Atom Heart John Beloved - Luke Hartwell ***
This will likely be a very polarizing book. Don't go in this looking for a traditional romance. It's just what the blurb says, an.... incredibly honest, sometimes downright disturbing, portrayal of a straight boy, John, struggling to deal with his burgeoning love for his best friend Nathan who he decides to let 'use' him. But that's just the very basis of the story.

John is an unlikeable guy. He acknowledges it. He knows he has deep feelings for Nathan, but he also knows he is not attracted to any other guy, so something is still holding him back from fully committing. He submits only to Nathan, he keeps up his relationship with Mary, not to mention his one-night stands. And then there's Brian.
Who I won't say anything about, except that I'm still feeling taken aback at the twisted turn this story took near the end. I wouldn't characterize this as YA.

Like I said, John is an unlikeable guy. But I couldn't really bring myself to hate him. For all his claims of being a 'stud', a 'player', it all sounds incredibly hollow. You see just how low he thinks himself to be, haunted by a past regret, feeling lost and shameful and guilty and tempted by a desire for humiliation. Believing that's what he deserves. He feels unworthy for Nathan, and at times you will also wonder why Nathan is willing to put up with so much. I think that's because he can see all the self-doubts and self-proclaimed ugliness in John and his genuine love for Nathan regardless. He's just scared.

The dialogue is just sometimes awkward and a little unbelievable (in the sense that you wouldn't really expect guys to talk like that). Even though it does deal with very difficult themes yes, child abuse, rape.

I'm glad I read this, and so would encourage anyone who is intrigued but reluctant, even though I don't see myself re-reading this in the future.
Even though I can't say I enjoyed this book, I did become absorbed with John's voice, his story, and I couldn't put this down until I finished the entire 4.75 stars.