The Temptation of Adam by Dave Connis

36167101Adam Hawthorne is fine.

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.

Source Format Pages Publisher Genre Publication Date
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,

Dave.

[from Goodreads]

 

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 onThat 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.”

 

36 comments

  1. Oh I am so adding this! I live how diverse your reading list is. I am always picking up bits on books I would have missed. This sounds very relatable (no I do not have a porn addiction) but we all have vices and Adam sounds very viable as a character. All in all it seems the author executed this well! Fabulous review 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved The Serpent King, so this book should be on my list. I like that the author wasn’t detailed in the addiction elements. I have read a few YAs that were pretty graphic with sexual matters and when I mentioned I didn’t think that belonged in YA, I usually got bombarded with the “teenagers have sex” defense trying to twist what I said into “there should no sex in YA”. I hate that. There are plenty of YA authors who include sex in their books, but they describe it in a way that the reader is only going to envision what they already know.

    Anyway, I like that the author showed how people stumble on their path to recovery, too. I loved your review, as usual, thanks for sharing your thoughts. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    • hahaha… yeah, I would have been all out sticky-talking if the book was like that but I didn’t think I could taint this read in that way…

      Ha, I guess any addiction comes with it’s badness but I am sure some would disagree where porn is involved 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • There was a prince (of denmark, holland or some such country) who was addicted to … pleasing himself. It became a serious issue of state from what I understand.

        Ps your sticky talk was well made already when discussing your strange ways whilst book shopping.

        Like

  3. teehehehe sticky… oh dear, I’m very mature. OMG- this is like Serpent King?!?! I loved serpent king!!! (btw “beautiful pain” is a gorgeous and perfect way to describe that book) That alone would make me want to read this book, but your stunning review has completely convinced me that I *need* to read this!!! It sounds like it addresses so many issues in a moving and yet relatable way. Awesome review!!

    Like

  4. This could have been such a different novel but I’m happy that the author did such a brilliant job and didn’t turn it into a slapstick kind of story. I’m reading a novel about addictions soon as well (food, sex and something else) so I hope to see the same ups and downs and progression towards the end of the novel. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You had me at The Serpent King! I’m opening Netgalley as I type this and I’m also keeping my fingers crossed it will still appear on there… It’s a miracle you can still read this comment haha. This sounds absolutely bloody brilliant! You have me 200% convinced I need to read this book.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, there’s definitely a huge amount of substance in this novel based on this review. It does sound like the author nailed it and does a great job in tackling them too. It’s nice to hear he was able to make use of his own personal experience to create this. I’ll definitely keep an eye open for this title if I ever come across it. Great review, Liz!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers, Lashaan… truly, having finished the book, I couldn’t believe it was a ‘Read Now’ on netgalley… felt very lucky to have stumbled across it and for giving it a chance 🙂 Great YA books are hard to come by so I do feel privileged in this case 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This sounds absolutely brilliant, Liz!
    I’m glad you connected with Adam and all the other characters almost instantly and I’m sure that helped make your reading experience all the more enjoyable 🙂
    It’s cool that it was balanced too, as sometimes books like these tend to be either too depressing or too happy go lucky… Neither of which should apply to a story about a porn-addicted teenager (perfect blurb, by the way hahaha)
    Amazing post, as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This sounds like an awesome read! I’m glad there’s no graphic descriptions within it. I think themes such as addiction need to be handled sensitively because these are the kinds of things that affect so, so many people, either directly or indirectly. I think it’s good that the author has chosen to detract from the shock factor of having a porn addiction and has chosen, instead, to focus on the healing process.
    Great review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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