As I mentioned before, Strain went up on NetGalley last week, and a couple early reviews have been posted to Goodreads, and they’ve been quite gratifying on a couple levels.
Ashley Williams of http://booknerdash.blogspot.com/ had this to say:
And though the theme of the book revolved around sex as a treatment for the disease (yes I did say sex was the cure!!!), it wasn’t, for me, the forefront of the book. It kept me flipping the pages the whole time.
I loved the post-apocalypse-zombie-ish setting that Gormley creates. You can visualize where you are, without getting bored by all the details. Speaking of details, she does an excellent job explaining the medical necessities behind the unorthodox treatment. They were actually believable!
That one does my heart a lot of good. When dealing with a book based on a fuck-or-die trope, there’s a significant danger that the fuck-or-die situation will come off as nothing more than an excuse to propel the characters into sex they normally wouldn’t have. This isn’t an unfair estimation, to be honest. In a lot of places–especially in fanfic circles dealing with slash and non-canon OTPs–the fuck-or-die trope is used for precisely that reason. I wanted to come at it from a different angle, though. I wanted to make the story not just about situationally-coerced sex, but about the desperate lengths people will go to in order to survive, and about the conflict a character might face when the thing that is saving his body from death is killing his spirit and soul. I wanted to examine the uneven power dynamics inherent in a situation where one character is reliant on another for their very survival, and explore just what is considered “unpardonable” when someone does horrible things in order to save someone else’s life.
Which made it doubly gratifying to read this review from Sue/DavinciKittie at http://gravetells.com:
Even though this story features a lot of sex, it’s not ABOUT sex or even about a D/s lifestyle. It’s about fighting for survival and the life-affirming connections you make with the people you trust to have your back. It’s about brotherhood and love and making the best out of a hard life, and it is haunting… absolutely beautiful. The emotional depth is so tangible, Strain is both heartwarming and endearingly painful, from vivid adrenaline-packed start to aching, bittersweet ending. Definitely a must read for fans of male/male romance!
Yes. Thank you, God. People are getting what I was trying to do and not assuming the “plot” is just a sex vehicle, which would be very easy to do at first blush.
So, yeah, I’m really thrilled with these two reviews, and I hope other readers and reviewers continue to get what I was trying to accomplish with this book. I am sure it won’t work for some people, that they will dismiss it as just being an excuse to get the characters into bed, but it’s nice to see that some people are looking past that at the deeper themes.