Even though they're identical, Tristan isn't close to his twin Robbie at all—until Robbie tries to kill himself.
Forced to share a room to prevent Robbie from hurting himself, the brothers begin to feel the weight of each other's lives on the ice, and off. Tristan starts seeing his twin not as a hockey star whose shadow Tristan can't escape, but a struggling gay teen terrified about coming out in the professional sports world. Robbie's future in the NHL is plagued by anxiety and the mounting pressure from their dad, coach, and scouts, while Tristan desperately fights to create his own future, not as a hockey player but a musical theatre performer.
As their season progresses and friends turn out to be enemies, Robbie finds solace in an online stranger known only as “Jimmy2416.” Between keeping Robbie's secret and saving him from taking his life, Tristan is given the final call: sacrifice his dream for a brother he barely knows, or pursue his own path. How far is Robbie willing to go—and more importantly, how far is Tristan willing to go to help him?
Mia Siegert's sophomore novel SOMEBODY TOLD ME released in Spring 2020 with great trade reviews (SLJ's verdict was "Highly Recommended Read") and features in Teen Vogue, Book Riot, Buzzfeed, and many more.
Siegert's debut JERKBAIT made Goodreads Best YA of May 2016, Top 12 Indie YA from Barnes & Noble Teen Blog, Top 10 YA of 2016 from AndPop!, and gained attention from SB Nation, Publishers Weekly, Barnes & Noble Teen Blog, AndPOP!, MaximumPOP! UK, VOYA Magazine, Paste Magazine, Teen Librarian Toolbox, among many others.
When not writing, Siegert is a self-taught costume designer with their husband and two cats. Their work has appeared on Netflix's "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" and the CW's "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend."
I'm honestly not the person to write negative reviews, but in this case I feel like it's warranted. After reading a few reviews on goodreads before the release, I was really excited to read this book. I'm always looking for good LGBT novels and this one seemed interesting in regards to it dealing with homophobia in professional sports. I'm not even sure I can express how severely disappointed I am.
This may seem over exaggerated and blunt but I honestly felt like I was reading a first draft of someone's really angsty fanfiction. I'm sorry, that seems so mean but it's just the truth. It started off a little over dramatic but promising, but by halfway through I just couldn't believe these amateur plot devices. It read like an early episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Overall the conflicts with Robbie and Tristan did not seem realistic. I'm not doubting that these things happen but all of them, in rapid succession, to these characters? Not to mention the twins would out of the blue start to have new character traits and not in a good, natural character progression sort of way? Almost every Bad thing that would happen to Robbie seemed like a caricature of every ~gay horror story~ you hear about growing up.
Now SPOILER ALERT. I'm not gonna put this paragraph under a spoiler format because if you are planning on going into this book, you need to know these things: As I was getting tired of seemingly OOC story twists and overly dramatic reactions to everything, they had to go and add not only a Catfish Internet predator RAPE plot but also supernatural twin telepathy?!???? I honestly can't believe I typed that with my own hands.
Also, I'm assuming this book is supposed to be current day? or at least recent? but it was clearly written by someone who isn't up to date on how teens live in 2015/2016. I'm serious, the internet predator storyline was literally just like those Very Special Internet Safety Episodes of every teen show ever made in the early 2000s. I was constantly like, "What year is this supposed to be?" Tumblr is popular enough for a mention? It definitely detracted from the reliability of the text. WAIT I just remembered that someone had a NHL '16 video game so it's definitely 2015. Yeah, no. It reads like it's 2003.
I'm not even gonna touch on the Mom (and honestly the Dad too) and their rampant racism and homophobia that stems from yet another hurtful LGBT trope. Like honestly the more I'm typing out the problems I had with this book the more I'm honestly mad I spent time reading it.
All in all? If you're a veteran of LGBT literature and are tired of the same tropes and horrible angst (even though this story has a "happy" (forced) ending) PLEASE AVOID. Also if you're newer or younger and are exploring LGBT lit please know this isn't the only option for you.
I'm sorry that this review is harsh but I just feel like it was talked up as this incredibly progressive and thought provoking story but instead I got angst turned up to 11 and every tired sad/cruel LGBT trope in the book.
#1 New Release in Teen & Young Adult LGBT Issues Fiction on Amazon.com
#3 New Release in Teen & Young Adult Gay and Lesbian Fiction on Amazon.com
The #JERKBAIT Playlist is featured on Books and Ladders. Check it out and listen on Spotify.
What Others Have to Say about JERKBAIT (Updated 3/19/16):
"Every athlete, parent and high school kid, gay or straight, will see some of themselves reflected in Jerkbait’s teammates and families. So will every ally who wants to see change. Jerkbait is gutsy, urgent, raw and hopeful." - Brian Kitts, Co-Founder, You Can Play.
"Jerkbait was an excellent read on the complex issues facing LBGTQ athletes, as well as their families, featuring complex, believable characters who would not be out of place in any high school across America." - Chris Kluwe, Former NFL Player, LGBTQ Rights Activist, and Author of Prime: A Genesis Series Event
"Issues like bullying and Internet predators are explored, and Mia Siegert isn’t afraid to go there and get ugly, get dark. As a reader, I appreciated her honesty. As a writer, I was in awe of her talent (...) Electric and explosive, yet soft and nuanced, JERKBAIT is a powerhouse of a debut that is bound to leave a mark on the world of YA lit." - Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, author of FIRSTS
"Mia Siegert’s Jerkbait presents a vivid picture of adolescent life as it’s lived today, from high school feuds to Facebook romance and beyond. Her account of the twins Tristan and Robbie, conjoined and yet separate, is poignant in the real sense: sharply drawn, pointed, and piercing." —David Galef, award-winning author, How to Cope with Suburban Stress
"Mia Siegert's poignant, vibrant first novel deals with issues of sexual orientation, which makes it very timely, and with issues of the human heart, which makes it timeless." —Mark Spencer, award-winning author, A Haunted Love Story: The Ghosts of the Allen House
amazing! a Sad & Tragic Gay Book™! sth we have NEVER read before!!!
things u can expect in this "gem":
- rape - merciless bullying at school - (the victim is a straight boy instead of the gay one!! it's refreshing like that! for a few chapters anyway) - abusive parents who literally buy their kid's cooperation w presents - a guy punishing his twin brother for being suicidal!! - & a total lack of characterisation!!! none of those ppl have any personality and it's honestly impossible to care abt any of them - oh! & there's literal twin telepathy???? randomly, in the last quarter of the book?????
You know how there are books that are impossible to read passively? Instead, the whole time you’re reading you’re going a little crazy because you want to leap into the pages and actually interact with the characters.
JERKBAIT was like that.
I wanted to hug Robbie and Tristan because I was so sad for them, and shake their parents for screwing up so horribly, and slap Heather for… well, you should probably read and find out for yourself.
Tristan, the narrator, is smart, funny, and overall a good guy. But he’s also flawed.
Why wouldn’t he be? The poor kid never had a chance. Growing up in the house with a superstar brother has ensured that his own wants and needs will never come first. He’s lived his life as the lesser part of a package deal. The most heartbreaking thing about Tristan’s situation is that he accepted defeat long ago. He’s so used to being second best that it hardly even phases him anymore.
Despite Tristan’s struggles, Robbie is the truly tragic character in the novel. He’s tormented by his sexuality, fearing that if he’s openly gay, he’ll ruin his chances at become a professional hockey player. If he speaks up, he loses everything he’s ever dreamed of. If he stays quiet, he loses himself—his secret will eat him up.
I worry I’m making it sound like this book is one depressing moment after another—which is absolutely not the case. It’s also funny. Even when he’s sad, Tristan’s wit comes through strong. My favorite books are the ones that use humor to offset the sad situations, and JERKBAIT certainly succeeds at this.
With the current cry for diversity in YA novels, I know JERKBAIT is going to get attention because it features a gay athlete. Because I feel a lot will be said on that topic elsewhere, I want to focus on something else here. To me, the book is important not only because it shows the struggles of a gay athlete, but because it shows the struggles of young athletes in general.
So often, high school athletes are treated like gods. Imagine being a kid in that situation. Imagine everyone—your friends and parents and teachers—expecting you to live up to this standard. And imagine how it would feel if you failed.
Come on, let’s face it. High school is hard enough without that kind of insane pressure. How is a teenager supposed to cope with feeling like they let down everyone they know? How are they supposed to cope with someone else laying out their whole lives for them, with never being seen as an individual and all their worth coming from their athletic prowess?
This book was a fantastic exploration of high school athletics, and I hope it ends up in the hands of kids who have been in the same position as both Robbie and Tristan. Actually, maybe I should go a step beyond that and say I hope it gets into the hands of parents too.
In closing, I think at its core, this book is about accepting who you are. Maybe you’re a drama nerd. Maybe you’re a star hockey player. Either way you’re a complex human with your own sets of experiences, likes, dislikes, wants and needs. And that deserves to be celebrated.
*UPDATE* I've re-read this book and am changing my review by a whole star - sorry this reads so badly on a second pass through and bits I either blanked out or skipped over are so bad (the whole end 1/4 of the book) I have bumped it down. Don't bother with this book... for better books see the end of my review *END UPDATE*
This book could have been interesting and well developed yet it sadly suffers from some of the worst gay related tropes I have read for a while. This book has many of the same issues which crop up repeatedly in m/m romance - the TRAGIC GAY ™ often found in titles which have been written by women for women.
The gay character is only there as the ‘emotional porn’ for a female audience. Rather than making the reason for Robbie's multiple suicide attempts, the crushing parental pressure put on him due to his future (possible) hockey career; it has been made into a 'gay' issue - TRAGIC GAY ™ closeted teen blah, blah, blah.
But don’t worry – this book isn’t really about the gay jock but the straight musical theatre loving identical twin brother – I know, why focus on the book on the TRAGIC GAY ™, when it can be about the clueless brother, who has all the personality and emotional resonance of a potted palm. The parents and friends are just as bad, this book had many chances to redeem itself but it never pulls it off. This book not only has TRAGIC GAY ™ but also includes PREDITORY GAY ™ which is a bonus (don’t worry TRAGIC GAY ™ is saved due to a psychic link – because, you know, twins...). Well at least this doesn’t have INSTALOVE™... Oh! Wait? Bugger!; well at least I have a full house in trope BINGO!
It would have been more interesting to have this as a gay with a non 'gay' issue (i.e. that the cause of the problem was NOT his sexuality). That would have made this book better. If you want a gay related jock book try ‘Out of the Pocket’ by Bill Konigsberg or for a gay brother/straight brother book try ‘What They Always Tell Us’ by Martin Wilson.
JERKBAIT is one of those novels that tackles a TON of very serious and very dark subjects - teen suicide, bullying, homophobia, abuse, internet predators - but does so without ever becoming a depressing read. On the contrary, this novel, about two brothers struggling to find themselves in the face of intense pressure to match up to others' expectations, is filled with hope and humor. The twins at the heart of the story both evince an incredible amount of courage as they fight to define and embrace what will make them happy, and the overall message is inspiring.
Mia Siegert has an incredible handle on the kind of everyday psychological brutality that teenagers endure at the hands of fickle friends and oblivious parents, and on how the instinct for self-sabotage can be irresistible when you're already hurting. She has, as well, an uncanny ability to make even these painfully familiar horrors of adolescence somehow so emotionally satisfying that you can't wait for the next one to rear its head. Even when I was cringing and sweating and silently screaming at JERKBAIT's villains in my mind, I could not. Stop. Reading.
What is arguably the most important aspect of Siegert's work, however, is the spotlight it throws on the plight of gay athletes, particularly at the high school level. In an environment where the performance of masculinity is tangled up with a million other bits of codified repressive social behavior, and where teen boys police each other ruthlessly and sometimes violently, the risk of depression and self-harm is excruciatingly high. I sincerely hope that this book finds its way into the hands of every gay high school athlete, so that they might know they are not alone.
I'm very pleased with how much I ended up liking this book! Tristan was a really likeable main character, and I was especially fond of him because i'm a sucker for wallflower protagonists who observe and rarely devote to the action or conversation unless there's a necessity to. In this particular case, a story about a boy watching the unfolding drama of his twin brother coming out as gay in a sports world, it was even more interesting. The dynamic between Robbie and Tristan was so believable and touching. Furthermore, I think this may be one of the most realistic books I have read on teens in high school. From the events to the dialogue to the bullying, everything is realistically without exaggeration, and it was enjoyable. Sometimes the dialogue had its corny moments, and sometimes Tristan would make blatantly unwise decisions, but it was still really easy to get into the characters' heads and see why they do what they do. I love that this book plays around with gender stereotypes, homophobia, and even racism. It's a very diverse read that I think is really important for teens to be reading. The only downfall, I think, is that the climax is a bit random. There wasn't enough development of the particular conflict that occurred, otherwise it might have been more interesting and shocking. But besides the lackluster and somewhat random ending, it still left me very satisfied and I would recommend this to anyone searching for a very emotional book about brotherhood, depression, and LGBT rights.
i feel off about such abusive parenting being not fully addressed.
and the "twin telepathy" thing that started happening toward the end of the book was so completely out of nowhere and jarring that i couldn't help but laugh. like, what, was that.
it was nice enough for robbie to get a happy ending with the boy he liked but that also came out of nowhere.
actually yeah i think that's a running theme throughout this entire book, like, tristan's best friend heather just randomly transforming into this hideous monstrosity of a person. it was over the top in and of itself but mostly because there was no motive behind it??? people don't just act that evil for no reason. there were /hints/ of her being a manipulative and jealous person and if that had been explored in any sort of depth that all maybe her mustache twirling villainy would have been believable.
and there was robbie's violent outburts toward his brother that were also just brushed off like idk it's like the author was just introducing all this super weird dark shit and then being like : ))) the end :))) everyone happy now :))))) but that's not how the force works. things need to be ADDRESSED. and like, PROCESSED, and DEALT WITH, and RESOLVED, like....in the narrative.
So, JERKBAIT was one of my most anticipated 2016 releases. And it’s kind of ironic, because the main characters in the book are hockey players, and I’m a Canadian who knows nothing about hockey. What I was more interested in were the themes in this book, especially how gay athletes are treated in this sport. I wanted to see how the author, Mia Siegert, portrayed this treatment through her characters.
What I got was a book that’s bold, brave, and unflinchingly honest. A book that’s also sensitive and made my heart ache. A book that has catapulted itself to one of my favorite 2016 YA reads. In JERKBAIT, Mia Siegert handles so much so well. Twin brothers Tristan and Robbie are both hockey players, but Robbie is the superstar—he’s the one who is guaranteed to be a draft pick and has a bright, shiny future ahead of him in the NHL. So when Tristan finds his brother in the bathroom after a suicide attempt, he has no idea why Robbie would try to end a life that’s only just beginning. Tristan wants Robbie to get help, but their parents don’t want to do anything that would damage Robbie’s potential—which includes admitting his depression. Reading this made me unbearably sad. Robbie is put on such a pedestal, but really, his life on skates is all anyone but Tristan seems to care about. People want to be part of Robbie’s glory, to live in his orbit, to reach greatness with him—but they have no clue how dark it is inside his head.
I don’t want to say too much and give anything away, because this story goes a lot of places, some of which I did not expect at all. Issues like bullying and Internet predators are explored, and Mia Siegert isn’t afraid to go there and get ugly, get dark. As a reader, I appreciated her honesty. As a writer, I was in awe of her talent.
I was so invested in Tristan and Robbie as characters. Tristan is trying to forge his own path—while he’s good at hockey, it’s not his passion, and he’s interested in trying out for musical theater, despite the flack he gets for admitting it. Robbie absolutely loves the game, but everything is tainted for him because he doesn’t feel like he can be the person he really is—he’s terrified that coming out will ruin his career before it even starts. That he even feels he has to choose between doing what he loves and being honest with himself is heartbreaking. He’s a different person in public than he is behind closed doors because he thinks he has to be. The scenes where Tristan and Robbie are able to relate to each other and summon the courage to defend each other made me want to get up and cheer. They’re more than characters to me. They’re real people. I’m sure that so many athletes in real life will be able to relate to them and their struggles. These readers will be able to see each other in Tristan and Robbie and hopefully gain strength because of it.
I want this book to find its way into the hands of teen athletes everywhere, no matter what their sexual orientation. The words between these pages are an important lesson. Electric and explosive, yet soft and nuanced, JERKBAIT is a powerhouse of a debut that is bound to leave a mark on the world of YA lit.
Whoa boy, okay. I don’t know where to start with this. I expected something else from this, and I didn’t get it. It sounded like something I would like but a terrible main character and other plot elements resulted in the opposite.
You know what one of my least favourite things is? When a characters struggles is shown from an outsider’s perspective. Especially when it’s the focus of the story. The book doesn’t feel like Tristan’s story, it was Robbie’s. I didn’t give two damns about whether Tristan got the girl he liked or how theatre went. I cared where Robbie’s mental health was and how he was coping with his sexuality. Not Tristan, who seemed to care more about having to share his room with Robbie than the fact that Robbie almost killed himself. He was honestly terrible, is it really too much to share a room with your brother to make sure he’s safe?
The book should’ve been told from Robbie’s pov, no questions asked. We don’t find out he’s gay until about half way through the book. The book implies this is a large reason for his struggles but it’s never explored enough. Because, again, it’s not from his POV. Instead we get a lot of Tristan receiving homophobia. Which is another thing I hate. It almost had a tone of “the gay likes hockey! the hetero likes theatre!” Every other gay character shown (all two of them) are portrayed as really flamboyant and it had a negative tone to it.
What cemented my dislike of Tristan was that he “accidentally” outed Robbie to their parents. He already knew they could be homophobic but he didn’t anyway. It wasn’t addressed enough in my opinion afterwards. Overall, it was a disappointing read that could’ve been improved by a pov change.
Well, I'm a Rangers fan. And you see the rating. That's how great this very Devils-centric book is.
This is essentially a very painful book about two brothers who are both trying to find themselves and come to grips with their identities. To boil it down to the basics, Robbie is gay and anxious about coming out in a sports environment, and Tristan doesn't want to play hockey at all and would rather do theater.
They have little in common, but as the book progresses their bond really strengthens and it's so beautiful to see. I cried ONCE (SHOCKINGLY since I thought I would cry several dozen times) You kinda want to hug them both for the entirety of the novel.
This was also a surprisingly funny book. Tristan made for a charming, but flawed, narrator, and there were quite a few laugh out loud and feel-good moments to balance the emotional stress I was experiencing.
Siegert tackles so many important topics: suicide, bullying, homophobia, shitty overbearing sports parents, etc etc. You'll end up having strong feelings towards ALL of the supporting characters too, because it's THAT KIND OF TERRIBLY WONDERFUL BOOK.
I would give it a solid rating of 5 Derek Stepan Playoff Celebrations.
I am weak for sibling, especially twins, stories, and weak for hockey, and enjoy YA with LGBT characters, so even if the summary seemed a bit too overly dramatic for me I decided to give it a shot.
My first impression was right. It's way WAY too dramatic for me. Felt like reading the book equivalent of a teenage soap. It's not so much the depressed, suicidal brother (3 attempts), or the slightly self-centred and neglected other brother. It's not the neglectful, abusive, overly focused on getting their one son into the NHL over getting him help parents. It's not the overly stereotypically backstabbing girl at school. It's not the internet predator that ends up kidnapping (and raping) one of them. It's not the hazing and bullying at school and especially from the other guys in the hockey team over homosexuality. It's not the constant dropping names of music, and technology, and events that feels like it's going to be dated real fast. It's ALL OF THOSE THINGS TOGETHER IN THE SAME BOOK.
Add to that a very average to bad prose, and how I could just not be sympathetic to the narrator at times, and yeah. Definitely Not For Me.
The thing is, though, I read it in two days. It's a fast easy read and I could have stopped at any time but I didn't, so there was something compelling in it, in the end. And it's probably why I give it 2 stars over one. That and because I am weak for sibling and hockey stories.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Tristan and Robbie are identical twin but their twiness (is that even a word? ^^) stop there. Telepathic thinking? Nope! Same interest? Nope! Tristan always been Robbie's shadow; the high school hockey star. Tristan play hockey as Robbie's winger but he always have his own dream: star of Broadway. And when Robbie tried to kill himself, their parent put them together in one room. The message was clear: Tristan have to look after Robbie. But how can Tristan help Robbie if they're been stranger to each other?
Despite my 3* rating, I really did enjoy this story, 350 pages and I devoured in two sitting. Like I said before, I love reading about family, tho family here wasn't something that left you with warm feeling at first, but they came around in the end. The thing is some part of this story were too comical and black-and-white. The scene when Tristan's father talk on him to take the fall was like something Jim Carrey did in his movies. I was like "really?! Is this story meant something to be comedic?". And Heather, she's been Tristan's close friend for four years and suddenly she's turn into back-stabber friend. There's must be some quality of hers that Tristan befriended her for 4 years.
Up until 75% of this story, I have to endure with most of characters' shittyness. Parent sucks, friends sucks, Tristan and Robbie were on their own. It took some creeper from the internet to finally made them come around.
Well anyway, I'm looking forward for another story from this author.
I couldn't put this book down! The story of two hockey-playing brothers, Tristan and Robbie, this book deals head-on with the issue of gay athletes, the stereotypes associated with sports & artistic endeavours. This book is a rollercoaster ride, and our hearts break for the two brothers, who initially not close at all, are thrust together after a suicide attempt. But should one brother be his brother's keeper? And if the students in their school are bigoted, they pale in comparison with the boys' parents who have invested everything in achieving a certain end at all costs. I actually know some hardcore hockey parents who live vicariously through their junior league hockey children, and while this may some far-fetched, it is actually pretty accurate. This book is all greys and nuance - the characters are three-dimensional and often do things we don't want them to do. Such an amazing debut and a book that deserves widespread distribution. I loved these boys and am still rooting for them!
One of the best things about Jerkbait was that while it was dark and raw, it was also hopeful and witty -- oh, and super gay! I really enjoyed the look at how young sports athletes feel pressure to be The Best™ and To Succeed™. I also really liked that Tristan was trying to figure out his own shit while also helping Robbie deal with his. I loved how family dynamics were shown in this one.
I loved the writing style. It was so easy to be in Tristan's head and understand his thoughts -- and also why he couldn't quite understand what Robbie was going through. I feel like it was really well done. I also really enjoyed that we were in Tristan's head because I have read a lot of books being in the head of the closeted person who wants to come out but can't and, because we got to see Robbie from the outside, it allowed us to see him as a person before seeing him as his sexuality.
I have like nothing but praise for this one, tbh. I really enjoyed reading it and I would recommend it to everyone. The only thing I was meh about was the because I thought it was a bit hokey. But it wasn't enough to really take away from my reading, especially since this happened really only at the end.
Pick this one up folks! I really enjoyed it and think everyone will as well.
Jerkbait could have been a really good book...it tackles some important issues like attempted suicide, trying to cope with coming out and letting the world know you're gay, being gay in sports. Those are all really important issues that I applaud the author for trying to taking on.
I think the book got lost in the muddle of too many issues because there was also drama with Robbie's twin Tristan. It was just to much for one book. The other thing that kind of turned my nose up was the weird ass parents. Who the heck acts the way those two did. I guess it could happen it just felt odd. That and Tristan's friend Heather went from BFF to enemy number one without a real reason. WTH?! I read between the lines but it was still confusing.
I really think if the book was thinned out a bit it could have been a very good story. It definitely was not boring I'll give it that, just loaded down with too much going on.
This book gave me so much feels. Motsly angry. Angry at their parents. Heather that bitch omg screw u angry at the people around them. The bullies. Etc etc. And i was sad too. Its like i want to hug Roddie and tell him everythink will gonna be okay everytime that thing happened and tell Tristan that hes the best people i know. I really like when hes angry after his mom asked Robbie to say that him being gay is just a lie. And hurayy, Heather deserve that lmaao. Im still didnt believe she did that to Tristan like are u kidding me? And Its really a good read, included sport issues that always caught my attention to read those kind of book, so 4 stars for this one.
Very powerful book that deals with issues such as rampant homophobia and suicide, well written especially considering this is the author's debut novel and with well defined characters. Sadly the story starts to drag around the middle and then becomes mostly implausible. Had the author chosen to stay on the path she was on at the beginning, this would have been a sure winner. As it is, 3 stars is all I'm willing to give it.
I finished this book in two big sittings because I just didn't want to put it down. Lots of themes deeply explored here: coming out, bullying, stereotypes, and authenticity. When I read the description, I was like, hm, hockey? I know nothing about hockey, but this book highlights so many important YA topics and does so in a way that anyone can appreciate (I loved all the musical theater stuff.... a lot.) A few odd things-- the ending twist threw me for a loop-- but over all, a great book about brothers (not enough of those) coming to terms with identity and their futures.
Right now I'm looking very hard for reasons why I shouldn't just give this book 5 stars and be done with it. Is it flawless? No. Are those flaws good reasons to lower my rating? Also no. Because I just loved this book so very much. So 5 stars it is.
After a slur of disappointing and pretty-good-but-not-great books, I really needed a book that just blew all of them out of the water. I needed something great. I should've known that a LGBT book would do the trick. They usually do for me. But this one, this one is special. Is it on Simon VS level? No. But I don't think any book can reach that one for me. But Jerkbait does deserve a spot on my all-time faves list right next to it and The Serpent King. Because that's how much I loved it. Now maybe I should tell you why, huh?
First off, this is a debut novel. No, correction. This is an impressive debut novel. Because it handles SO many tough topics and does it effortlessly. This book touches on things like
teen suicide, bullying, homophobia, abuse, internet predators
,... But they never make the book feel too heavy or sad. And I applaud Mia for that because that's a very hard thing to do. The writing is great. The conversations feel natural and real. I was SO excited to read this book and I'm glad I was finally able to. I can't wait to see what this author brings us next.
Let's talk characters, shall we? Before I jump to my favorites, I have to note some things that kind of irked me. Robbie & Tristan's parents were absolutely horrible like 80% of the time. They ignored some pretty bad stuff for the sake of Robbie's career. And I just feel like they made a complete 180 quite suddenly near the end. It just felt weird to me. I hated Heather and I want to punch her so hard. I loved the friendship between Craig and Tristan, totally a BROTP for me. But I wished I'd seen more of Craig, same with Raiden. I also loved Keisha. Her romance with Tristan was unexpected but executed very realistically and it just felt very natural.
Did I get everyone? Okay. Now the twins. I adored these two. Robbie and Tristan are twins, but they're very different from each other and they don't have much of a connection at first. I loved seeing how they grew together and how they bonded throughout the story. And I was absolutely giddy to see how connected they were by the end of it all. This made me want to have a twin, which I think is not possible anymore by now. Anyway. Tristan was the perfect choice to tell this story. At first I kinda wanted a second POV, Robbie's, but at the end I think it was good that it's only Tristan's. Because I loved going through this story with him and a second POV would probably have weighed down this book. But man, that cafetaria chapter around the middle. That got me. I was full on crying, tissues in hand. So be warned.
In the end, Jerkbait is one of my highlights of the year so far, which I'm insanely happy to say because Mia is awesome and I love her. I highly recommend this book if you love YA Contemporary. So go read it at your earliest convenience.
JERKBAIT is a book I’ve been looking forward to reading for quite a while – and I’m happy to report that it totally lived up to my (high) expectations! It’s a serious book that tackles a lot of very serious issues, but it is also very easy to read, which was obviously achieved by some kind of sorcery (I’m on to you, Mia).
The protagonist is Tristan, and he’s VERY likeable. He’s witty, a bit nerdy, and he has big dreams, so he’s my favourite kind of contemporary protagonist. Even though Tristan is the only character who gets a POV, this is the story of both Tristan and his twin brother, Robbie.
Ohh, poor, poor Robbie. While reading, I could seriously feel all the pressure that was being put on him by almost everyone in the novel – so I could totally understand why he was starting to buckle. He’s attacked on multiple fronts, and Tristan is one of the very few people (possibly the only one) who truly supports him.
This lead to a really interesting/engaging relationship between the brothers. In fact, the exploration of the relationship between the brothers is a big part of the reason I liked this book so much. Stories about brothers seem sort of uncommon in YA (at least it is in the YA that I've read) so I found this really refreshing and interesting. More brothers in YA, I say!
Overall, this is a great, thought-provoking novel, and I can’t wait to read more from Mia Siegert!
The book was ok, I had some small, easy to overlook, issues with the book (I don't care who is saying it "rainbows, unicorns, and lisps, oh my" was not an appropriate way to describe another human being...), but it was a relatively enjoyable story.
Till the end that is.
I would have given the book 3 stars if not for the last couple chapters, but those last chapters completely ruined it for me. 2 stars might even be too nice.
JERKBAIT was a pleasure to read. Tristan's character struggles with protecting his troubled sibling, dealing with his overbearing parents, and choosing his own path. The story is an honest portrayal of the homophobia in sports and the consequences of being ostracized and bullied.
(CW: sexual assault mention; some spoilers but honestly you shouldn't care because you could read literally any other book instead of reading this one, so I'm doing you a favor)
This book was like an episode of Degrassi but with none of the good parts. No one in this entire book had a personality. There was an exceptionally poorly-executed Tragic Gay storyline involving the protagonist's twin brother that read like a 90s after school special, but with no resolution or dealing with the trauma. Oh, and random ass twin telepathy added in the last 15% of the book that had some vague foreshadowing but still made no sense, especially as they had never been close.
Basically, don’t waste your time. There are a billion better queer books without a super random kidnap-and-rape the queer kid to make the (straight) protagonist have ~feels~ subplot thrown in at the end.
Also, it’s supposed to take place 2015/2016ish but the protagonist’s twin brother ends up meeting a predator in a literal internet chat room and he talks to him via AIM. In the same book Tumblr, Facebook, and Snapchat are mentioned. Who has even used a chat room after like 2002? Do 18-year-olds now even know what chat rooms were? Why would an 18-year-old even have AIM now? I feel like that’s not a thing.
This Friday, I received an Advanced Release Copy (ARC) of Mia Siegert’s JERKBAIT, which will be released by Jolly Fish Press on May 3, 2016. I finished it on Saturday morning. This is because JERKBAIT, while extremely dark and violent in many respects, is an incredibly fast read with a compelling story that is hard to put down. It touches on many important subjects, like bullying, LGBT rights and issues, coming-of-age experiences, and family relationships. As I read it, I thought of the wonderful Matthew Quick’s work (SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK).
JERKBAIT is told from the point of view of Tristan, the twin brother of Robbie. Both boys play hockey, but Robbie is the star; and Tristan has lived in his shadow for the boys’ entire lives. The situation is worsened by their parents, whose absolute first (indeed, only) priority is maximizing Robbie’s chances of being drafted to his father’s choice college team.
Tristan’s resentment of Robbie is passive until Robbie overdoses and their parents force the boys to share a room. Believing that the incident is accidental, Tristan resents the new arrangement. He also resents his parents’ insistence that he “watch” Robbie, especially since he finds himself gravitating away from hockey and toward musical theater. He’s a natural, and if his parents hadn’t been so focused on Robbie and Robbie’s hockey career, Tristan might be on track for Broadway. Now, he must make up for wasted time.
Living with Robbie makes Tristan connect with his brother in a way he never has before. He learns that Robbie isn’t the happy, socially adjusted kid he is on the surface – he is dark, brooding, and emotionally isolated from his peers. Meanwhile, Tristan becomes even less enchanted with hockey and storms off the team. Now, he can finally focus on musical theater.
When another athlete accuses Tristan of being gay and attacks him. Robbie fights back and reveals his own secret to the entire cafeteria that holds witness: “Some straight guys like musicals. And some gay guys play hockey.”
Robbie tries to commit suicide again, and the parents react by refusing Robbie help because of the risk of making him appear to be a liability to hockey teams. Instead, they force Tristan to tail Robbie, to give up his lead in the musical to monitor Robbie during hockey practice, and resolutely refuse to acknowledge the real reasons Robbie hurts. This means that the brothers have to deal with the situation together if Robbie has a chance of surviving. This is a haunting, fast-paced story of two brothers caught in a nightmare, and I found myself turning the pages to make sure they got out alive.
By way of criticism, I will say I had trouble reading certain passages. It had nothing to do with the writing or the plotting – it was because the book deals with some bleak issues. It also features some truly heinous people, including a self-centered theater diva who taunts Robbie for his suicide, clueless parents, and an Internet troller.
While I had some issues with these characters – I had particular trouble believing that parents would be that blind or that Tristan’s theater friend would be that heartless – I suspect that this may be because I didn’t grow up dealing with these kinds of issues or people. The reaction of the characters by and among one another was believable; and the story made me root for Tristan, Robbie, and everything they stood for.
Even better, it caused me to think about what they stand for, and I have no doubt that this book will make many others do the same.