By Sarah Tregay
Illustrated by Melissa DeJesus
Available now from Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins)
Jamie is a senior in high school, and pretty popular due to being nice and reasonably good looking. He's in band, and art, and part of the student literary magazine - not the coolest activities, but he's made some great friends. His best friend of all is Mason, but there is some trouble in paradise. Namely, Jamie is in love with Mason, but afraid to come out because he can't handle losing his best friend. Jamie is also busy going out with his lesbian friend Eden to help her with her religious parents and trying to get a LGBTQ-themed comic into the literary magazine despite the editor's objections.
FAN ART is a cute contemporary that will appeal to fans of LGBTQ romance. Between each chapter are poems that various characters submit to the magazine, which reveal other parts of the story. I really enjoyed these interludes, although some felt too sophisticated for the characters supposedly writing them. The central comic is also pretty cute, although a bit oddly paced - Jamie's passion for it does seem a bit over the top even though it does speak to him personally.
I felt that FAN ART had some issues delivering the romance. Mason is much more of a cipher than Jamie, partially because his point of view is only briefly glimpsed and partly because Jamie avoids him for a great deal of the book. By the end, I found Mason's motives somewhat confusing. I was also put off by the fact that all of Jamie's friends 'ship' him with Mason. The book does make the point that such actions can have consequences when done with friends instead of fictional characters. It still felt so intrusive and made me wish Jamie told them off quickly instead of getting embarrassed that someone thought he was gay.
I liked FAN ART well enough. It's definitely a popcorn novel, but there's nothing wrong with that. I just had really high hopes for this one because I loved the literary magazine angle. I suspect FAN ART will find an appreciative audience despite its flaws.