Yeah, his mother left, his older sister went with her, and his dad would rather read Nicholas Sparks novels than talk to him. And yeah, he spends his nights watching self-curated porn video playlists.
But Adam is fine.
When a family friend discovers Adam’s porn addiction, he’s forced to join an addiction support group: the self-proclaimed Knights of Vice. He goes because he has to, but the honesty of the Knights starts to slip past his defenses. Combine that with his sister’s out-of-the-blue return and the attention of a girl he meets in an AA meeting, and all the work Adam has put into being fine begins to unravel.
Now Adam has to face the causes and effects of his addiction, before he loses his new friends, his prodigal sister, and his almost semi-sort-of girlfriend.
|Netgalley||ebook||237||Sky Pony Press||Young Adult||November 21st, 2017|
Hi, my name is Liis and I’m addicted to… hang on!… we’re not here to talk about me. This is all about Adam and the Knights of Vice.
I came across this book on Netgalley when I shouldn’t have even been on Netgalley but hey-ho! It was listed as ‘Read now’ and my temptation at a quick access to a book won over. Plus- in a way, I wanted to put myself through a possibly sordid cringefest of a teenage boy’s porn addiction! Win-win all around!
I bet you’re expecting me to use all sorts of sticky (ahem) words in this review but no… minds out of the gutter, because- for me- The Temptation of Adam is one of those YA books that sits up there with The Serpent King by Zentner and I LOVED The Serpent King. Yes, the topics and themes are quite different, but TToA had a different kind of ‘beautiful pain‘ to it… The addictions in this book range from porn to drugs to self-harm, but the focus is more on the journey of healing. There are no graphic descriptions on how one or other character indulges in their personal vices. Anyway, I’m not going to assume everyone is going to like this book because we all take away and nitpick on things based on our personal preferences. In the end, it’s up to each reader to make of the book what they will.
Personally, I found TToA to be perfectly balanced. There’s hurt but also joy, there’s denial but also acceptance, there’s sadness but also fun. It’s life in a book, brilliantly delivered. If there’s one thing I admire seeing is how people… creators… poets and writers and musicians, take their pain, past hurt, struggles and turn it into something beautiful and worthwhile. Dave Connis has used his experiences*** and transferred it into a book about addiction with a hopeful and ‘can do’ attitude.
*** Hi, my name is Dave Connis and I wrote this thing. This little book packs a lot of emotion for me because I’ve wrestled with being good enough my whole life. I’ve always felt the broken parts of me more than the good. TOA is a lot of things, a book about addiction, a book about hope, a book about kids attempting to find something greater than themselves, but it was also my attempt (a very very long and work-intensive attempt) at talking myself into believing my brokenness is only one part of me. On the pie chart of what makes me a human, it only takes up a slice and the other stuff matters just as much. I really hope that this book helps you believe that, too.
Here’s to hallelujahs,
It took me no time at all to warm to Adam. Even filled with all the hurt over feeling rejected and the addiction, he’s a young intelligent lad and there’s nothing mean about him. He’s just lost. He’s lost when he does something that justifies the Anti-Adam Order at school.
It took me no time at all to warm to all the other characters either. They’re youngsters but there’s (thankfully) none of that ‘popular girl’ gang shebang or the ‘I’m so rich I’m better than you’ stuff. Well… there is that rich character but they rebel against it. Instead, they’re all someone you like and root for. They have their addictions to fight but being the Knights of Vice, they can do it together. Each member of the support group adds their little personality quirk to the mix and they bounce off each other nicely.
Outside of the teenagers, we have Adam’s dad and Mr. Cratcher as the main adult characters. It comes as no surprise that even the adult characters in this book are fighting their own personal battles. By now it might start to sound like everyone in TToA has a problem and it might be too much to take… but, no. It never gets suffocating or depressing… Yes, there’s death involved, but it’s also life.
More importantly, all the characters, adult and teenage, are like standing domino pieces and with Adam’s addiction coming to light, he gives that nudge to make the whole row fall into a path of a connected journey towards something better.
From addiction ⇒ new-found freedom ⇒ relapses ⇒ accepting the lifelong fight ahead was fantastically peppered with the blossoming friendships, loveships and family dynamics. Just like life is messy and unpredictable, so were the moments where it felt like they were all going to be perfectly OK, to moments where all fell to pot again. Moments where the fight just got too much and hopelessness kicked in, to moments where friendship offered a supporting hand to crawl out of denial towards acceptance.
“I’m a walking addiction clock, counting down to midnight, and I really want to stop before the arms swing too low.”
What I most enjoyed was the positive effect Dez had on Adam. Dez is also in Knights of Vice. A storm in a teacup and frustrating at times as a character but let’s not forget that she has her own addiction and the way she acts, is her escape. She’s the entirety of a teenage chaos!
Dez is also the only living and breathing female that makes Adam look up from the gripping haze of porn. Yes, you could argue that love does not fix anything. No, it doesn’t. It will always be up to our very selves to fix ourselves, but love does give us that little kick up the backside to try. Love does give us that motivation and hope for the future.
I enjoyed the writing in this book a lot and it’s mostly down to Adam’s character. The way he sees Dez is not your dry account of she looks hot jibber jabber. It’s not some kind of teenage puppy love pining either. It’s something more.
“You are made of broken and holy blazes of light.” The phone’s silent for a few seconds. Have I scared her? Should I take it back? How do you take back a comment about being made of blazes of light? You are pure darkness? You are smoky tendrils of evil?
“Finally,” she eventually says. “I didn’t think anyone would ever notice.”
Here you may ask me- is this all there is? Addiction and teenage love? No. There’s the mysterious and wise Mr. Cratcher. With his own story to tell, he is the selfless mentor the teenagers need. I can’t say much about him but there might be some music involved! In fact, the music element adds nicely to the plot development and sends our KoV on a road trip.. how they get along there, all the way from home with their addictions? You’ll just have to find out for yourself.
Overall– I am so happy I decided to read this book. Themes and characters aside, I truly enjoyed the prose. It was just perfect to create the atmosphere, whether melancholy, sad, bordering philosophical or point blank light-hearted. There is a lot of Adam’s inner monologue but it never get’s dull… the kid has substance!
I know I read an ARC and I’m not supposed to quote from the book, but I swear I highlighted so many passages I loved and I couldn’t help myself… my review is nothing without those little teasers. I needed you to have a bite… sorry! I am ready to face the consequences. Please- drag me to jail if you must but I had to share quotes. *holds out arms so cuffs can be thrown on* That being said- quotes subject to change for the final, published product, ok?
I feel such heaviness that I, Adam Hawthorne, a man with a penis, want to scream and sob like an infant. “I feel like I’m being assaulted with adultness, and I’m not ready for it. We’re only sixteen.”