Review Plateau: @KDSarge's Captain's Boy

I've been saying that I want to review some books here, because I have friends and they have written books. And if I review their books, maybe they will review mine. Review exchanges are nice like that. So, first up is Captain's Boy by KD Sarge. What does KD Sarge write? From what I've seen, gay romance with a character who's a fucking smart-ass and has a deviant sense of justice.

I will spoil as I see fit, especially to make a point, so if you don't want that, don't read from here. Additionally, I also talk about fairly well known plot points of ST:ID and The Wolverine. Again. Spoilers. Beware.

The cover is a clothed teenage male (so it looks) with a woman hanging off him, wearing heels and what appears to be a nightie.

I'm pretty sure I liked the cover when I first saw KD reveal it. And when going through her archives (I've been doing blog catchups with friends' blogs), I said it was awesome. I feel like a bitch—it is an awesome cover, in terms of the design and final product. My good friend Anna Landin did the cover, and she did an awesome job of it. Obviously I don't know what she charged and it's none of my business anyhow, but I think she undercharged.

But… now that I'm sitting down, and the 'wow' factor of the artwork has worn off?

I dislike the cover.

Star Trek: Into Darkness had Kirk look at Carol Marcus when she was changing for… what? Just so we could see Alice Eve's boobage by all accounts. The Wolverine has come under similar criticism because of Jean Grey appearing in nighties—except I would say it's undeserved. Carol's scene has no logic, no reason at all except to excite the audience. Whereas: Logan is struggling to deal with Jean's death and hallucinates/dreams about her. He was interested in her as a partner, so I think it's expected he would think of her in nightwear. Perhaps she should have worn more, but that's a different argument in my opinion.

And just on initial feeling… the cover, if I was seeing this in a store… I wouldn't buy it. The cover and title combine to imply that this older woman seduces a younger man. That's fine by me. I generally think people can and should do whatever they want, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. People huffing about their sensibilities being offended is not 'hurt'.

But when I compare it to the blurb, the cover makes no sense to me; it's more Alice Eve than Wolverine.

Fifteen chapters. Sounds like a quick read. For me.

…I'm confused. If Jordan and Donte are working from a paper notebook because Jordan's aunt sold the digital workpad and stylus, where did the tablet and stylus come from in the next paragraph?

That aside, KD's start is very good. A math tutoring session is boring to an extent, but there's a bully, a wish to be in space, and a mention of a weird place name. Whilst this may be a culture not so removed from our own as evidenced by the math tutoring and the bully, KD's already established that this is a different time, different universe. I'm working on the Smashwords Kindle edition. All of that was on the first page of chapter one.

The bully is… I really hope he's just a character to establish Donte's fighting skill.

And now we meet Selene. From her description, I assume she's the woman on the cover, and I furthermore assume the man is Donte. Selene is… deftly conveyed. The outfit she's wearing when we meet may be just for the coffeeshop, but it's clear that Selene knows what she's got and how to show it off. She's also level headed, take-charge and intimidating. I like this. Selene seems like a girl who knows she's a girl, and hasn't sacrificed that to earn a reputation, as might be common in our own society.

…well… I guess that puts the cover in perspective, but… I think we may have to disagree on that.

Donte on the other hand seems far more relaxed and laid back. Considering as I get a superior/subordinate vibe so far from them, I think this would make sense. Whatever their professional relationship (it does not seem they have much of a personal one so far), as the subordinate, Donte just has to do what he's told without messing up. Seems logical to me that he'd be more laid back.

Donte seems to have a working grasp of sarcasm. Or not. I can't quite tell. He might just be the type to agree.

He does however have a defensive streak a mile wide when it comes to Selene. Hee! And a healthy dose of paranoia.

Good character insights in the first chapter, but I wonder why Donte is this way.

…KD has this talent of writing characters whom I want to punch in the face.

Okay, I did not see Selene's implied profession coming. Still, it's about time we learned something of Selene, and we are treated to quite a bit of Selene's life. It's not hard to see where she got her kickass attitude.

Apparently the Spanish/Mexican? culture is still alive and strong… which makes me wonder: is this the future, or an alternative universe, or both in some respect? Yes, I'm rather picky; the time/period of the story is something I like to know for sure, without having to figure it out. KD has established it's a different time/universe, but hasn't explicitly said much…

…I find it a little weird that Selene speaks in Spanish and then speaks in English to translate it. Maybe I'm just used to people who speak in one language, and if you don't know, tough luck.

KD is obviously a believer in "for every gain, make it worse". Which does make for a good read.

Donte and Selene have gone into space, and yet KD doesn't falter. The way the ship runs—and will run—is imparted to us, but without feeling clunky or shoved in haphazardly.

…what ARE the odds that they would find a Marcori-worshipper?

Donte had written of the first time he met Captain Marcori. Selene didn’t even finish reading before calling it garbage, and it was, really. Flat and boring. For one thing, he had no clue how to convey the complex and wonderful person that was Captain Marcori. For another, he’d had to leave out the part where she stuck a pistol in his nose.

I like this because it speaks to me as a writer.

…and of course, things go to shit at the most inopportune times. I like that. In fact, KD might just have another side of the blog post I wrote. See, I expect that Donte and Selene will succeed in their task and I won't say that KD is making me think that they won't. She is making me look forward to seeing how they resolve their setbacks, because thus far I haven't felt let down at how things are resolved.

Oh, brilliant. Monkey wrench and then without resolving it, an even BIGGER monkey wrench!

…so if you give up because you're messed up, Donte, where the hell is the rest of the book? Nothing against KD, but this is the problem with killing off the sole viewpoint character of your book at any point before the end—the reader almost instantly knows it can't be 'real'. Selene has been the main female character without a doubt, but shifting to her viewpoint would be a shift that would alter the book.

I also appreciate the realism in her characters. It's refreshingly awesome.

The end of the book trickles into a bit of a political ending of sorts—mainly negotiation type stuff, but even that is handled with the same "things get worse and worse before they get better", so it's rather enjoyable.

And now it is over. I am sad.

I'd give the book nine and a half out of ten.


2 Responses to “Review Plateau: @KDSarge's Captain's Boy”

  1. Anna says:

    As the cover-artist, I should probably step in and explain myself a little.

    The criticism of the cover is entirely valid and a good point – if the cover illustration seems to be selling one thing, while the back cover blurb is selling another, it's going to be confusing. And that's bad.

    I had not read any of The Captain's Boy when I did the illustration – and I still haven't read all of it even now – but KD came to me with a very definite idea in mind, which is what I drew. One thing she wanted and I tried to get across in the body language is that Selene isn't trying to seduce Donte so much as she is deliberately trying to draw attention away from him and onto her – KD described it in her design-brief as "He's mine, but look at me". She's focused on the viewer rather than on Donte, and Donte is distinctly uncomfortable in the situation, etc., etc.

    I suppose I could have done better in communicating that.

    Their choices in clothing (btw, what Selene is wearing isn't a nightie – it's just a sort of frilly sundress) reflect their personalities, AFAIK – Donte wears drab colours and oversized clothes to keep from drawing attention to himself, Selene is more aggressive and WANTS the attention, etc.. It is a bit unfortunate that they also play into rather sexist stereotypes. :T

    • Dianna says:

      …that is a very fair and well reasoned reply, Anna. Way to make me feel like a bitch. *pokes tongue out, smiling*

      In all seriousness, having read the book, your comment on their clothing reflecting their personalities/aims in wearing them is very accurate.

      You did good.

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