REVIEW: Bad Boy by Elliot Wake

Vlog star Renard Grant has nothing to prove: he’s got a pretty face, chiseled body, and two million adoring video subscribers. Plus the scars on his chest and a prescription for testosterone. Because Ren is transgender: assigned female at birth, living now as male. He films his transition and shares it bravely with the world; his fans love his honesty and positivity.

But Ren has been living a double life.

Off-camera, he’s Cane, the muscle-bound enforcer for social justice vigilante group Black Iris. As Cane, he lets his dark side loose. Hurts those who prey on the disempowered. Indulges in the ugly side of masculinity. And his new partner, Tamsin Baylor, is a girl as rough and relentless as him. Together, they terrorize the trolls into silence.

But when a routine Black Iris job goes south, Ren is put in the crosshairs. Someone is out to ruin his life. He’s a bad boy, they say, guilty of what he punishes others for.

Just like every other guy: at heart, he’s a monster, too.

Now Ren’s got everything to prove. He has to clear his name, and show the world he’s a good man. But that requires facing demons he’s locked away for years. And it might mean discovering he’s not such a good guy after all.

Title: Bad Boy
Author: Elliot Wake
Pub: Dec. 2016
Genre: New Adult/Thriller/Action
Rating: ★★★★★

I received an advanced copy of this book from the author 

EDIT: In light of the author’s actions over the last few weeks and given his behavior not only towards people of color, but specifically black women writers, I cannot recommend his book(s). The author has apologized so I suppose it’s up to you to determine whether you are comfortable supporting him. 

Everything discussed in this review was written before I knew about his behavior.

I suppose it says something when the only thing I disliked about this novel was that it wasn’t 100 pages longer. I want more Ren, I want more of this world! Give it to me!!!!!

So I was absolutely ecstatic when I found out I’d won a giveaway for a signed (that’s right *SIGNED*) advanced copy of this….. bad boy (couldn’t resist). I’d only read one of Elliot’s previous books so far, but followed him on Twitter and instantly fell in love with him, so I was incredibly eager to get my hands on this!

It’s almost like Bad Boy is the best of both worlds for me. Not only is it sort of this coming of age story (albeit mostly told through flashbacks and this vlog-log format) where we see a younger Ren beginning his transition, his surgeries, his appointments.

And then on the flip side we get a thriller. Ren a little later in his life, a member of the feminist vigilante group Black Iris. So it’s like two sides of an awesome coin! I will say it was a *tad* confusing when I was introduced to how Black Iris operated, but that’s probably because I have yet to read Wake’s previous novel that introduces the group Black Iris (which I plan to correct sometime in the neat future)

And even though this is Ren’s story, there’s also this ensemble cast that are all so well rounded and developed, and at a point it almost feels like I’m reading a superhero novel, like Black Iris is the Justice League, just without the powers, and definitely more feminist.

Speaking of feminism, this book is the kick-ass feminist book that everyone should read. It actually talks about feminism in a fairly realistic, even talking about the negatives, where feminism dissolves into misandry, while also covering topics like internalized misogyny, rape culture, privilege, and internet culture and how dangerous it can be for women.

I truthfully feel like this book can save lives, especially considering the shape of our current world. Where trans people are killed nearly every day, where trans kid are afraid to even speak out because of what their parents might do, where trans adults have to hide their real selves for fear of losing their lives, just for daring to be who they really are. I feel like the importance of books like this, of characters like Ren (or even Ellis) can’t be overstated, we need stories like this, from authors who have lived this existence.

And even if you aren’t trans, this book is full of things to learn. About trans people, about feminism, misogyny (even internalized), gender fluidity. Just trust me, read this book, pick up a copy when it comes out or apply for an e-arc, you wont’ regret it.

I won’t say much more than that, since we still have a good while before this bad boy (again, not sorry!) comes out. Just know that you need this book, really badly.

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