Release Date: October 21, 2013
Published by Dreamspinner Press
Review Copy from NetGalley
Sometimes when I’m reviewing, the very best books leave me wondering where to begin – this is one of those books. It’s intense, it’s complex, it’s…so many things. This whole review may come out sounding like unintelligible nonsense, but I’ll try my best. At the end, just know that Bad Idea is FANTASTIC.
Damon Suede masterfully constructs two major story lines in tandem: first there’s Trip’s career and all that goes with it, second there’s the romance between Silas and Trip. At the outset I expected Trip’s professional involvement to just be background information, a place for him to go when he’s not with Silas. That’s definitely not the case. In fact, Trip’s career largely focuses on the development of a new comic/character Scratch, the “horny bastard” sex demon, and it becomes so pivotal that I could almost believe the romance was secondary. Suede intertwines the two in a way that one almost chokes the life out of the other – almost. I mean that in the good way – the one where they merge and it becomes a roller coaster ride leaving you breathless and screaming for more. Sounds sadistic, I know, but I promise you it delivers on every front.
Let’s talk a little about the romance. I can’t say enough how much I love Trip and Silas as a couple. As a reader it’s really gratifying when you see two characters that together re greater than the sum of their parts. I mean, HOLY COW, it’s intense but so worth it. Trip is pretty neurotic, wildly successful but neurotic. Luckily he has a great support system, but mostly he’s trapped in the same vicious cycle by his own hopes & fears. A chance encounter with Silas at the Unbored zombie run throws him a curveball. I wasn’t sure Silas would have it together enough to really be what Trip needed, but as Suede carefully reveals all their hidden secrets and flaws, it’s like magic. That’s how falling in love should be – like finding someone who feels like an extension of yourself or makes you a better version of you. They’re comfortable like old shoes and they fit, even if you can’t figure out how or why. So many people tell Silas he makes them braver, and it’s true. Trip would never have grown without his love, and he certainly wouldn’t be strong enough to take control the way he does to resolve his own conflicts. Besides Silas is ready for more; one of my favorite quotes about him illustrates just that:
“He wanted a real kiss at midnight from a future who didn’t feel like his past. Fucking fool.”
When the black moment hits – I’m not going to lie – it’s pretty devastating. I ached for Silas, totally ACHED. It’s a sign of great writing when I feel like I want to strangle one of the characters. Maybe that’s harsh, but if you’re not emotionally invested in a story it doesn’t elicit that type of reaction. Thank you, Damon Suede, for giving me a gut wrenching reason to keep reading. Also for possibly being the reason I gained 10 lbs from stress eating, but whatever. I’ll work it off eventually.
In a lot of books I find a secondary character that I love, and in Bad Idea it’s Max, Jillian and Ben’s son. He’s quirky, smart and just a really neat kid. His tête-à-têtes with Trip seem to help unlock the mysteries to solving adult problems with his simple, childlike reasoning. Grown-ups overthink things – it’d be nice to go back and view the world through an unclouded lens. I especially love the part where they’re discussing Venom; that little exchange seems to cause some introspection for Trip. I think even he’s surprised by what he can learn from Max.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Scratch – he’s such a major part of this book. The really cool thing is that he does have his own story, the previously released Horn Gate. So in a sense Bad Idea is a book about a guy who writes a book that happens to be a real book. That’s not the only thing that’s real either – I love how many real people, places and events are referenced, including Horn Gate‘s cover artist, Rey Arzeno. I was also impressed by Suede’s knowledge of comics. I can’t imagine the amount of time and research necessary to incorporate that level of detail about the industry and its products. Absolutely amazing.