Fearless, Chris OGuinn
Publisher: Lightbane Publications
Genre: YA, LGBT (G)
Length: 191 pages
Purchase At: amazon.com
“I absolutely love to swim.”
Justin is a freshman in high school, with the only good part of his day being P.E. – where he gets to swim. He has put himself in a self-imposed exile from other people, sick of bullying that he received in his previous school. He’s afraid people will work out he is gay, and with no friends he just dreams of days where he can get through, with no-one screwing with him.
One day in P.E. he is caught looking at Liam, one of his classmates, naked. Instead of doing what Justin expects, and bringing his world back down into torment, Liam plays along, despite being straight. Over the next few days Justin and Liam develop a friendship, after Justin overcomes his aversion and fears to social contact.
Liam takes it upon himself to bring Justin out of his shell, encouraging him to join the school’s swim team and to try talking to other boys he is attracted to. All the while Liam is hiding a secret: he is suffering from leukaemia.
The Good Parts
Deals Well With Cancer
Sometimes when books deal with illnesses or disabilities they can come across as being trivialised, or even used to garner sympathy. Fearless does not do this, and I truly respect the way in which the author dealt with a teen who has suffered throughout his life with such a debilitating disease. Family reactions and the mindset of the victim were very well portrayed. This hit close to my heart, especially as I have lost many family members to cancer.
Good Coming Out Story
Justin comes out twofold in this book. Firstly, he confesses his sexuality to his parents and school. Secondly, he comes out of his self-imposed exile from life in general, becoming more involved in school life, developing friendships and discovering a new potential romance.
All of these outcomes in Justin’s life would not have been possible without the intervention of Liam. The friendship the two of them build is incredibly beneficial to both. Justin is encouraged and supported through a difficult and awkward time in his life, and the favour is returned to Liam.
The story of these two is truly touching, and it was the key reason I enjoyed the majority of Fearless.
The Not So Good Parts
Fearless was very predictable in my eyes, and the end of the first chapter I said to myself, “Pretty sure Liam has cancer,” and I was correct; it took the book six chapters to get to this. Upon coming to this realisation, however, it took me very little time to map out the entire storyline.
I was only confounded by one section in the story, the identity of Hawaii5*9, and even then I had it narrowed down to two people. (For the record it was the person I didn’t want, which did not help improve my opinion of the book.)
Everything’s going ok… everything’s going ok… everything’s going ok… he’s dead. This is the manner in which Fearless ends, and I have to say I was not a fan. People do die suddenly in the world, but it didn’t feel right in this book. Given the pace set out from the beginning of the book this ending did not match the rest of the story. This gave the feeling that the author ran out of ideas, and just quickly finished the book.
I appreciated the core ideas of Fearless and it is for this reason alone that it has achieved its rating. The flaws in Fearless meant that I did not entirely enjoy the book, since I found it highly predictable with a rushed conclusion. However, if one afternoon you are looking for a tearjerker to read and these flaws do not perturb you, then Fearless is the book for you.
“You were awesome.”