Review of The Nothingness of Ben, by Brad Boney

Before I begin, let me apologize for not updating recently. As I noted here, I've had houseguests and haven't gotten much reading done.

The Nothingness of BenI bought a copy of The Nothingness of Ben, by Brad Boney.

Description from Goodreads:
Ben Walsh is well on his way to becoming one of Manhattan’s top litigators, with a gorgeous boyfriend and friends on the A-list. His life is perfect until he gets a phone call that brings it all crashing down: a car accident takes his parents, and now he must return to Austin to raise three teenage brothers he barely knows. 

During the funeral, Ben meets Travis Atwood, the redneck neighbor with a huge heart. Their relationship initially runs hot and cold, from contentious to flirtatious, but when the weight of responsibility starts wearing on Ben, he turns to Travis, and the pressure shapes their friendship into something that feels a lot like love. Ben thinks he’s found a way to have his old life, his new life, and Travis too, but love isn’t always easy. Will he learn to recognize that sometimes the worst thing imaginable can lead him to the place he was meant to be?

Review:
There probably won’t be much to this review, but that very lack of detail is as strong a sign of my opinion of this book as a 500 word essay would be. While there was nothing particularly wrong with it, structurally or literarily, there was also nothing in it that particularly appealed to me. I read it to finish it, but that’s about it. At one point, I set it aside because I had houseguests and didn’t get to pick it up for several days. I had already all but forgotten it and it was an effort to make myself start it again.

Mostly, I strongly disliked the main character, Ben. I know he grew throughout the narrative, but I still never came to like him. There were also a number of personal pet peeves that cropped up. There were a lot of television references, for example. I HATE this. You see, I don’t own a television. I haven’t sat down and watched a single television show in years. So, all those witty TV quotes and comparisons to series characters, I don’t get them. My abhorrence of this isn’t just not being in on the joke though. What I hate is the assumption that everyone will be.

People also tended to have really idealized conversations that rubbed me the wrong way and struck me as incredibly unrealistic. The same could be said about the way Ben drew people into his family and then paraded them to all the rich and famous people’s homes. Everyone was just so bloody accepting and accommodating—a bunch of Pollyannas, one and all. In the end it just started feeling cheesy.

The dialogue also used names far, far, far too frequently for my tastes. And I thought the language in the sex scenes uncomfortable. Though, I will admit I thought the amount of play in the sex was appreciable.

So, all in all, this book was a fail for me. I basically just found it clumsy in a lot of general, ill-defined ways. But I’m sure it would work for others.

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