Title: Perception: A German Love Story
Author: Mario K. Lipinski
Cover Artist: n/a
Amazon Buy Link:Perception: A German Love Story
Genre: Contemporary YA Romance
Length: Novel/app. 74200 words/281 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: I had some issues with this story, but overall I thought it was a sweet and pleasant read
Marcel Ritter is an excellent pupil at a German school, has two loyal, best friends, and caring parents. Still, his life is far from being perfect. He is the bullying victim of Tim ‘Dumb’ Eschner, soccer hunk and the school’s official dimwit. When the vice principal witnesses one of Tim’s assaults, Marcel’s problems seem to be solved at last. But his good nature and his fast tongue get him into more trouble than he would prefer. Forced to work together, they both discover that there is more to the other one than meets the eye. A feel-good story about change, forgiveness, and love.
This romance novel contains graphic language and descriptions of sexual encounters (m/m).
Let me tell you something amusing first, or at least something which amused me. While I grabbed this story because I can’t resist even the hint of a “from enemies to lovers” theme, I also saw in the blurb that one of the guys is a pupil in German High School. One would think that this bit of information would alert me to the fact that the action takes place in Germany of all places :). Nope, for some weird reason I assumed that it is the name of a school located in America. Don’t get me wrong, as much as I love stories set in the US, I want more stories set in different countries so I was very happy to realize my mistake, but I thought it was amusing.
The author tells us in his brief bio on Amazon that English is not his first language. I noticed a few sentences which seemed awkward to me, but being an ESL reviewer myself, I am not 100% sure so I won’t even mention them. He is definitely writing in the British English that I remember learning in school back home, whatever little I learned before I came to live in the US, but I doubt that American speakers would get confused because some words have different meanings (pupils, not students, for example, and couple other things). The only thing I was surprised about was the writer constantly using “soccer” instead of “football;” I am pretty sure that Europeans call it “football” (it was my favorite sport growing up :) and I only learned “soccer” when I came here). I wonder if he decided to pander to American readers with this one word? Not sure, but it was surprising enough for me to note. The author gives us some terms from school life in Germany at the end of the book, but I did not find it vitally important for the understanding of what is happening in the story.
Anyway, as I mentioned previously, the main reason I grabbed the story is because I thought I may get some sort of “from enemies to lovers” trope. I suppose it kind of counts, even though the guys are shown to be real enemies for one chapter. I was also nervous as to how believable the “forgiving the bully” plot would play out. It was believable enough for me, but mostly because of how Tim is portrayed and his character is truly not quite what it seems to be initially. In fact I found Tim to be the most endearing character in the story, especially in the first quarter or maybe half of it, when we see his real personality shining through. The story is called “Perception” so it is no surprise that one of the main themes is how the guys are changing their perceptions of each other.
Marcel narrates the story and I unfortunately had some problems with his narration. While he was a likeable enough character, as far as I was concerned he just did not sound to me like a seventeen year old. To clarify, I do not pretend to be an expert on whether the author authentically portrays a gay teenager, but I know some late teens and they just don’t sound like Marcel does. I do give an allowance toward the fact that Marcel is such a gifted student — almost a genius — as far as intellect goes, but I still did not quite buy his voice. It felt more like an adult telling a story about his youth after some years passed and tries to pass for a seventeen year old (later in the story an eighteen year old). I also thought that some of Marcel’s actions were not the actions of a teen, but more of an adult who is much wiser than the young man of that age. I am trying not to give any spoilers, so let’s just say that Marcel felt way too perfect for the age he was supposed to be.
I thought the guys were very sweet together — in fact in places too much so — and overall I liked them together. I felt that several large and smallish obstacles that they faced on their road to happiness seemed believable and well-paced, although I thought that the book sometimes spelled out things a bit too much instead of showing them. I also thought that the villain in the story was a bit over the top (not because of what he did, but because he seemed kind of obsessed with planning and couple of times to me came off as an evil mastermind rather than just a bully).
Please note that the guys have sex on page and several scenes are as explicit as in any adult romance. While I had no problem with this, if you don’t really want to read explicit YA romance, this one is probably not for you.
I still recommend this story despite my issues, just suggest that you adjust your expectations accordingly and you may enjoy it as a pleasant way to spend a couple hours.