to this book. You're in for a treat!
Buy this book HERE.