Moving in Rhythm - Dev Bentham
I have to rate this around a 2.5. I so wanted to like this story and I thought I would because the premise was a good idea, but it was completely lacking in execution.Mark Apolostolos has a severe social disorder that has prompted him to live his life in seclusion, except for the companionship of his dog, Belle. He even manages to have a career teaching online. So, of course, he is unable to form relationships with people other than his family. To experience brief glimpses of intimacy he picks up random guys in bars and has anonymous sex in alleys. No talking, no tenderness, just fun and done. Afterward he is consumed with self-loathing. He finally decides he won't do that to himself anymore and will live the life of a hermit. That all changes when his brother, Pete, begs him to take care of his very pregnant wife, Lisa, during his deployment to Afghanistan with the National Guard.My biggest problem with this story was that I couldn't connect to the characters. Especially Mark. The prologue, while a big turn off to me (especially mentioning the married men, that already put him in a negative light for me), could have accomplished its goal if there was more showing us his self-loathing than him simply saying it over and over. I felt the triggers of his social disorder seemed convenient. It kind of reminded me of Rajesh Koothrappali on The Big Bang Theory. Except his inability to speak in front of all women (while sober) has been completely consistent throughout five seasons. Whereas Mark apparently can't teach an actual class, so he teaches online. He can talk to guys he doesn't find attractive, but hot guys fluster him. Okay, join the club. He can't be in a room of people without freaking out but he can be in rumba class just fine – until he's thinks about the attractive guy teaching it. He can be at a party, and actually kiss the attractive guy out of the blue, but a lamaze class isn't okay and causes him to freak out. He has problems with pretty much all interpersonal relationships but he befriends Claire with complete ease. I've made some of those sound simplistic, but there appeared to be no consistency to what freaked him out and what didn't. Therefore, I couldn't connect with Mark's problem at all, and I couldn't be as compassionate about it as the story requires. Which is a big problem because it's used as a crutch for all of his issues.Mark refuses to come out to his family because he's worried about their reactions, but he comes across as completely clueless because there was everything except a giant neon sign flashing above their heads saying they aren't anything resembling homophobic. I don't dismiss how hard coming out is. There is real fear to be had there, especially since Mark knew his deceased father was homophobic. My problem is that he was so myopically focused on his disorder he continually missed the obvious.I felt like there was a lot of telling us about his problems and the way he lives his life without a lot of showing. He was constantly whining about how "fucked up" he was but I never really felt like he was, just that he kept telling himself that and was fatalistic about it. He basically retreated behind being a victim of his condition to the point he couldn't see what was right in front of his face. He spent the most time with Lisa and Clare but I still didn't feel any connection between the characters. There were glimpses of rapport with Pete but they weren't in contact enough to flesh it out. (I really wish we were given some time with Pete at the beginning before his deployment, it might have helped.)That disconnect extended to Mark and Seth as well. The relationship between the two was barely cultivated. We got more (and constant) details about Mark's workouts everyday. At a certain point I wanted to light my iPad on fire if I had to read about one more of his freaking workouts. (Of course, if it wasn't the workouts we'd get more detailed grocery shopping lists.) He managed to get closer to Seth than anyone else, but that was only by virtue of the fact that Seth did all the trying. All Mark did was lament his condition and willfully misinterpret Seth's words and actions. With both his family and Seth it seemed like he didn't really want to move forward. It's not the fear I have a problem with, it's the not even trying. It was one step forward, two steps back. Seth is supposed to be different but to get to the sex quicker they reduced themselves to enacting one of Mark's previous anonymous sexual rendezvous. And he was excited about it. Now, by this point it had been something like a year for him so I get he was horny but I still had a problem with him reverting back to that place just to get to the sex instead of trying to create a lasting relationship with this man. And then it didn't even work! At a really random point he decides he has to flee and pops up out of bed throws clothes on and runs out of the house. I was cursing at him, it was just that annoying.I skimmed all the sex. I wasn't interested in the two of them. In the first scene(s) because I was annoyed by the pretending, in the second because I didn't buy the relationship (and really? A sex scene as the very last occurrence in the book?). The end didn't pay off for me at all. Their "I love you"s were out of the clear blue. There's no way they had been together enough for that to be true. When Mark said it I screeched "WHAT?!" out loud. And then he was suddenly cured of any issues talking to Seth or being near him. Just *poof* gone. It didn't work for me.This was a short book, but it took me a long time to read because I couldn't get into it and I was constantly getting irritated with Mark and putting it down.