Today I’m finally writing a review after a while! It’s not that I haven’t been reading, but I just haven’t had the time to sit down and write a review, so I’m excited to share this one, especially since I really enjoyed reading this book, Boy Parts.
About the book
Genre: Literary fiction, horror, LGBT+, adult
Representation: Bisexual main and secondary characters, transgender secondary character, lesbian secondary character
Content warning: Eating disorder, gore, manipulation
Summary: Irina obsessively takes explicit photographs of the average-looking men she persuades to model for her, scouted from the streets of Newcastle.
Placed on sabbatical from her dead-end bar job, she is offered an exhibition at a fashionable London gallery, promising to revive her career in the art world and offering an escape from her rut of drugs, alcohol, and extreme cinema. The news triggers a self-destructive tailspin, centred around Irina’s relationship with her obsessive best friend, and a shy young man from her local supermarket who has attracted her attention…
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Boy Parts had been on my radar for a few months, and despite not knowing all that much about it—I usually tend to prefer going into books blind—I knew that this was going to be a dark read following a erotic photographer, a mixture that sounded very appealing and interesting. I actually read this as an audiobook, which is also narrated by the author, on a whim and truly enjoyed it. This is a character study focusing on our protagonist, Irina, and it is also very disturbing read at times, all things that I’m a big fan of.
To be fair, when I started listening to Boy Parts, I wasn’t so sure I would end up liking it. The protagonist, Irina, is extremely unlikable, she’s a narcissist who treats everyone around her badly, but despite all this she turned out to be quite fascinating, so I went from not being sure I’d enjoy it to listening to two hours of it at night refusing to go to bed because I was hooked. I actually finished this in under 24 hours because I simply couldn’t stop listening. Eliza Clark also does a fantastic job with the narration, as Irina truly sounds obnoxious and unpleasant, which might be slightly harder to get into, but adds more to the overall story.
Secondly, this is by no means a fast-paced story, so it might not be to everyone’s taste. We just follow our protagonist going through her archives as she prepares for an exhibition. So, we’re basically stuck in the head of this twisted narcissist for over 300 pages, and it’s a ride. We see her interact with many different people in her life, from her parents to her friends, to random interactions with strangers. We also see the types of relationships she establishes with her models and how she prepares the photographing sessions. If you like character-based books, I believe this might be one you will enjoy.
Now, without spoiling anything, I will tell you that if you’re squeamish at all, I cannot highlight enough that you should beware. I usually have no trouble reading dark books but some parts of this were deeply unsettling, so tread lightly. This story gets increasingly distressing, and it happens in a way that you’re barely aware of it. I do not want to go into it too much since I believe it’s better to have no context for it to hit the reader as intended, but obviously, if you need more specific content warnings, make sure to get the full list (message me if necessary).
All in all, this was a fantastic read that I have a feeling I’ll be thinking about for a long time. This dark story does a great job of easing us into some deeply uncomfortable territory without us really noticing.
About the author
Author, screenwriter, natural blonde.
Not the Canadian one.
Had you heard of this book? Are you interested in reading it? Do share your favourite dark reads!