Ariel  - Steven R. Boyett I'd recommend this book for mature-ish 15/16 year old boys. It's gory and sex-filled. However, it reads better if you think of Pete as a 16 year old boy rather than a 20 year old. It doesn't quite qualify as Young Adult, but it comes close. Pete is a good Young Adult hero, what doesn't make it Young Adult is the length, sex and gore. The writing style even puts it at borderline Young Adult.

I'm pretty sure I just read a 400 page metaphor for a boy going through puberty; either that or it's a 400 page metaphor for a boy losing his virginity. Five or six years is a really long time to go through the worst of puberty. The lights, cars, and guns stopping working is even called The Change!

The fact that guns stopped working was pretty damned arbitrary, by the way.

When The Change happened, Pete was 14 or 15, just a normal nerdy teenage boy. He went to his debate event and even when the lights went out, at 4:30, they opened a window shade and kept going. He walked his girlfriend home in the dark, and when her folks weren't home, they walked to his place with the plan to go back the next day. They'd spend opposite nights in each others' houses until one set of parents made it home. Surprisingly enough, that plan didn't work, and that night Pete headed out on his own.

Two years after The Change, Pete was bathing in a clean stream musing on how quickly the waters cleaned up after technology stopped working. When he looked up, there was a unicorn standing amongst his clothing. When he got out of the stream, Pete could tell that the creature had a broken leg, and it spoke! After the Change, mythological creatures started cropping up everywhere. Unicorns, however, only show themselves and allow them to befriend the purest, the virgins. Pete names it Ariel.

The sex thing in this novel is so weird. Pete is so afraid of his own sexuality. He is so afraid of his sex dreams and when he masturbates in his sleep he really bugs out. I know he's afraid of losing Ariel, but dear Gods, he's supposed to be 20 or so. I know the world is different, but it's not so different that men and boys stop physically maturing. Even though it may have been weird having no one to talk him through puberty, he clearly knows what sex is from the way he describes his dreams. But he's so goddamned afraid of it and every time someone comes onto him or admits to have had sex, he gets nasty.

Five or six years after The Change is when the bulk of the novel takes place. (In the novel it says six years, but on the blurb, it says five. Consistency fail.) Ariel and Pete have been wandering from town to town, when they meet men on the road who will do anything to posses Ariel, especially her horn. These men are led by an evil necromancer, who lives in New York City. They go on a quest, to defeat him, walk to New York where Ariel is taken. Making a few friends along the way, Pete is able to free Ariel, but only after it is too late for his innocence.

Oh, he wants to kill us with his powerful magics? We should walk right into his lair! HERP DERP!

Also, what is it with these characters crying all the fucking time? After The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I thought I was done with the sobbing main male characters for a while. I picked up a post apocalyptic book, for Godssake. But no, Pete cries at everything. Come on! Every time he's over tired, scared, confused, angry, etc. etc. etc. He's been living in this world for 5 or six years, by himself. Why hasn't he grown up a little more? At the end of the book Pete finally grows up. There's an event that forces Ariel to turn away from him. He couldn't stay a child forever. Thank Gods.

Two and a half stars because, regardless of how weird and unsettling and arbitrary the sex, gore, and world was, it was actually a fun read.