Title: All the Colors of Love
Author: Jessica Freely
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Length: 8 hours and 23 minutes
Narrator: Paul Morey
Publisher: Harmony Ink, Dreamspinner Press (1-31-14)
Heat Level: Mild
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥ 5 Hearts
Blurb: It sucks being the son of a super villain. At home, Harry spends half of his time getting medical treatments and the other half tied up in his father’s underwater lair. It was different when his mother was alive, but she disappeared when Harry was six. He can’t seem to stay out of trouble at school, and his new roommate, Antonin, thinks he’s a spaz, but somehow Harry has to find a way to stop his father’s evil plans.
Antonin Karganilla wants to become a comic book artist, but other than that, being gay is the most normal thing about him. His uncle is an aquatic plant man, his aunt is a molecular biologist back from the dead, and his mom is an overprotective pain in the butt. Antonin’s in boarding school and it’s starting to look like he and this Harry kid might have a lot in common… and that means a whole new set of problems.
Review: The description of this story is a little bit misleading, or I misunderstood. I was expecting a darker type of Sky High (the high school for super hero’s kids Disney movie) with a gay twist. What I got instead was definitely dark in some places, but also an uplifting story about a young man trying to find his way in life, separate from his evil father, equating everything he feels to colors.
Harry’s mom left when he was six years old, supposedly on a trip with his father, but she never returned. His life from that day on was the content of nightmares. He had already been a medical guinea pig of sorts, enduring ‘life saving’ injections and now abuse across the board, physical, mental and verbal, all at the hands of his father. Harry bounces from school to school, as he lashes out at everyone and everything that isn’t his father, wishing that it were, resulting in nothing but trouble. He’s just been dumped off at his latest school with the threat of being locked under the sink for the rest of his natural life if he steps so much as one toe out of line.
Antonin is a model student, graphic artist and openly gay. And now he is Harry’s new roommate. Antonin comes from a loving, overprotective and slightly psychotic family. He’s very talented with his comic book with the writing and the art. He’s also very inquisitive by nature. Harry sees him as nosey and dorkish at the start, but when Antonin steps up to some bully’s in defence of Harry, the two become friends. Antonin accepts Harry as his friend and trusts him to spite his shady past. The two grow closer with each passing day. Harry seriously fights the attraction, but not for the reasons one would think. He see’s being gay as wrong but he is in no way hateful or hurtful to Antonin because of his sexuality. He just doesn’t understand how he himself could be bad at one more thing. His father has his psyche so twisted by this point.
Harry accompanies Antonin home for the Christmas break even knowing that his father agreeing to him going will come at a price, a price Harry isn’t sure he can pay. He tries very hard not to grow attached to Antonin, to develop feelings he knows will be returned. It scares him, to be loved unconditionally. It’s not something he comprehends. As Harry and Antonin navigate their way through family dramas, love, loss, betrayal and more abuse, Harry learns that love is a valid emotion, one that comes in many colors.
This really was an amazing story that defined the grey area between ‘children learn what they live’ and ‘we are our own destiny’. Harry’s father is a cruel bastard who doesn’t care about anyone but himself. Antonin’s mother is overprotective and overbearing to a fault, which cause some of the same personality conflicts between them that we see between Harry and his father. The two of them could become very dangerous people given the circumstances of their lives until now. But together, they can become something wonderful, something more.
Narrated by the best, Paul Morey, I don’t think there is anyone better at voicing those subtle nuances and changes in tones when going from one character and/or emotion to another as well as Morey.
There is one scene in the story that skirts the boundaries of YA and NA, it is passionate but appropriate. It’s all about a love and awareness between Harry and Antonin. The simulated rape scene is more graphic in nature to be honest, but nothing ever goes quite over the line of young adult and adult. As I said, there is a darkness to this story, but overall it’s very engrossing with the slightly sci-fi aspect. I’d definitely recommend this audio book. It has a little bit of everything and progresses so smoothly, your day will fly by.
** I received a copy of this audio book from Dreamspinner Press in exchange for an honest review through MM Good Book Reviews **