Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: The Token Yank
AUTHOR: A.J. Truman
PUBLISHER: Truman Books
LENGTH: 268 pages
RELEASE DATE: September 6, 2017
Rafe’s Study Abroad Bucket List:
-Get drunk (legally, for once!)
-Seduce a hot British guy (or five…)
After years of grand romantic gestures that went bust and left him perpetually single, Rafe wants nothing more than to shag his way through Jolly Olde England. He’s vowed to stop looking for romance and enjoy the next three months as the lone Yank in a sea of Brits at Stroude University.
But his “Operation: Slut” mission goes awry when he meets Eamonn. His Beatles-hating, raspy-voiced flatmate shows him a true Blighty adventure, one filled with downing Snakebites, shopping trips to Asda, fist fights, and liberal usage of the c-word.
For Eamonn, helping Rafe is a distraction from the uninspiring future waiting for him and a chance to forget about his ripped-out, stomped-on heart. In fact, Rafe may be the one to put it back together. That is, if the return ticket back to the States doesn’t pull them apart first.
Rafe is off to England! Taking a semester to go study abroad at Stroude University, Rafe is more than a little excited. And not just because traveling to a new country is bound to be an adventure. No, he plans to put an ocean between him and his inability to get laid. It’s a good plan, but standing between him and sucess with Operation: Slut is Eamonn, his flatmate. Because sleeping with Eamonn leads to a whole host of problems–mostly those of the love variety. The very kind of problems that Rafe was trying to avoid. But it’s hard to avoid Eamonn, and Rafe is quickly forgetting why he came to England and is starting to worry about the ticking clock counting down to his departure.
I didn’t know going in that this book is loosely connected to the author’s Browerton University series. Which, to be honest, had I known in advance I might have let someone else review this book because the Browerton books are very hit and miss with me. And yeah, sadly, this one falls more on the miss side.
I knew going in, from the blurb, that anglophile Rafe was going to be a bit over the top, but I was not prepared enough I guess. At first it was a bit humorous, but as the book goes on it gets tiring. Rafe started to come across like the stereotypical Annoying American Tourist. Constantly pointing out how hot the accents were, and how Brits can do things that are not “manly” (ugh, don’t make me rant about the whole “tea is girly” thing) and still seem super sexy, started to come across a bit fetishistic. Like, ok, I think most of the British accents are indeed hot…but constantly pointing it out was weird.
And well, let’s face it, this story kinda feels like it was written by someone whose closest interaction with England is watching Misfits on Netflix. I have no idea if A.J. Truman has been to the UK or not, but the England in the book has a glossy plastic feel to it. Like that in order to make you believe this is set in England, then it must drop as many English buzz-words into the story as possible.
It was also pop-culture heavy. Which might not be a problem for other people, but for someone like me who doesn’t have a fucking clue about those kinds of things…it was distracting as all get-out. And in five years when all these various shows are forgotten, I’m not sure if the book will stand up as well. It is extremely of it’s time (while also somehow managing to not mention Trump, Brexit, and the sure-fire crap-shoot that has to be immigration in both countries). That doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but ten years down the road I’d be interested in seeing if some of this stuff still holds up.
I did like that Rafe attempted to grow up a little by the end of this book, though. It took him a while to get there–and heaven knows he acted like a sex-starved sugar addict for a large portion of the story–but I started to like him a lot more when he started to act like an adult. Eamonn was a bit more a mystery, but I did like his character. I just hoped there would be a bit more growth on page. For a long time he is kinda aimlessly wandering from scene to scene, and he kinda just let things happen to him. Even by the end it felt like he was letting other people direct his choices and choose his paths.
I do wish–and this is more of a general gripe about stories set in university on the whole–that the actual school part of this story was a bit more prominent. Not only would it have been cool to see how Rafe handled the differences between the way the two countries do their schooling, but having a part of the story in the beginning that wasn’t all about SEX! I NEED SEX!! would have been nice. I guess I’m just bored with college kids that treat university like the super expensive social club instead of, you know, a school. It is probably why I have found myself edging away from NA books lately since they seem to carry a lot of the same “me me sex me sex sex sex me booze!” overtones that puts me off YA. And I do get it, classes are hardly the most interesting thing to write about, but writing characters who don’t causally wave off studying as “a waste of time” might be cool.
If I was rating this purely on what I got out of this book, it would probably be a bit lower than the 2.5 stars I ended up settling on. But I kinda realize that at least half the issues I had with this book were more me things than issues I think the general audience will have. And since the blog has settled on 2.5 stars meaning “It is ok,” I think this is decent middle ground between what I was expecting and what the general audience might be looking for. It is a bit too over-the-top, and definitely too pop-culture heavy, for me, but for that might not be a big deal to other people.