Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: Concrete Fever - Nathaniel Kressen

Concrete Fever by Nathaniel Kressen
Genre: Adult, contemporary
Published on 2013
Published by Second Skin
Pages: 224
Read From: 8.1.14 - 8.6.14

On the night he decides to jump off his Upper West Side rooftop, a prep school teen encounters a lost girl dancing on the ledge. They split cigarettes, spill secrets, and hatch an unexpected plan: to play out a romantic relationship over the course of one night, and discover whether magic can truly exist. As the game propels them through scattered haunts of the city, the line that separates fantasy from reality blurs, leading each to reconsider what is real, what is illusion, and whether the dawn will bring it a new beginning or a violent end.


Cover Blurb? Yes or No? I actually kind of like the cover art. It's colorful and fun to look at, and I adore the pocket sizeness of this book! It's such an adorable little size! But. . . .that's about all I liked about Concrete Fever.

Characters: I can sum up every single one of these characters in one word: slimeballs. Jumper, our protagonist, is an asshole and admits it, and does nothing to remedy his behavior. He sleeps with every girl he knows, drinks himself into oblivion, does drugs, and thinks he can get by with anything because he's rich. Gypsy isn't much better. She does drugs, behaves provocatively, has no respect for personal property, does drugs, drinks, smokes, and is more than likely completely off her rocker. Jumper's dad, we find out, isn't much different from Jumper, though he did try and clean up his act (it didn't last). And Jumper's mom, Nix, was a disgusting individual, too, who doesn't do anything to fix her attitude or behavior, either. So, yes, not only did I not care about anyone; I despised them.

The Romance: Um, if you want to call what happens between Gypsy and Jumper romance, be my guest. But I don't; I call it lust. Pure and simple as that. So, no, I was not invested in the "romance" and I definitely thought it took up way too much of the story (well over 95% of it, in fact).

Plot: "Jumper" is the son of a rich businessman who dies in the Twin Towers. Not that Jumper is broken up about it. His dad never had time for him, treated his mom horrible, and Jumper has no interest in becoming like him. Nevertheless, after his dad dies, Jumper decides to end his life. But when he goes up on the rooftop of his apartment building to make friends with the concrete, he meets a girl dancing along the ledge. Gypsy is not like any other girl he's met. She's crazy, she's wild, she has no restraint, and she's dangerous. But the two decide to act out an entire romantic relationship in one night. Neither knows the other's real name, and they agree that whatever they say about their past, they will treat it as if it's the truth. Concrete Fever had no point. I know that contemporaries rarely do - I've read enough of them now to get what a good contemporary is supposed to be. This wasn't it. The entire book felt like a fevered dream, and maybe it was supposed to because Jumper is narrating it and he is drunk or high for the majority of it. But still - there just wasn't a point. They went out and got drunk, came back to Jumper's apartment and got drunk, had sex, got drunk again - and high, - went out again to eat, et cetera. We got to learn about Jumper's parents' messed up past, too, and I enjoyed that even less than Jumper's story.

Believability: No complaints.

Writing Style: First person, past tense. However, none of the dialogue has quotation marks, so you have to guess when someone is talking - and who, because the Author rarely says who is speaking at the time. Once you get into the rhythm, it's not too hard to follow, but I hate that kind of style. I just hate it. The style was also very choppy, and the imagery less than appealing. I have given a sampler below. And yes, the whole book it like this:

She guided my hand to the bruises on her face. She winced but kept it there. It felt like ham steak. I wanted to knife it apart and fry it. Pepper it. Swallow down its juices with a side of eggs. Sunny side up. Yolks broken and swimming in the cooking oil. I smelled coffee. I heard an alarm sounding. It was like that with Gypsy. An ounce of reality led to a fantastical world taking shape. (pg. 90)

Content: 23 f-words, 22 s-words, 3 g--damns. I don't even know where to begin with the sexual content, it was so continuous and explicit.

Conclusion: If this book had ended where Gypsy and Jumper faced their problems and overcame them, maybe I could at least give it a single strawberry. But even if that were the case - which it isn't; Gypsy and Jumper don't seem to learn anything at all - I couldn't overlook the fact that this book is filled to the brim with profanity, explicit sexual content, and truly despicable characters.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, 20-and-up. 

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