Cover of The Road to Amazing by Brent Hartinger. Two twenty something white guys snuggle in a forest

About the Book

Title: The Road to Amazing (Russel Middlebrook: The Futon Years #3)
Published: 2016

Cover Story: You’re in Love. We Get It.
Drinking Buddy: The Non-Idealized Gang
Testosterone Level: Ahem…
Talky Talk: I Always Cry At Weddings
Bonus Factors: History’s Mysteries, All My Rowdy Friends
Bromance Status: Goodbye, Old Friend

Cover Story: You’re in Love. We Get It.

Yes, handsome guys, I’m glad you found each other. But this cover is essentially the same as the last two books.

The Deal:

So in a romance that started back in the Geography Club, Russel Middlebrook and his boyfriend Kevin are finally tying the knot. Nothing fancy, just a little island wedding in Washington State with a few dozen guests. The boys rent their honeymoon cabin early and invite six of their closest friends to help them celebrate beforehand.

Unfortunately, an unexpected guest arrives: a dead, rotting orca that has washed up near the cabin. The stench makes the entire area unsuitable for the ceremony. With just days to go, the entire party scours the island, dealing with homophobes, a naked commune, rabid bats, power outages, and the weather.

Should the guys cut their losses and get married at the courthouse? Or just light a lot of citronella candles and hope the wind blows out to sea?

Drinking Buddy: The Non-Idealized Gang

Two pints of beer cheersing

Sometimes we tend to idealize our old high school/college crowd, forgetting that we were all just a bunch of drunken idiots. I don’t think Russel will ever have to do this. His guests include Min, the bisexual rocket scientist; her partner Ruby; Gunnar, the mad genius; Nate, Kevin’s sexy Australian ex-roommate; Otto, Russel’s badly-scarred, TV star ex-boyfriend, and Vernie, the seventy-something screenwriter. My only regret is that this is probably the only time this crowd will be together under one roof.

Testosterone Level: Ahem…

While I realize that Russel and Kevin are no longer teens, but about-to-be-married men in their twenties, there were times when this felt a little voyeuristic. Russel’s storytelling tone is one of an old friend relating a funny story, which takes an uncomfortable turn when he’s suddenly describing in detail what he and his husband like to do in bed. Cut to commercial, guys.

Talky Talk: I Always Cry At Weddings

The theme of the book is obvious: the guys stress about pulling off a wedding, when what really matters is that they love each other and have good friends.

But the whole wedding catastrophe thing isn’t as shallow as it seems. Russel states that gay men love weddings more than anyone. He’s fought for years to be an out and proud gay guy, and now it seems the universe is conspiring to deprive him and Kevin of their special day. And Kevin’s sullenness…is it stress or is he having cold feet? Plus both Russel and Kevin have decided to stay happily childless. But then Nate lets it slip that in college, Kevin would go on and on about being a father one day. Is his giving that up for Russel?

While you know the principals will eventually have their happily ever after, it is sort of fun to watch the chaos, while kind of being jealous that you weren’t invited to the pre-party.

Bonus Factor: History’s Mysteries

Nancy Drew creeping up an old stone staircase with her flashlight

Right up the road from the cabin are the ruins of the little town of Amazing, Washington. Nothing left but the foundations. In the 19th century, everyone just suddenly vanished. Alien abduction? Jonestown suicide? Freak weather occurrence? Russel and Min are interested in the truth, but the truth is an elusive little bugger.

Bonus Factor: All My Rowdy Friends

Group of friends having drinks at the night club party

While Russel and Kevin are happy to seal the deal, they do realize this signifies the end of their wild youth. Will they continue to be the crazy boys with stars in their eyes, or become angry old coots yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off their lawn?

Bromance Status: Goodbye, Old Friend

Glad you gents finally tied the knot. But the characters are in their mid-twenties now, so I have a feeling this is our last adventure together. Let’s do lunch sometime…sigh.

Full disclosure: I received a free e-copy of this book from the author, but no cash or Starbucks coffee.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.