by Timothy Carter
Reading level: YA
When Stuart Bradley, a gay teenager living in a conservative Christian town in rural Ontario, is caught masturbating in the shower by his little brother, it's only the beginning of his troubles. Soon, the whole town has gone crazy, hunting down and punishing anyone they consider guilty of the sin of "spilling".
What the townsfolk don't realize, however, is that they are being influenced by a fallen angel with an agenda. Stuart enlists the help of a Dachshund-sized demon named Fon Pyre to help get rid of the angel... but things rapidly go from bad to worse. It's up to Stu to save his town before all hell breaks loose.
Yeah, yeah, I know... Why on earth would I read this? I'd heard it was funny, that's why. And maybe it is... if you're a 10-year-old boy.
The plot actually had promise. Some fairly heavy themes were touched on, and the events unfolded rapidly enough to hold a reader's interest. But it just wasn't enough.
Stuart is a fairly bland, one-dimensional sort of fellow whose only distinguishing characteristic is that he's gay. And gay guys must be fairly hard to come by in the town of Ice Lake, because the pickings for love interests were slim. I just did not buy the attraction between Stuart and Chester... especially after Stuart had basically spent the entire novel insinuating that Chester was about as smart as a bag of rocks. The rest of the characters were not much better. The town seems to be populated by characters from bad 1950s public service announcements with names like Cindy and Chester and Jane. And those were supposedly the teenagers.
But what I really didn't like about this book was the writing. It tries to be funny, but comes across as puerile and crude... while also ending up somewhat preachy. I have no idea how the author managed that, but in any case, it does not work. The word "spilling" is used endlessly, and it quickly gets tiresome. The characters were constantly using the "universal hand gestures" for masturbation (what is this, a village of pubescent boys?) and homosexuality and, to be honest, I'm still not exactly sure what those are. Guess I'm not the audience.
There were also some continuity problems (such as Stu referring to his house as the one he'd grown up in... even though he'd only moved there two years previously) and some questionable punctuation. Overall, I wasn't impressed.
While the premise had some merit, it just wasn't done well enough for me to recommend this book to anyone. The characters' ages and subject matter make it more appropriate for teens... but the writing style and overly repetitive and juvenile references would probably only amuse younger boys. Give this one a pass.
Overall: 2.14 out of 5