Blame It on the Raging Hormones by Nathan Goh
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Blame it on the Raging Hormones is a fun to read, engaging coming of age tale. The format is epistolary and blogs are used entirely. This can be both good and bad for a novel as the narrator is inherently biased and the story is always told to you versus shown. There are a couple of technical mistakes such as tense changing and the language used is conversational with numerous emotes rather than a more polished, sophisticated style. However for those that enjoy reading blogs and like a casual style may find this particular story endearing.
The narrator is Nicky, a 20 year old young man desperately hoping to find true love. At the beginning of the story he’s just been dumped by Alex, who he thought was “the One” but soon found out was not. Nicky is upset, hurt, and confused as his blogs wonder from his search for a new true love to his friends’ problems and onto his day to day life with work, hook ups, and so on. The tone is always light and engaging, inviting readers to laugh along with Nikky’s problems and escapades. The timeline jumps around, sometimes every day and other times going weeks or months as Nikky tries to find himself, his confidence, and his path.
The language is very conversational, as fitting a blog style of novel. Sometimes the tense tends to change from past to present and back again awkwardly but the sentence construction can be awkward as well. This could be a function of the Singapore setting and method of speaking and honestly either way it’s not really a distraction or problem. It’s just very noticeable, especially as the story is told to the reader from start to finish. This brings up the question of narrator reliability but Nikky comes across as honest in his recounting and open, instead of guarded and potentially lying.
The characters are pretty thin only because it’s tough to develop complexity among blog entries. There’s not enough background and context for the reader to fully appreciate the depth and variety the characters offer. However the story does a commendable job in trying to present very different types of people and the problems they realistically face. There is Dave and Daniel as a long time monogamous couple that suddenly are facing problems. Dexter is in an abusive cycle of relationships and can’t break free. Then there is Nikky, desperately wanting love so badly but always choosing the wrong guy.
Nikky is not always a sympathetic narrator. He makes some appalling choices, terrible mistakes, horrible decisions, and kind of drops his friend Dexter in a terrible time of need. But this is a coming of age story and any young man is bound to make mistakes, missteps and wrong turns. Eventually Nikky understands his motivations and needs and comes to his own choices. I do feel that the ending is somewhat weak and Nikky settles for something safe instead of what he really wants. It’s an interesting choice though, as is the story itself, shedding light on very real issues and concerns within the gay community. The obsession with looks and wealth and the endless anonymous sex that some men get caught in is shown without praise or judgment but as a very real part of Nikky’s life and circle.
Sometimes blog formats can be repetitive and empty, halfway peeking into a life and situations without knowing the other details. Yet this novel manages to do so in a very endearing and easy to read way. It’s not a deep novel, despite the problems presented, but it’s genuine and honest in all the best ways. Don’t let the cover scare you (it had a very lovely cover when self published). I’d recommend this to those that enjoy YA books and those that particularly like reading blogs about finding your way.