Sunday, January 26, 2014

REVIEW: Wallflower by Heidi Belleau

Wallflower (Rear Entrance Video, #2) Wallflower by Heidi Belleau
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I thought this book would be a fun read. I thought WRONG. It was HORRIBLE. I thought, hey, what could go wrong with a main character who is Asian, an art student, and MMORPG addict, a cross dresser, and more importantly, Asian? Represent! Robert sounded like a cool person. Eeeeecccck. Not if he’s an emo. Oh My Gawd was he such an emo.

+ the main character

Robert Ng sucked. Reason number one, he had a Loser Complex the size of a stinking hill of manure. I would have felt bad for him were it not for the fact that the only reason his life was crappy was because he made it crappy. He had no one to blame but himself. He constantly threw one pity party after another. Rarely did his thoughts ever stray from how much he sucked. Honestly, it would have been a miracle if he spent a few seconds to think that other people might have problems too. It would probably blow his mind if he read the news and learned about all the bad things that happen in the world. Robert used up all my patience by chapter two.

Reason number two, his character development was piss poor. Art student, MMORPG addict, and Chinese descent? These traits were window dressings. The reader only ever see him taking one art class, Introduction to Art Principles. While one art class is enough to make him an art student, he was a poor excuse for an art student. He worked in the video store and moped at home more than he ever did anything as an art student. As for the MMORPG part, playing video game a couple times does not constitute a person an “addict,” especially not someone who played two times in the entire story. As for his Chinese background, the main character could have been switched with a white person and it wouldn’t have made a difference. He may have a Chinese last name and Chinese look but other than that, his character was whitewashed.

Reason number three, and this one pissed me off the most, his character was defined by his transgender status. I understood transgender is a big theme in the story, but it came at the cost of developing Robert as a real person. If Robert wasn’t transgender or decided not to be transgender anymore, he would be a nobody in the sense that the trans part of him, his Bobby identity, was the only thing that mattered and without that he’s nothing. Put it another way, it’s kind of like defining a woman by her fertility status. If she can’t pop out a baby, she’s nothing. People are the sum of their parts, and this was forgotten when Robert was developed as a character. The fact that he was an art student, a MMORPG addict, a Chinese-Canadian, a brother, and a son among other things? It was like these things could matter less because whatever.

+ the transgender theme

Ironically, considering the emphasis of the theme, I thought it could have been executed better. Sometimes it came off as the author’s narration instead of Robert’s narration, and it came off as preachy. It was preachy in the sense that the important messages had to be said point-blank because the reader couldn’t be trusted to learn them from the characters’ action. I felt this diminished the impact of the messages.

I also got the feeling that the one of the reasons Robert became Bobby, his female self, was because he was uncomfortable with his homosexuality and needed a safe way to express it. It seemed like half of the time he became Bobby, he flirted with guys or had lusty thoughts about men. After all, it is hard to be rejected or worse, gay-bashed if one is a pretty girl and not a shy weak gay male. Plus, towards the end he didn’t feel the desire to be excessively effeminate when he tried on an androgynous look and didn’t mind being a man for Dylan.

+ the plot

It wasn’t till the middle of the book that the romance finally started and the emo part was put on a break, if only for a few seconds. One thing that jarred me was the weak sense of time. Where did Robert have the time to play video games, go to college, take yoga with his sister, work in a video store, date Dylan, and most importantly, mope? The answer is he didn’t because some of his roles were window dressing. The one part the plot did get right was Robert working in the video store, Rear Entrance Video, which is the name of the series. I get the feeling that if it wasn’t the name of the series, Robert being a video store worker would have been on the wayside along with the other roles.

My least favorite part of the book was the sexual assault. It felt too much like obligatory external conflict and a very cheap way to push the main character into self-reflection and growth. Yay, another book where rape is used as a plot device. /sarcasm. Well, the bright side was that the bad guy got his comeuppance.

Finally, I didn’t care for the smut. If there was anything that could have redeemed the story for me, a smut freak, it would be the smut. While the sexy times were hot, they were on the low side of hot, even with the sexy dirty talk.

+ what I liked

The only part I liked was Dylan. He had issues but he was likeable and very enjoyable to read about. Not to mention his character development wasn’t whitewashed on an oversight. I would like to say Dylan could do better than Robert but that’s only because I don’t like Robert. I hate to admit it but Robert and Dylan do make a good match.


I rate Wallflower 1-star for I didn’t like it. The first half was unbearable to read. The second half was barely tolerable. I would have enjoyed the book if Robert wasn’t emo. Had he been like Dylan was, confident and couldn’t care less about what other people think (or pretend not to care), I would have enjoyed the book. A kickass crossdresser, now there’s a main character I can get behind with.

Goodreads | Amazon

Post a Comment

You can also comment on the Goodreads version of my review. Click on the rating located in the beginning of my review to get to the webpage.