Atom Heart John Beloved - Luke Hartwell Atom Heart John Beloved or The Super Kinky Secret Sex Lives of Small Town American Teenagers. Okay, I'm being glib. I actually don't know how I feel about this book. I'm giving it four stars, not because I think it's particularly good, but because it's given me some things to think about and I pretty much ate it up in one sitting. Impulsive me bought the book because I really liked the title and it was listed as GLBT (I had no idea what it was about otherwise), and I'm not sorry I did, but I feel fairly conflicted.

It's a coming of age story, at its core , which is by turns amazingly naive and shockingly dirty (yes, there's an awful lot of coming). Narrated by John, the world's most narcissistic teenager, self-centered in a way that only a beautiful adolescent can be. It deals mostly with his relationship with his gay best friend and his struggle to fit in to an ultra-religious community. I didn't like John as a person, his vanity and hypocrisy were galling, but he also sometimes flashed us a little bit of his humanity. It's a book essentially full of contradictions and this kind of makes sense in the context of being a confused but cocky teenager, but it's not easy to read. The narrative is a little all over the place for example, at one point, in the middle of having gay sex for the first time, the narrator goes into this long exposition on how he's half Hispanic, and I was just like wtf?, and some things are never resolved in a satisfying way. It also deals with some heavy themes of abuse and exploitation that left a very bad taste in my mouth.

So, again, I won't say I enjoyed it, there were too many flaws and also some hetero sex, but I'm giving it four stars anyway.