Whisky Tango Foxtrot is a good way to describe my experience with the second book in The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren trilogy. No I don’t mean it’s a bad read (I enjoyed it alot), but there are enough surprises here that will make the reader wonder if they watched Once Upon a Time and had a shocking cliffhanger presented to them.
Possible Spoilers from this point on, I’ll try my best not to give any, but if you want we can put you under a Siren spell and drown you afterwards.
The second book in the series continues the life of Blaize Trails as he continues to attend the faux ‘pray the gay away’ school known as sanctuary prep. Blaize is still recovering from the trauma of losing his friend Jimmy from the previous year’s encounter with the homophobic group the Zimmerman Zealots.
Despite all his trauma, Blaize is fully excited to leave his homophobic home life and return to sanctuary prep to hang out with his friends and eat hamburgers that heal you. However just because he is returning to his school, doesn’t mean the stakes aren’t any higher for Blaize, his friends, and peers.
Blaize now has the power of the Seeker given to him by his friend Jimmy before he died. Despite knowing better Blaize chooses to keep this new knowledge to himself only and not tell the staff at his school or any of his friends out of desires to not be owned by the government or to endanger any more of his loved ones.
The approach the Siren has taken against the school has also changed; rather than being backwater foulmouthed possible inbreds, the Zimmerman Zealots have expanded their resources to becoming politicians, not the foul mouthed orange kind either. They’ve become proper, have an extended vocabulary, and aren’t always under the control of the siren. Tensions increase when it’s revealed that one of the senators and part time controlled member of the ZZs has been informed that not all ‘healing schools’ are what they claim to be.
On a more teenage first world level of things, Blaize’s second year at Sanctuary Prep isn’t as glamorous as he’d thought it be (second year of highschool is never as glamorous as expected). The topic of bullying returns to the series and the minor character of Tracy returns as a main character. She is harassed by her former friends, but Blaize and his friends show her some kindness and invite her to hang out with them. Too bad her personality is that of an awful person.
The approach to bullying is done differently this time around with the character Roze choosing to do something about it and standing up to the jock crowd and encouraging other students to join in and creating a group known as the Red Shirt Brigade. I was actually reminded of the television series The Good Place at one point in the book with Roze, Blaize, and Cassie teaching Tracy how to be a ‘decent person’ with mixed results.
The parents of the character Cassie are introduced in this novel as well and along with Blaize’s parents present two different types of homophobia in the book; a nonviolent ‘have you tried not being gay?’ atmosphere is present with Blaize’s home life that frustrates him heavily even though he knows that his family still loves him and struggles with his own emotions of still loving his parents, but being angry with how they view his sexuality. Then there’s Cassie’s home situation; Cassie is abused both emotionally and physically by her adoptive parents causing Blaize to have some relief that despite his parents being homophobic, he is still loved by them regardless.
There is romance in the book, but like with the previous novel I am happy with how it was handled and that Blaize’s affections for a character named Timothy is more in the crush area that occasionally slips into stalker territory instead of constant Twilight Saga level of obsessing over the love interest. I do like that Blaize makes the smarter decision concerning his feelings for Timothy for the greater good of not only Timothy, but all of the student body at sanctuary prep and could relate to some of the heartache that Blaize had at later points in the book.
One final thought is that I am very, very sorry to the author Cody Wagner! Despite my decision not to approach him about the story when I was reading the first book until after I was done, I may have bugged him a little bit with my real time reactions to the events of the book (something tells me JK Rowling and Anne Rice don’t put up with that). It was pretty cool to have him tease me about theories I thought up as I went along reading, and it was pretty cool that some questions I asked that resulted in a “not answering” response were addressed in this book!
I give The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren Book 2 the Siren four Tater Tot Pyramids out of five.