First off don't worry if you know very little about Australian Rules Football - to be honest I'm not that interested in sport in general - but an extensive knowledge of the game isn't necessary to enjoy the book. And Sean Kennedy makes it so that doesn't matter anyway, he's able to sum up an entire family's feelings about the game on page 1. He lets you know everything you need to know right at the beginning and to be honest it's much more about individual character's feelings towards the game. I'm sure most of us are fanatical about something, so it's easy to understand the attitudes of the various characters.
The whole thing is told in first person from Simon's point of view, in chapter one we find out everything we need to know about him up to the point just before he meets Declan. I like his voice, he's snarky, sarcastic and self-depracating (three of my favourite s-words). He's not the most perfect hero you'll read, but again I like that, it makes him seem more real. He has a tendency to assume he knows what people mean and does behave like a brat on more than one occasion. (Something which Declan calls him out on).
We're also introduced to Simon's friends and family, especially the close relationship he has with his best friend Roger. And the more problematical realtionship he has with his mother and father. In some ways I think Simon is a little too hard on his parents, it's easy to see why he feels the way he does but I was also left thinking just give them a little bit of a break, they are trying. You see that although Simon is very intellectual, he is also judgmental, but I think (maybe assume) that this is a product of his experiences. When Declan says to him (paraphrasing) 'you have to learn to read around what your dad/mum mean'. It does make Simon think.
I thought that was a nice way of putting it and remembered how my mum had claimed my father worried about me. Maybe Declan was a lot wiser than I was.I enjoyed the way the relationship developed between them. Declan doesn't let Simon get away with stuff.
"...I don't like looking like a dickhead in front of you."The story also illustrates very well the pressure of being in a relationship which has to be hidden, and then dealing with the different pressures once that relationship has been revealed by the media.
"Really? Then you should stop being one."
I wish that all the m/m I read was this well written. The characters were engaging and people that I wanted to get to know. I cared about what happened to them.
This is a first novel so I don't want to be overly picky but I'm going to be honest, there were a couple of things I had issues with. There was a little bit of phrase repetition and in some ways I felt it could have ended about 80 pages before it did. I felt like we came to a conclusion and then started again, maybe this could have been solved by some rejigging of events? Maybe this was also because the last section started several weeks after the conclusion of the previous section.
Apart from those two points, if you like m/m and haven't read this one yet I do recommend you check it out. It will be getting a place on my keeper shelf and I will be looking forward to reading more books by Sean Kennedy in the future.