Book Review: Gemini Bites by Patrick Ryan
I’ll be honest right off the bat (this is a pun, you just don’t know it yet), I read Gemini Bites by Patrick Ryan because it had the search keywords “gay literature” and “vampires” and I was looking for another LGBT gem after reading Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey a few weeks ago. (And now you know the pun! Yes, I’m horrible.) I almost put it back after seeing the cover but decided I liked the blurb enough to chance it and I had a vague memory of possibly, maybe seeing another blog review it and wanted to give Gemini Bites a fair chance if that was the case. (I was right! The Book Smugglers did review it last autumn. My brain is not faulty.) The book ended up not being what I expected but was still an enjoyable read.
Judy and Kyle Renneker are sixteen-year-old fraternal twins in a rambling family of nine. When their parents separate for a while when they are young kids, Judy comes back with a changed personality. She comes back mean and suddenly everything is a competition. Kyle has recently come out of the closet and feels as if he will never know love while Judy pretends to be a born-again Christian in order to land the boy she has a crush on. When their parents announce that they will be having a house guest for the next month, the twins are intrigued. Mostly because that house guest is Garret Johnson, a mysterious loner who moved into town less than a year ago and claims to be… a vampire.
The big question in Gemini Bites is if Garret really is a vampire like he claims or if he’s just putting on an act. There is a lot of acting in this book; Judy acts like a religious devotee to get close to her crush and Garret is acting like a vampire in order to keep people an arm’s length away. Self-worth and personal image are big themes in this book but we’re spared any indecision on the gay aspect of characters. Kyle and the other gay characters in this book are solidly gay and no time is wasted on the question of uncertain sexuality. In the end, both Judy and Garret are faced with the consequence of acting like another person and how pretending to be something they are not will gain them nothing but trouble.
I was a little disappointed to find the paranormal aspect of this book to be fake, mostly just because I think having Garret be a real vampire would make for a much more interesting story. However, that would have changed the book into something else entirely. As is, Gemini Bites is a slice-of-life and coming-of-age story that shows just how real life can get a little messy. The characters’ problems felt real and their coping mechanisms could have been used by any person. The reasons behind the way Judy and Garret act are predictable. The most entertaining part of the book is Coover’s insanity and various attempts to kill the “vampire”. I was very surprised by Sasha, Judy’s best friend, who eventually stands up to Judy and her BS. Sasha shows some real depth and backbone that I wish more people would display.
Gemini Bites by Patrick Ryan was not what I was expecting. It’s a good book but if you looking for something exciting, then I’d look elsewhere. If you’re into books that can give you flashbacks to your own high school horror show, then Gemini Bites is a good choice. The characters were relatable and easy to sympathize with and the whole “vampire” situation was just amusing. It’s a short read with only 229 pages and is perfect for a lazy spring evening.