Review: "Imagine. It's a normal day at school. You wake up, go to class, learn, repeat. Until one day, everything changes. Jeremy, also known as rem, never expected anything horrifying to happen to him in high school. That is, until he witnessed his best friend Pete be blown to smithereens by Franklin Kettle.
It's now one year later and the anniversary of Pete's death is approaching. The neighborhood friend group, once known as the Boreal Five, is deeply feeling its impact. Especially since Pete's old girlfriend, Alison, is planning a school wide assembly. Franklin was expelled from school but is still nearby. Rem is mom works for a scientific lab, and their new project is Franklin. He is her new test subject for an experimental procedure that's meant to remove his violent impulses. Rem has his doubts. Can what he considers Franklin, evil, really be cured? Rem had no intention of ever speaking to Franklin again, until his mom asked him to come to the lab. Franklin refused to talk to anyone other than Rem, although his reasoning is unclear. Rem understands his mom's career is riding on this experiment, so he goes in to talk to Franklin, even though he's extremely skeptical.
On top of his mother's request to speak with Franklin, Rem is experiencing mixed emotions with his friend Tor. Everyone in the Boreal Five knows Rem is gay, and they are all very accepting, especially Tor. For a while now, Rem and Tor have had intimate encounters together, but Tor also has a girlfriend. Rem is struggling to figure out where he fits in this situation. Besides speaking with Franklin, this is his biggest issue to deal with, until another member of the Boreal Five is murdered. Franklin pleads innocence, but who would believe an ex-murderer? Now Rem must figure out his place in the world, while praying he isn't next on the murder list.
I would recommend this novel to any teen who is struggling with who they are, especially if they identify with the LGBTQ+ community. I believe they will be able to relate to Rem, Tor and Franklin. The author, Tim Floreen, emphasizes the fact that it's important to embrace who you are. He explores three different scenarios through Rem, Tor and Franklin's characters. He describes how they feel, their interactions and the different support systems each character has. On top of creating an inspiring novel for the gay community, Floreen also teaches the importance of forgiveness. He outlines multiple situations where characters can either forgive or forget, and it makes the audience feel as if they were in the character's shoes. Floreen also explores what is considered "evil" and if it can be cured. Although he mainly focuses on Rem's perspective, the audience is put to work developing their own views on the subject. He also reveals how other characters in the novel feel about the situation at hand with Franklin, and whether evil exists. Overall, the novel is well executed and explores many different yet important concepts." Reviewed by Hannah