Title: Subject 19
Author: Todd Young
Publisher: Self Published
Length: 119,112 words
Genre: m/m & m/m/m (and more) Contemporary Erotica
Heat: 5 – Off the Charts!
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often (actual sex), Over and Over (or sexual situations)
Keywords/Tags: First Times, Twinks, Slave/Captive, Kink, Medical Kink, Dub-Con (may be considered Non-Con*), Machiavellian Madmen, an Inappropriate Use of Billiard Balls, this book is like being stuck inside of an Escher painting.
Rating: Um… Pretty Good, I think…
**Beware — there are a few small spoilers in this review**
Joel is young and lonely and a little oversexed. When a thief leaves him naked at the beach, he turns to Sean, a striking, dark-haired stranger for help.
Sean offers Joel a towel, and once they get talking, he tells him all about the Umberto Institute, a medical facility where they’re testing a new aphrodisiac. Sean is signed up for a three week, live-in trial.
A new aphrodisiac? It’s not something Joel really needs. But when Sean tells him they’re paying $4,500, he starts to think.
$4,500 and three weeks with Sean? That’s not an offer he can refuse. But once Joel is in the institute, will he ever get out?
I have read one book by this author before, Corrupted, and to be honest it wasn’t my favorite. It’s erotica, as is this, but it was pretty messed up. I mean, I like to read some messed up, but that one I just couldn’t get into. I didn’t even realize it was the same author until after I bought this, but the intriguing blurb and reviews that I read on Goodreads made this seem like a book that just could not be described or categorized. Well, I’m going to try. It was….. *5 minutes later* oh yeah, sorry, can’t do it.
I’ll just tell you what I think, why don’t I? I loved it! I can’t give this that highest rating, because it isn’t perfect and I didn’t love it, love it. But my reading experience was so unexpected and interesting that I can’t help but recommend this to readers interested in something different and not afraid to take the plunge into one acid trip of a book.
The story starts with our narrator Joel at the beach. He’s 19 and finishing up his first year at college. He’s from a small hometown, raised by his aunt after his parents died in a very religious household. Though she’s very loving (almost too loving), Joel is still having a difficult time separating himself from that ultra-religious upbringing and settling into his new life in a city and at college. But, Joel is pretty strange. Though he’s nice and frankly beautiful, he’s oddly inept at making friends. One year of college down, Joel doesn’t really have any friends at all. They all seem to be attracted to him, like bees to honey for his soft beauty, but none of them stick and Joel wonders if he has nothing inside of him, no reason for anyone to stay. His solitude has fed some of his odd idiosyncrasies. Combined with his abnormally large sexual appetite (he’s even hornier than a typical 19 year old man), these have become secret games that Joel plays — jerking off in public places and casually revealing borderline nudity in public — all of them sexual.
It is during one of these games that Joel meets Sean. Wearing nothing but a skimpy white pair of shorts, Joel decides to take a swim in the ocean at a crowded beach. After beating off in the water, he’s a bit embarrassed that his horniness got him into a situation where he now has to walk in front of all the other beach-goers with a hard on in a see through pair or short shorts. The only thing worse than trying to ignore the stares is finding all of his belongings gone — his money, his phone and his extra clothes. Fleeing to the showers, he meets and has an encounter with a beautiful, curly haired guy named Sean, who then offers him the use of his home, phone and shower. While there, Sean tells Joel about a medical study he’s going to participate in. It is only three weeks long, pays $4,500 and is for young men who are abnormally horny. Even better, Joel is excited at the chance to maybe get to know Sean better, and a three week period stuck in the same situation sounds wonderful to him. The other alternative is his return to live with his aunt for the summer.
Joel quickly makes the decision to participate in the study and goes for the requisite tests. A lot happens during this time. He has his first sexual experience with a strange man down the hall from his dorm, he gets blown off by Sean when he wants to see him again, and he finds that though the tests were a little strange, the contact for the study seems on the up and up. Still, he has a strange feeling about it. But getting another chance to see Sean easily sways his decision, and Joel finds himself showing up for the first day of the study to find Sean and the strange man who he was intimate with in his dorm just a few days earlier.
The subjects in the study soon find that what they expected is nothing like reality in the institute. They’re being given medicine that is supposed to increase their sex drives, but it has a stronger effect than expected, and a laundry list of side effects. Really, really severe side effects. Are all of them even being given the drug? While they get to know one another and the conditions of their drug trial seem to affect their behavior, among other things, they soon become like pawns in a game, for a mysterious man’s amusement. Or is that the case at all? And whom is really on whose side? Does Sean return Joel’s feelings?
First of all, though this is erotica and at times I was worried because it started to get kinda dark, it does have a happy ending. It’s really hard to review this book, because it’s so strangely weird I just want to tell you all what happens. I can’t do that (unless you want me to and in that case email me, I’ll spill!), but I can tell you that this went to places I never expected. And there is a relationship here, several of them in fact with all of the different characters who are subjects in the study, they just aren’t the main focus of the story. So while there are parts that are…. somewhat romantic, it isn’t really a romance. In the same vein, though, it isn’t the typical erotica that you’d expect. For most of the book, there isn’t really penetrative sex, and most of the times that it does happen on screen, it isn’t with Joel, our narrator. Most of all it’s just highly sexual and with a lot of sexual tension.
In the end I was really glad that I read this. It was a trip, for sure, and it was a nice change from the status quo of reading romance books. It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure, but if you are at all interested then I say go for it. I couldn’t put it down, mostly just because I couldn’t wait to find out how more outrageous it could get!
*Note: I added the dub-con/non-con/rape tag because there are instances in the book where people have sex with drugged up people, and some people who are out of it. Usually they’re under some kind of influence themselves, if not mind-altering then behavioral. It didn’t really bother me and I found the situation (one specific one I’m thinking of for this tag) to be more in line with dub-con. But that’s semantics, really.
Posted by Cole in 101-125k, 4 Pretty Good, Authors V-Z, Contemporary, Erotica, Heat 5 - Off the Charts!, m/m/m Polyamorous, Sex Freq 4 - Very Often, Sex Freq 5 - Over and Over Again! Tags: Captive/Slave, Dub/Non-Con, First Times, Kink, Machiavellian Bad Guy, Medical Kink, Self Published, Todd Young, Twinks