Sunday, August 8, 2021

REVIEW: Sweet Admiration (book) by Yuuki Kousaka, illustrated by Midori Shena, translated by Andria Cheng

Sweet Admiration is a yaoi novel, basically m/m contemporary romance. My records tell me I bought it brand new, and it looks like it can be purchased for a reasonable price.

This review includes major spoilers.


Katsuya and Kazuki befriended each other over the course of a summer when they were kids, and they kept in touch after Kazuki went back to the city. While Katsuya considers Kazuki a friend, the person he really can't forget is Shio, Kazuki's older brother. It's now 12 years later, and Katsuya has decided to take a risk and accept a job with a small company Shio helped found in the hope of seeing Shio again.

However, things don't go quite the way he planned. Shio doesn't actually spend much time at the company now, and the company housing Katsuya was promised may have been a lie. Katsuya resigns himself to not seeing Shio, but the question of his housing really needs to be settled, so he confronts the company president about it...and gets assigned to a "company dorm" that's actually Shio's condo. Katsuya isn't sure whether to be happy or horrified. On the one hand, he gets to spend time with his childhood crush. On the other hand, Shio has made it clear that he's only putting up with this arrangement because the company president asked him to.

This could have been a decent, if somewhat boring, read. Shio's initial rudeness and coldness towards Katsuya was understandable - honestly, it was pretty weird that the company president would ask Shio, an executive, to share his company housing with a new and relatively low-level employee. Katsuya annoyed me, at first, with these huge risks he was taking for a guy he barely knew and hadn't seen in 12 years. However, his willingness to accept that he might not see Shio, plus his generally positive nature, eventually won me over.

Unfortunately, about halfway through the book the author introduced Takamasa, Kazuki and Shio's previously unmentioned stepbrother. Takamasa, supposedly a college student, behaved like an annoying, whiny, and clingy toddler whenever he was around Shio. His existence was clearly meant to drive a wedge between Katsuya and Shio, except that Shio showed no signs of wanting to ditch Katsuya in favor of Takamasa. So the author upped the drama and turned the story into a flaming train wreck. And not even a very interesting one at that.

I genuinely thought that Takamasa was lying when he told Katsuya that Shio had once had sex with him, because his tone and childish way of speaking practically screamed "I'm making this up just to hurt you so you'll stay away from Shio!" But then it turned out to be true. It happened when Takamasa was in high school, which meant that Shio, although drunk at the time, definitely should have been old enough to know better. Ugh. Just a mess.

The book ends with Katsuya and Shio a happy couple, but without any resolution to the giant mess that was Takamasa and his feelings for his stepbrother. Yes, Shio had a talk with him, but it was basically just to tell him that he loves Katsuya and so Takamasa needs to stop. As annoying as Takamasa was, I felt really bad for him. Shio handled things abominably, and Katsuya was upset for all the wrong reasons. The book's one sex scene happened while I was still trying to process everything.

It's a shame. If it weren't for all the Takamasa stuff, this would have been a bland but basically nice story about two guys getting to know each other, falling in love, and eventually having consensual sex. Not the greatest thing out there, especially considering the clumsy and sometimes repetitive writing, but not half bad for a Juné "yaoi novel."


One full-color illustration accompanied by an exceptionally bad quote from the book ("Shio took the opportunity to slide his tongue inside Katsuya's mouth, in between his teeth, slowly invading his inner mouth."), plus several black-and-white illustrations throughout. There are also profiles for and brief comments from both the author and illustrator, as well as a short afterword by the author.

No comments:

Post a Comment