Wow. Just... wow. This book is seriously fucking amazing! I picked it up thinking it sounded like a light-hearted m-m-m dystopian with an interesting premise, and I couldn't have been more wrong.
Honestly this book is fascinating. By approaching the ideas of dominance and submission from the unique idea that they've been externally imposed on these men, Ms. Gregg was able to explore both concepts in a way that no other book I've yet encountered has been able to. But it went so far beyond just that.
In the world Ms. Gregg created, and because of the characters we experience it through, Ms. Gregg is able to examine the ideas of dominance and submission as part of a larger exploration of relationships--the give and take, need and fulfillment, fear and comfort that are part every relationship.
Connor is the narrator, and he's what's known as an anomaly--one of the 1/1000 who turned submissive rather than dominant due to the "disaster." Even though the blurb only talks about two men, we basically get to see Connor in relationships with three--he's recently left the man he was with before the disaster. So, through Connor's eyes we get to see him adjusting to his increasing need to submit. We also get to see the different ways the increasing need to dominate has affected the three different men in Connor's life.
Connor's need to belong to someone, to have their acceptance, is heartbreaking at first as neither David nor Emmett is ready to be the person Connor needs. And the scene where David comes home to find what his girlfriend had done to Connor--only to choose her over Connor and kick Connor out of the suite--just KILLED me! However, I love how perfectly that opened the door for me to cheer instead of growl when Emmet swoops in to the rescue.
One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Emmett is trying to teach Connor that it's okay for him to safeword. These quotes are, to me, one of the most beautiful descriptions of what love feels like (or SHOULD feel like...): "Emmett's midnight eyes sparkled with all the approval and caring he'd ever needed.... The sinewy arms wrapped around him were Connor's anchor in a world that didn't make sense anymore and maybe never had."
And yet, there's still so much more that this book has to say! There are incredible insights on politics, personhood, acceptance, personal choice, responsibility, and control.
I think my favorite of these was what the book had to say about accepting the uncontrollable circumstances in our lives while at the same time not letting them control us. Connor sums up part of this perfectly: "What he had been and everything he had dreamed to become collided with the man he was now." And I think that the three men Connor lets us get to know are perfect examples of this. The first boyfriend let his new circumstances be an excuse for him to do horrible things, while both David and Emmett fought the changes happening to them enough to focus on what was best for Connor (although they had very different ideas of what that was--at least at the start).
I also loved how David and Emmett both had insights to share to help the other become more of what Connor needed. And Emmett is just spectacularly good with words. Especially at the end after David encourages Emmett to court Connor, and Emmett ends up unconsciously echoing the fears that Connor has been sharing with us the whole book. Showing that whatever happens to make us want to dominate or to submit, deep down all of us really just want to be accepted and cherished. I love Emmett's words: "Tell me you'll hold me when I feel lost and dead inside, too.... Swear that you'll want me. ME, Connor. And that you'll never, ever let go."
I was just so awed by all of the beautiful and inspiring things that Ms. Gregg was able to fit into this book! This is a remarkable story with beautiful characters and I'm very seriously tempted to re-read it immediately both to spend more time with the characters and to see what else I can learn from it.
Spectacular story; beautiful writing; vivid, breathtakingly real characters set in a fascinating world; I LOVED this book, and again find myself wishing I could give more than five stars!