Broken Boundaries by Evangeline Anderson

Sorry for no other reviews this week. Been slammed in work and life and barely have time to finish “official” reviews let alone extra for my site! Wave over at Reviews by Jessewave asked me to complete a review for a dueling review with two other reviews. Suffice it to say I was worried. Be sure to check out their take on the book here.

Broken Boundaries by Evangeline Anderson

Blurb:

Chaz Brighton is the youngest recruit the Academy has ever seen. God-like reflexes and eyes like a hawk make him a natural gunner and he is assigned to fly a Needle, a sleek silver ship made with technology so advanced it’s still classified. 

On his first day he meets Eric Ferron, the most dangerous man at the Academy. The ice blue eyes and scarred face of the older cadet aren’t enough to scare Chaz. Nor are the rumors that Ferron killed his last partner. But when he finds out that he and Ferron are going to be a team, his anxiety starts to mount.

Now in order to survive at the Academy, Chaz must submit to Ferron’s frighteningly erotic touch. If he doesn’t, his boundaries may get them both killed.  

 

 

Review:

This is a science fiction based story about training young men to be excellent fighter pilots against the possible threat of the return of space aliens called Lobsters that threaten the Earth’s existence. Sound familiar? Well it should, the plot is incredibly similar Ender’s Game except the pilots are forced to be gay. Considering this author is well known for her gay for you stereotypes, she certainly stays true to form with that in this particular twist. There are additional problems from the characters to the themes, to the not so subtle it’s wrong to be gay sentiment woven throughout the story. While there is a heavy yaoi element to the characters and their sexual connection, nothing can make up for the poor plot and uneven writing.

As I’ve said if you’ve read Ender’s Game, you’ll understand the plot of this story except the pilot and gunners have to be naked and having sex to actually be great at flying. Unfortunately whereas the former is a well deserved classic, this particular offering suffers from trying to incorporate too many elements and ultimately being unsuccessful at most. Starting with the plot, which is unoriginal and unimaginative, there is no additional explanation or understanding of the choices the author makes. For example, the implication is given that all the pilots and gunners chosen have latent homosexual desires, which make it possible for these men to engage in the various sexual acts that are deemed necessary for survival and great flying. However, several characters are depicted as never having homosexual desires and simply want to return to Earth to forget their actions. So either every single man chosen is a closet homosexual, which is clearly not true, or these men are all forced to be gay to save the world. Let’s just say that’s not exactly the rationalization that works in a science fiction based romance, neither would it work if it was the opposite and gay men were forced to be straight.

Furthermore the author tries to explain that this connection is acceptable because it happens so rarely, yet this rare connection is debatable as Ferron is paired up with no fewer than at least three partners within the span of this story. Additionally the pairing of Landrews and Sanderson is described several times as lacking any emotional connection and based purely on wanting to succeed within the Military rankings, thus showing that your “match” isn’t necessarily the person you are perfectly matched with in all ways. So again, not only is the necessity to be naked and having sex while flying is never explained but even the weak and transparent explanation offered to soothe the fragile “latent’s” chaotic emotions is ridiculous.

Unfortunately the character of Chaz swallows all of these rationalizations, and other things, while going meekly along with the program. He repeatedly questions his acceptance of the program, how the Needlers are run, the need for actual naked and sexual contact and the need for all men to be gay within the program, yet accepts sweeping blanket statements such as "the more intimately I touch you, the better the connection, and the more effective we are as a team. Make sense." Unfortunately this doesn’t make sense, neither as a plot device nor Chaz’s easy acceptance of such. At the same time he’s struggling with new feelings and exploring the gay for you and only you trope that seems to dominate the book. Chaz only desires Ferron and needs him, but he’s caught up on not being gay and thus can’t give in fully to Ferron.

Putting aside the problematic plot and focusing on the character of Chaz, he clearly shows classic yaoi characteristics with his back and forth desire and fear of actual sex. He practices heavy self denial and uses a pseudo-BDSM rationalization to give up any personal responsibility and accept his actual desires. His sexual encounters with Ferron tend to be heavily yaoi influenced as well with his outward refusal but inwardly wanting the older man to simply make the choice for him. His final acceptance of his sexuality and ability to own up to his feelings is classic, yet unfortunately never worked for me. I can see the yaoi influence for sure so perhaps some fans will enjoy it but even that can’t make up for the uneven writing from corny and porno to actual solid and tight writing.

Additional characters such as the multiple villain counterpoints in this book made the melodrama stretch pretty thin. From the closeted homophobe character of Burns who mocks the Needlers for being "faggots" to the openly hostile character of Landrews that constantly attacks Chaz as "latent" for not being openly and proudly gay; there is no shortage of tension and created conflict for the intrepid and confused hero of the story. Add in the taciturn character of Ferron who offers little in the way of understanding and furthering emotional progression, and it’s little wonder that Chaz has no personal growth at all during the course of the story. If he weren’t forced into a physical homosexual gay situation, Chaz would still happily be with his girlfriend. His change from homophobic to homosexual requires no introspection and emotional growth on his part, merely the domination of another man.

This of course leads to a controversial aspect of the book – the actual rape scene. With the yaoi influence during the sexual encounters, I wasn’t bothered so much by the yes/no flip flopping Chaz was spouting. However, the actual rape scene was not (IMO) a classic yaoi sex scene and furthermore it was simply what it was – a rape. Chaz does not want to be penetrated and Ferron’s weak and ridiculous excuse that it has to be done to save the world from the Lobster Queen in no way had Chaz secretly wanting that sex. Perhaps in another setting between just the two of them when Chaz’s fears were overcome gradually, he probably would have wanted the sex. But to ream the poor man’s ass without benefit of lube to save the world is simply rape and it has no place in this story or a romance.

Neither does the outrageous and corny porno like scene of a "suck off challenge" between Landrews and Sanderson and Ferron and Chaz. Of course Chaz has to prove his homosexuality by seeing which man can bring their partner to orgasm first so both Chaz and Landrews drop to their knees happily in the middle of a crowded lounge and go to town. The purpose of this scene is clearly to progress Chaz faster towards his acceptance of the ultimate necessary sex, yet is frustratingly obvious while being uninteresting to read.

The rape bothered me some as it was unnecessary, but really the worst sin this author did was give a poor plot with unevenly paced writing that went from interesting and descriptive to corny and ridiculous. The weak rationalizations and obvious anti-gay sentiment makes this a failure even considering the yaoi elements. Furthermore the author herself markets this as an m/m romance and nowhere refutes that statement. The characters repeatedly state they are not gay, they’re just "taking care of each other" and are gay for you leaving these tropes as overdone and worn thin within the context of the poorly constructed plot. This was especially unfortunate as the author is clearly talented and creative with hints of strong, descriptive writing. However between the character, plot, and writing problems this book wasn’t enjoyable to read nor did it satisfy as a romance for me.

Get it HERE!

 


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