All The Colors of Love
Title : All The Colors of Love
Author : Jessica Freely
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Science Fiction, YA
Length : 240 pages (e-book)
Published : September 12, 2013
Rating : ★★★
It sucks being the son of a super villain. At home, Harry spends half of his time getting medical treatments and the other half tied up in his father’s underwater lair. It was different when his mother was alive, but she disappeared when Harry was six. He can’t seem to stay out of trouble at school, and his new roommate, Antonin, thinks he’s a spaz, but somehow Harry has to find a way to stop his father’s evil plans.
Antonin Karganilla wants to become a comic book artist, but other than that, being gay is the most normal thing about him. His uncle is an aquatic plant man, his aunt is a molecular biologist back from the dead, and his mom is an overprotective pain in the butt. Antonin’s in boarding school and it’s starting to look like he and this Harry kid might have a lot in common… and that means a whole new set of problems.
When I read the description of All the Colors of Love, it sounded like a fun, light-hearted, super hero and villain story. What I found is much darker. The opening has Harry being transported to yet another boarding school, St. Bartholomew’s. The scene is just a glimpse into what Harry endures. His father is all about business and when Harry ignores a question his father is asking, he has his bodyguard inflict pain on Harry until he does what his father wants. There is no love to be found.
We then meet Antonin. He is coming from a completely different environment. He lives with his mother and chosen family which includes Cid the molecular biologist, Cid’s lover Magnolia, and Tumcari who is an interesting creation resembling a merman but made from a plant. Antonin is loved and cared for. He is looking forward to returning to St Barts, hoping to see Jason, his roommate and love interest. He has not heard from Jason since semester break. Antonin is artistic and loves to draw comics. He has a series he is working on called The Arctic Avenger.
Upon returning to St Barts, Antonin sees an unfamiliar duffle bag on the bunk bed and a punching bag hanging from the ceiling of his dorm room. He notices a Captain Invincible action figure and picks it up, only to find himself in a chokehold and fighting his new roommate, Harry. The Captain Invincible action figure represents more to Harry than just a comic figure and he does not want anyone to touch it. Antonin does not come away with a very good impression of Harry. He tells his friends about Harry and coins a nickname for him, Hairy Fits. The rumors fly about Harry and what happened in his previous schools, and Antonin wonders how this new roommate will work out.
Harry gets into a fight with some of the boys at school and his father threatens to make him come home to stay, indefinitely. Harry is shaken by this and Antonin sees fear in Harry’s eyes. He watches Harry transform from being sullen and aggressive to not defending himself at all. When three boys decide to bully Harry, Antonin steps in to help. Antonin is not a fighter and Harry saves him from getting badly hurt although they both end up bloody and bruised. Harry is sure he is going to be taken home for this incident and prepares to leave but Antonin makes a call to Harry’s father to explain what happened. His father lets him stay if Antonin will keep him out of trouble. This is the start of their tenuous friendship.
Both Harry and Antonin have abusive pasts at the hands of their fathers. Harry is still suffering the abuse and Antonin’s father is dead, killed by his Aunt Magnolia. Their friendship continues to develop and Antonin invites Harry to stay with him and his family for the winter break, which to Harry’s amazement, his father allows. But as it nears time to leave, Harry’s father tells him the real reason for allowing this visit and what he expects him to do, putting Antonin and his family in danger.
I have to admit, All the Colors of Love was not what I was expecting. There are only hints at the amount of abuse Harry has been subject to in the beginning and it is not made clear what makes his father a super villain until half way through the book and then we see that take form in the remaining half of the book. The setting is futuristic with scientist creating androids out of plant materials, and viruses that allow a person to reincarnate into another body, and other gadgets that give it a science fiction feel. Most of the characters have experienced some sort of abuse whether physically, sexually, emotionally, or all of the above; and the dysfunction it causes is shown through the characters’ behavior. These are damaged people trying to cope with what they have endured and not always handling it the best way. Tumcari, the plant man is probably the most well adjusted character in the book; he gives a calming balance to some of the other characters.
I am comfortable with coming of age stories, exploring ones sexuality and experimentation. It is a sad fact that many of us suffer abuse in some form or other growing up. I think what I found uncomfortable was I was not expecting this story to have the kind of violence it did. There is not an easy resolution to these kinds of wrongs and having a setting where the evil villain gets his comeuppance is, as a friend stated, a form of “vicarious vengeance”.
There is a happy ending and I was able to come away with something positive. There are twists to the story and the young man whose father was killed by his Aunt ends up killing a bad guy and admits that he will never ask someone to do something like that for him again. Necessary or not it made him sick and was not as easy to do as he thought. The story also reinforced that just because you have the genetics linking you to someone does not mean you have to be like that person. Although the setting is futuristic, the situations the characters dealt with are very real. The title of the story manifests throughout the book and I loved how Harry used colors to categorize the happy moments in his life.
Rated 3 stars by Deb