Last night I read Haru to Aiden. I see that since I picked the book up in December of 2019, it’s gotten a new cover (several, it seems) and the author, Alexia X., is now going by Alexia Praks. However, I’m going to stick with the cover I have because that means I read an X-authored book for my yearly Author Alphabet Challenge. I would normally call this cheating, except that I honestly didn’t know about the name change until I went to download the cover to write this post. So, I legit thought this was an X-book when I decided to read it. I’m running with it.
Eighteen-year-old Haru Ono has been in love with his stepbrother Aiden Davis since he was in middle school. Trying to keep his feelings under wraps is annoyingly hard when they’re living under the same roof in such close proximity, more so since Aiden is so caring and selflessly showers him with kindness.
Haru knows that family is important to Aiden, who has been shouldering the burden of raising five younger siblings, and it’s best Haru never reveals his feelings to Aiden. Then again, an eighteen-year-old boy with raging hormones can only bottle up so much until everything starts to burst.
I think this book will have a very select and limited audience, but that audience will likely love it. I found myself not hating it, but not loving it either. There was a time I was very into Yaoi (and if you don’t know what that is, probably don’t blindly pick up this book) but maybe I’ve outgrown it. I think being an existing fan of the manga style/genre is probably a prerequisite to enjoying this light novel, which is essentially a Yaoi manga in literary format. And here starts my issue.
I don’t think it works as well as a novel as a visual media. I just don’t. So, there’s that. I also thought the whole thing read like it was written by a 15-year-old fujoshi, especially the sex scenes, which were exceptionally cringy. It was surprisingly well-edited. Not perfect, but not the hot mess you’d expect if Alexia X. really was a 15-year-old otaku.
I did appreciate Haru and Aiden’s struggles, though the plot progression has been lifted from a million other similarly themed manga. Plus, the support of all the other brothers and friends was lovely. I did have to wonder how the two kept it a secret from each other when so many other people seemed to know. All in all, I’m not regretful to have read it (especially since it means I can mark an X-authored book of my yearly author alphabet challenge) but I’m not in any rush to read any more of the series either.
It’s also worth noting, in case anyone uses this as a gateway to further Yaoi that, while this book is very careful to ensure we know Haru is 18 (the Western age of consent), many of the manga written originally for non-western audiences don’t make this consideration. So, the whole genre could be considered super problematic by American standards. Just know that going in, so you’re not shocked.