Neg UB2 by Rick Reed

Neg UB2 by Rick Reed

Blurb:

The sequel to Amber Allure’s Best-Seller VGL Male Seeks Same


Poor Ethan Schwartz. He’s just had the most shocking news a gay man can get—he’s been diagnosed HIV positive. Up until today, he thought his life was on a perfect course. He had a job he loved and something else he thought he’d never have: Brian, a new man, one whom Ethan thought of as “the one.” The one who would complete him, who would take his life from a lonely existence to a place filled with laughter, hot sex, and romance.

But along with the fateful diagnosis comes another shock—who is this new love? Had Ethan ever really known Brian? And did Brian infect him? As Ethan says, his love history had been more of a haiku than an epic and Brian seems the likely culprit in his newfound diagnosis.

The course of true love never runs smoothly, right? And for Ethan and Brian, their new love, once so bright and shining, now appears tinged with darkness and deceit. Can they face this hurdle together with honesty and forgiveness? Or will this revelation tear them apart?

Ethan turns to creating a blog, Off to See the Wizard of Poz, to help him deal with his diagnosis and love troubles, and what he finds there just may be more hope and support in the world than he once believed. And one of his blog readers just might have the key to Ethan’s happily ever after…

 


[More naked torsos. Can’t even write a book about HIV for Amber without them using their obligatory naked torso shot.]

Review:

One of the best aspects of Reed’s book is his unpredictability. Nothing is scared and every possible topic can be tackled. Here the author takes the happy ever after ending from his first book and turns it on its head when one of the characters is suddenly HIV positive. From the panic at his initial diagnosis to understanding medication and costs, this emotional story shows the scary and realistic aspects often overlooked when HIV changes someone’s life.  Well written with an intensity in the language, this solid story shows the positive and negative elements associated with the first brush of HIV while showing it’s not the death sentence it used to be and happy endings are still possible.

The story is told in third person point of view from Ethan’s perspective, delving into his panic as his mind whirls about how this was possible and where he could have been infected. Of course his mind lands on his boyfriend–Brian–and recent unprotected sex they’d had. In those moments of passion, trusting in monogamy and relative health, the ease to forgo protection is an all too common occurrence. The need to blame is understandable as Ethan reels from the news and struggles with the changes in his life and what it means for his relationship with Brian. The relatable and emotion filled scenes are honest and relevant as the immediate impact on Ethan’s life is clear. Ethan most certainly doesn’t deal well with his diagnosis and blame and fear control him for a considerable time.

Ethan turns to writing a blog as a way to express his overwhelming feelings of confusion, betrayal, and sadness. Within his blog he tackles important issues as they come up for him from the incredibly high cost of drugs (because really your life is worth any cost it demands) to his confusion over his relationship with Brian. The blog is therapy for Ethan and allows him to pour out his emotions in raw form and accept impartial feedback. The comments are all supportive, but show that not everyone changes their thinking or actions even if they sympathize with Ethan’s plight.

One of the points the author tries to convey through the blog is the casual cruelty used in online dating sites to segregate potential partners by HIV status. The common use of the term NEGUB2, which refers to the negative HIV status of the poster wanting someone also HIV negative, immediately sets apart an entire group of people. While the fear of such a life-changing virus is a real concern, Ethan reflects on the importance to look beyond medical status to the person. How those without HIV can be in a safe relationship with someone with HIV. Just as the first book reflected attitudes in online dating, this sequel highlights the further segregation that goes on within the gay population.

Even though Ethan doesn’t identify how he got infected, whether the virus had lain dormant within his body or he contracted it from Brian, he learns to look beyond the how to what it means for his life and relationship. In a particularly poignant internal commentary, Ethan muses:


Love was based on faith, and faith was really nothing more than hope, something indescribable and real in our hearts. And certainly not something that could be quantified or proven beyond a reasonable doubt.


While Ethan’s life has changed overnight and he may always have unanswered questions, he also learns he doesn’t have to be alone and he can have a happy and hopefully long life with someone he loves. You don’t have to be gay or HIV positive to understand and relate to the concepts and ideas presented within this story and thus the appeal will span across a wide variety of readers. The important topics presented in this well crafted, emotional, and compassionate story will linger well past the end of the book. 

Get it HERE!


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