About the Book: Violence is hard to escape because of the scars it leaves—on the body, the mind, and the heart.
Small, skinny, and timid, Matt is the school’s punching bag. He suffers in silence and holds no hope anyone will come to his aid. The last thing on his mind is finding someone special. He’s sure it’s impossible, so why bother trying?
Shane is no stranger to pain. At his old school, he broke a football player’s arms for tormenting his friend, and with his size and multiple tattoos, he looks every bit the thug everyone—Matt included—assumes he is.
Building trust isn’t easy, but a sweet yet passionate romance slowly unfolds. Their road isn’t without bumps, but Matt and Shane navigate them together, finding happiness and security in each other—until another act of violence and its aftermath threatens to tear their lives—and their love—apart once and for all. But like the symbols etched into Shane’s skin, some things are made to last.
Dreamspinner Press | May 29, 2017
You know how I’m always preaching about impulsive reads that just don’t work out for me? Symbols is the perfect example. When I requested it I had high hopes, then those hopes tapered down and I started to worry. (I really hate writing bad reviews.) After I read the author’s bio on Goodreads, it was so cute and so clever, it made me excited all over again. Unfortunately that made the fall so much further.
I didn’t like Symbols at all. As evidenced by the synopsis, the story had a lot of promise. I like the idea of the fragile, slightly nerdy, boy falling in love with the guy everyone thinks is a monster. There’s something poetic in that story, but unfortunately the writing style, and the story itself, caused me to not invest in these characters the way I should have.
Not only was the prose far too flowery, but the characters didn’t think or speak in a way that felt realistic. I highlighted two instances, just so you can see what I mean:
1. (In this scene, Shane is protecting Matt from a bully)
“I hope you’re kidding, for if what you say is true I’ll let off a little steam on you and your sidekicks.”
What? ‘for if what you say is true’? I’m not opposed to proper English, but are we really supposed to believe a 19 year old kid speaks this way??
2. (This is a sweet scene between Matt and Shane.)
“I can’t refute that.” This was how Shane wanted to see Matt, sassy and happy, but Matt’s life had to be good as a whole. “Regarding your parents, is there anything I can do to help the situation?”
Again… 19 year old kid. I’ve never heard a 19 year old kid use ‘refute’ and ‘regarding’ in a sentence. This dialogue reads more like 50 year old men talking.
I also struggled with the idea that this book took place in high school, and yet both characters were 18 and 19. I can’t put my finger on exactly what bothered me about it, except perhaps the likelihood of it. I can believe Matt started high school later due to his late birthday, but I find it hard to believe Shane just ‘took a year off’.
Finally, the last thing that tipped the scales for me was the randomness of the plot. If it could happen, it did happen. If it could have been more obvious it probably would have. I don’t want to say too much, because I do try not to write spoilers. I suppose I should just say, if you read a book and you think about the most obvious and most cliched ending to every plot device, you have exactly how I felt about Symbols. I almost quit multiple times.
Honestly, I’m sad. This is only my second 2 star rating on Birdie Bookworm. I swear I want to love everything I read.
Hopefully my next book is a winner.
Thank you to Dreamspinner Press for providing a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.