Rating: 5 stars
The Story of Jax and Dylan is a m/m romance that tells the story of two estranged friends. Dylan was in love with his friend Jax while they were at school, but after one awkward kiss just before the end of high school, they didn’t speak again until a chance re-connection via Facebook.
So, I did ummm and ahhh about giving this book five stars, because it wasn’t perfect. I thought there were places where it could have been pacier, and the in-depth description of how Facebook works that it opened with already seems dated, but in the end none of those things mattered.
Like any truly great romance novel, The Story of Jax and Dylan wasn’t just about two people finding one another and falling in love. It was a nuanced portrayal of the struggle of living with a non-heterosexual identity in a modern society which is, in so many ways, beginning to be so accepting. About the potential emotional cost of silence and secrecy that surrounds teenage explorations of sexuality.
One of my favourite parts of the novel was how it was structured around another book, written by Jax, which was slowly revealed to be autobiographical. It made me wonder how far this story-in-a-story extended, and whether it was as far as the book I myself was reading. And I was glad I was left wondering.
I raced through this book in one go on a three-hour train journey (I think I scandalised the woman sitting next to me, but that’s her problem), and I’ve had a lot of time to think about it, and to think about what kind of review I wanted to write. Ultimately, the book really made me feel something. I thought it was very honest without having any kind of “this is the take home message” blah in it. It was sensitive and heartwarming without being schmalzy, and as well as telling a wonderful romance story, it really had something to say about the society we live in and the way we relate to one another. I would strongly recommend.
*Contains graphic sex