Book Reviews

Collide by J.R. Lenk at Harmony Ink Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Young Adult / Romance
Reviewed by Jamie Deacon on 24-August-2012

Book Blurb

Being bisexual is cool now—unless you’re a boy. Or so it seems to invisible fifteen-year-old Hazard James. But when he falls in with bad apple Jesse Wesley, Hazard is suddenly shoved into the spotlight. Jesse and his friends introduce him to the underworld of teenage life: house parties, hangovers, the advantages of empty homes, and reputation by association. So what if his old friends don’t get it? So what if some people love to hate him? Screw gossip and high school’s secret rules. There’s just something about walking into a room and having all eyes on him when just last year nobody noticed him at all.

For a while Hazard basks in the attention, and before he realizes the depth of the waters he’s wading, he and Jesse strike up a “friends with benefits” routine. It could be something more, but what self-respecting teenage boy would admit it? Not Jesse—and so not Hazard, either. Not until it’s too late. Hazard and Jesse have collided, and Hazard’s life will never be the same.

Young Adult Age Range: 14 to 18 years old

Book Review

“We all collide”. It may only be a piece of graffiti scrawled on a brick wall, but, for fifteen-year-old Hazard James, it holds a deeper significance. We come into contact with countless people during our lifetime. Mostly these will be fleeting encounters that have little lasting effect, but occasionally, the collision will alter the course of our lives forever. This is precisely what happens in the case of Hazard and bad boy Jesse Wesley


Hazard is a good boy, who hates to be late for school and always does his homework on time. At least, he is until he tangles with the older, dangerously cool Jesse in the school cafeteria. For some reason, perhaps because Hazard stood up to him when so many are afraid to do so, Jesse takes a shine to the younger boy and sets about introducing him to an underworld of parties and drinking where rules cease to exist. Suddenly Hazard has gone from being invisible to the boy everyone stares at when he walks into a room at Jesse’s side, and the feeling of power is as intoxicating as any alcohol.


When, at Jesse’s instigation, their relationship progresses to a “friends with benefits” arrangement, Jesse assures Hazard it doesn’t mean anything. It isn’t as if they’re gay, after all, and they’re certainly not in love. Hazard believes him, so why does it start to hurt so much when they fight, or when he contemplates Jesse ditching him for someone else? By the time Hazard begins to make sense of it all, he’s in too deep. He can either face up to the truth about himself, or turn his back on the boy who has become such an integral part of his life.


I found Collide by J. R. Lenk to be an incredibly honest portrayal of adolescence and all the joy and pain that goes with it. This is a hard-hitting but immensely powerful coming of age story about two damaged boys realizing their feelings for each other and discovering that actions have consequences. Words have the power to wound, and the decisions we make impact not just on ourselves, but on those around us—a lesson both Hazard and Jesse learn the hard way.


I can recommend this to anyone looking for a novel about authentic teens which, although not romanticized in the slightest, will put your emotions through the shredder.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been purchased by the reviewer.


Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 290 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 15-April-2012
Price $6.99 ebook, $16.99 paperback, $16.99 bundle
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