Didn’t Like It
“Was very similar to the 2007 film, 'Shelter'. Liked the story for the most part.”see full review » see other reviews »
~Reviewed by ANN & posted at Under the Covers Book Blog
Touching and poignant! You can’t fake that type of emotion and Klune manipulates emotion to his whim, taking the reader on a journey that many won’t ever forget. ~ Under the Covers
Don’t look at the title! Or the cover! Ignore those because I know that it may not shout “Read me!” but I can assure you, the title makes complete sense and you’re not really reading about a bear and an otter with a human kid.
Bear (whose real name is Derrick) and Otter (Oliver) have become one of my favorite couples. Their story is one that made me laugh and cry. I definitely don’t suggest reading this book in mixed company because you will laugh hysterically and cry manically like a deranged person with bipolar.
When Bear turned eighteen, his mother left them and instead of a new car, he got sole possession of his younger brother whom they call, the Kid. Abandoned and burdened with a heavy task that no young adult should ever experience, Bear essentially grows up in a day. His best friend, Creed and his older brother, Otter have been helping them in any way that they can but, Bear feels ashamed to lean on them so much.
Despite the hard times, Bear and the Kid get along great and there are moments in this book that will completely melt your heart. That being said, there are also moments when it will crush your heart:
I reach into my pocket for my wallet and pull it out. Inside is a piece of paper I’ve carried for a year and a half. It’s yellowing with age and has ripped in a couple of places from how many times I have opened and read it. I hurl it at him. It bounces off his chin and into his lap. “Read it.”
He doesn’t move.
“Read it!” I shout.
He opens it and I see his face go white. “You….you kept this?” he whispers. “Bear, I –“
That’s it, I can’t take it anymore. I fumble about for the door handle, blinded by tears for Christ’s sake, and throw open the door. I am furious. Furious at myself for crying in front of him, furious at Otter for tricking me like he did, furious at myself for thinking of him like that.
Otter swore he’d never leave them, but immediately following something that shouldn’t have happened, he left them high and dry without a warning or explanation. Returning years later, the harbored anger and betrayal that Bear feels returns in full force and readers are caught within the storm as they try to hash it out.
I cried so many times while reading this book, the quote above being the first time. I think the last time I cried this much was reading Kenyon’s ACHERON, and I see some similarities between the two books. Readers sympathize with the main character on a level that goes beyond the pages. The pain doesn’t seem to stop and the self-deprecation just eats and eats at the protagonist.
The secondary characters are smart and funny and have the ability to tug on your heart stings as well. The Kid in particular has such depth to him. Klune has really been able to strike the perfect balance to creating a romance and a sense of family.
There have been some claims to plagiarism and since I haven’t watched the movie in which it was supposedly copied from, I will refrain from stating opinions. But I do think that this story was touching and poignant. You can’t fake that type of emotion and Klune manipulates emotion to his whim, taking the reader on a journey that many won’t ever forget. So, I’ll sign off by quoting the Kid, whose words definitely summed up this book for me.
“… The story was STRONG…And like Mad Cow Disease it will stay with me, for a time that is long.”
“OMG!! I cried my eyes out at times reading this book. I really enjoyed it.”jolymac wrote this review 2 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I love the story even though it is sometimes a little corny! This is a romance novel, but it is also the story of a bunch of young kids making their own family. There are a lot of graphic sex scenes, but if they bother you just skip over them. The rest of the story is well worth it. ”Nicki MAnn wrote this review Saturday, June 16, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Was very similar to the 2007 film, 'Shelter'. Liked the story for the most part.”Pr!ya wrote this review Tuesday, May 8, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Popular story but suffers from the retelling of the story two or three times in the book. A part of story is told. There is flashback to that part. The protagonist tells that part to others. The book could have benefited by reducing the size by one third without the all the repetition. The protagonist admits he is certifiably mentally ill. He hears voices. There is some foolish mind link from the main character to the ocean that is never explained. He is an orphaned teenager acting as a single parent to his little brother. There is an unnecessary and relationship threatening lack of communication between the protagonist and his lover. None of this is resolved, nevertheless we are told all is well. How? What basic problems have been corrected?”deleted wrote this review Tuesday, November 8, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The day before Derrick "Bear" McKenna's eighteenth birthday, his mother gave him the sort of birthday present from which Bear may never recover. A letter. Saying goodbye.
When he wakes up on his birthday he is sick with fear and anger and loss. He's just a kid himself, really, but suddenly he is the sole parental figure for his exceptional six-year-old brother, Tyson, aka the Kid. His college fund is gone right along with his plans for the future, and he is left to figure out how to take care of the Kid with the exactly $137.50 (of his own money) his mother was...kind enough...to leave for them.
Desperate and near crazed with the horror of it all, Bear reaches out to the one person he trusts more than anyone, the one who means more to him than anyone, even more than his best friend Creed and his girlfriend Anna, though he never, ever examines those feelings. And when Bear, mired in depression and desperation and soaked to the gills in booze, reaches out to Creed's older brother Otter and Otter comes to his aid, Bear steps over a line he isn't capable of even recognizing, let alone being comfortable with.
And he loses everything that matters...again...because of it. Everything except the Kid.
For three years Bear and the Kid are on their own. While the time passes, Creed goes off to college, Bear gets a promotion at the grocery store where he and Anna work, the Kid becomes truly terrifying with his intelligence, and things settle into a routine. Some days are good. Some days aren't. Life moves on. Then suddenly, on the same day Creed flies home for his summer break, another friend long gone returns. After three long, painful, bitter years, Otter is home.
And life for Bear will never be the same again. Whether it'll be better...or far, far worse...only time will tell.
There's a ton of things to like about Klune's debut, Bear, Otter, and the Kid, not the least of which is it's a he11 of an emotional roller coaster that slammed into my heart with the force of a major detonation. With main characters named Bear, Otter, and the Kid, along with some rather unique stylistic choices in the narrative, there's almost fairy tale quality about the book - but it's definitely more towards the Grimm side of fairy tales. Not that there isn't humor, in fact, there were parts that made me chuckle out loud, but there is quite a lot of less-than-pleasant reality, too, as Bear struggles to raise both himself and his little brother as his life and his identity are put through the wringer.
As far as the characters go, I. Loved. The Kid. Loved him. He was my favorite character of the book by far. In fact, for all the thousands of books I've read in my life, for all the millions of characters that have flitted through my consciousness, only to pass out of my mind to make room for the next crowd, the Kid made a place for himself right near the top of the heap. And I was also very fond of Otter, who I appreciated both for his decisions - even when they were impossible and painful - and for his open, generous, loving heart.
But Bear... God, Bear... There were times I just wanted to drown him in that ocean of his and move on. He was just a little too...stuck in his head...all the time, over EVERYTHING, and it made for some frustrating reading. So much of the melodramatic angst of the book could have been avoided if he'd just manned up and spoken up or spoken out. Would it have been as powerfully emotional a read? No, but I would've felt better about his mental state and his emotional maturity.
In all honesty, I had difficulty viewing Bear as a strong lead character in a successful romance because of his age and his personality and it's pretty much the sole reason I couldn't rate the book with a full complement of stars. Even very close to the end of the book Bear still struck me as needy and judgmental, prickly and defensive, terrified and hostile. And I am not a fan of hypocrisy in any form, so Bear's reaction to Creed and Anna really bothered me. It was totally realistic and believable, don't get me wrong, but I'm no larger a fan of hypocrisy in my fiction than I am of it in my life, and it tends to bother me whenever I encounter it.
I very much enjoyed the loose format, fluid timeline, and more stream-of-consciousness narrative, but I wasn't a fan of the first person, present tense POV. It had the unfortunate result of highlighting all my issues with getting stuck in Bear's head. That being said, the plot was well conceived and executed and the pacing of the emotional ups and downs was consistent throughout the book
A few plot threads confused me a little, there were a couple of times I wasn't sure exactly what the significance or impact a scene was really suppose to have, or was unable to glean the meaning in the subtext while the characters seemed to be doing so. A few balls were dropped, a few scenes didn't make sense, or lacked some believability. Nothing too major, really.
One thing that bothered me was the ease in which the characters blatantly mentioned some fairly crass and graphic things in Mrs. Paquinn's presence. I was hard pressed to believe a bunch of barely-adults would freely talk that way in the presence of the senior citizen who watched Ty. She was portrayed as a pretty wily old broad, but even still, including an elderly lady and a nine-year-old boy in a frank sexual discussion in which both fisting and spanking was mentioned was - and still is - more than vaguely horrifying.
There were also several plot threads that were left unresolved or those which could have been better developed to add a bit of depth and dimension to the plot. The whole mother thing, while providing several gut-wrenching scenes that were successfully horrific and emotionally traumatizing, didn't make a lot of sense in the big picture of the story. Without readers being given a reason for her to show up, an explanation of how she knew what she knew, or having anything relating to her presence tied into the rest of the story, it ended up seeming more like a plot contrivance than an organic evolution to the events of the story.
As an epic emotional journey that rips out your guts and leaves your shattered heart pattering weakly in your chest, Bear, Otter, and the Kid was wildly, crazily successful. I felt like my emotions had been through a natural disaster when this book was done. I'm pretty sure my soul would've looked like a tornado-ravaged town if I could've taken its picture. It may not have been a perfect book, but it was so powerful on an emotional level that despite the issues I mentioned, I ended up feeling both deeply moved and glad I had read it. Heck, even if the book had nothing more going for it than the Kid (which isn't the case by any means), it still would've been a right good time.
And I have to say it again. Loved. The Kid.
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Dreamspinner Press via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
Reviewed for One Good Book Deserves Another.
“What a wonderful debut! This is a m/m romance that had it all. It was heartwarming, heartbreaking and hilarious. Absolutely brilliant.”engineergoddess wrote this review Saturday, August 27, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I am emotional exhausted after reading this book. Don't get me wrong I loved it, but it just wore me out. I laughed, I cried then laughed some more. It's a story of love and loss and what a family really means. Bear and Ty are left by their mother when Bear is only seventeen and he must learn to take care of his brother. Thankfully, they have a strong support group in their friends. Bear must also come to grips with his love for his best friend's brother. I just don't have the words to describe how really wonderful this book is and highly I recommend everyone to read it and share in the experience that is the Kid! ”Angie D wrote this review Sunday, August 21, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“BOATK is a gift to a reader like me.
Angst, laugh out loud humor, internal and external conflict, lots of love-conquers-all and really well developed characters made BOATK a joy to read.
Who knew one could hold their breath for 6 hours?