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Kiss & Tell

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A smart, sexy YA novel about a boy band star, his first breakup, his first rebound, and what it means to be queer in the public eye, from award-winning author Adib Khorram Hunter never expected to be a boy band star, but, well, here he is. He and his band Kiss & Tell are on their first major tour of North America, playing arenas all over the United States and Canada (and ge A smart, sexy YA novel about a boy band star, his first breakup, his first rebound, and what it means to be queer in the public eye, from award-winning author Adib Khorram Hunter never expected to be a boy band star, but, well, here he is. He and his band Kiss & Tell are on their first major tour of North America, playing arenas all over the United States and Canada (and getting covered by the gossipy press all over North America as well). Hunter is the only gay member of the band, and he just had a very painful breakup with his first boyfriend–leaked sexts, public heartbreak, and all–and now everyone expects him to play the perfect queer role model for teens. But Hunter isn’t really sure what being the perfect queer kid even means. Does it mean dressing up in whatever The Label tells him to wear for photo shoots and pretending never to have sex? (Unfortunately, yes.) Does it mean finding community among the queer kids at the meet-and-greets after K&T’s shows? (Fortunately, yes.) Does it include a new relationship with Kaivan, the star of the band opening for K&T on tour? (He hopes so.) But when The Label finds out about Hunter and Kaivan, it spells trouble—for their relationship, for the perfect gay boy Hunter plays for the cameras, and, most importantly, for Hunter himself.


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A smart, sexy YA novel about a boy band star, his first breakup, his first rebound, and what it means to be queer in the public eye, from award-winning author Adib Khorram Hunter never expected to be a boy band star, but, well, here he is. He and his band Kiss & Tell are on their first major tour of North America, playing arenas all over the United States and Canada (and ge A smart, sexy YA novel about a boy band star, his first breakup, his first rebound, and what it means to be queer in the public eye, from award-winning author Adib Khorram Hunter never expected to be a boy band star, but, well, here he is. He and his band Kiss & Tell are on their first major tour of North America, playing arenas all over the United States and Canada (and getting covered by the gossipy press all over North America as well). Hunter is the only gay member of the band, and he just had a very painful breakup with his first boyfriend–leaked sexts, public heartbreak, and all–and now everyone expects him to play the perfect queer role model for teens. But Hunter isn’t really sure what being the perfect queer kid even means. Does it mean dressing up in whatever The Label tells him to wear for photo shoots and pretending never to have sex? (Unfortunately, yes.) Does it mean finding community among the queer kids at the meet-and-greets after K&T’s shows? (Fortunately, yes.) Does it include a new relationship with Kaivan, the star of the band opening for K&T on tour? (He hopes so.) But when The Label finds out about Hunter and Kaivan, it spells trouble—for their relationship, for the perfect gay boy Hunter plays for the cameras, and, most importantly, for Hunter himself.

30 review for Kiss & Tell

  1. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    I will read anything this man writes. And I will always hope for a third Darius the Great.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bryce Rocks My Socks

    if a member from One Direction dated a member from 5SOS

  3. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

    Kiss & Tell has been on my TBR since before it even had a cover. I cannot express enough how excited I was to finally read this. I was counting down the days in March and got it as soon as it dropped. There are very few books that directly appeal to me, but I am not ashamed to admit that one about a gay boy in a band certainly does. My expectations were high and I ended up really enjoying it. There was something I found really special about this novel. It was something I've had conversations wit Kiss & Tell has been on my TBR since before it even had a cover. I cannot express enough how excited I was to finally read this. I was counting down the days in March and got it as soon as it dropped. There are very few books that directly appeal to me, but I am not ashamed to admit that one about a gay boy in a band certainly does. My expectations were high and I ended up really enjoying it. There was something I found really special about this novel. It was something I've had conversations with my best friend about for years. I've always wanted a queer book with sex-positivity. I've had a few problems with how some books have depicted or talked about gay sex in the past. Sometimes it can feel like it is being written through a heternormative gaze. The reality is that queer people experience all kinds of sex, in many different ways. I've read the same sex scenes over and over again. I've watched characters discuss gay sex between men countless times, and it all just blurs together. I have never even seen douching be alluded to before, so I was taken by surprise when Kiss & Tell openly discussed it. There are so many things that need to be discussed in queer novels, especially in the new adult to adult bands. We do not talk enough about bottom-shaming, about the homophobia in the queer community, or about the pressure to be masculine. I loved how this novel started to talk about the fact that there is no shame in enjoying being penetrated. Heternormative society continues to perpetuate the idea that bottoms are inferior, or somehow more queer, than tops, and it is so sickeningly wrapped up in misogyny. I've lost count of how many times I've been asked if I'm the 'woman' or the 'man'. I really liked that by the end of the novel, Hunter stopped feeling ashamed and rejected those ideas. I honestly think there was room for more discussion on this, but I hope that Kiss & Tell leads to more novels talking about these issues. Something I really appreciated was the exploration of how a person's queerness can be dissected in the public eye. Hunter had to navigate pressure from his management and fans to be the 'perfect, clean gay'. This is not something exclusive to famous queer people. All of us have felt pressure to conform. To modulate our queerness to suit the world's heteronormativity. Some of us have deepened our voices, changed the way we dress, altered our walks and body language. Others have avoided certain words and phrases to not be associated with queer culture. It can be so exhausting. At a certain point, you hit a wall where you cannot conceal yourself anymore, if only to protect your mental health. I think Kiss & Tell did a good job of exploring this, and it was interesting to see how Hunter continued to feel pressure to conceal his identity even after coming out. Was it the most nuanced and detailed exploration of these issues? No. Was it a brilliant start? Absolutely yes. I really liked how the author explored the physical safety of expressing queerness. The way the hands of the fans reached for Hunter, touched him inappropriately, manhandled, and essentially abused him, was incredibly haunting at times. I also appreciated how the novel alludes to the fact that the lines of consent are openly blurred in nightclubs. It is hard to describe what it is like to enter a new space as a queer person. It can be so never-wracking, to not know the tolerance of the people or understand just how queer you are allowed to be. A lot of people will never understand what it is like to look up the laws of countries you want to travel to or read the experiences of those who have lived in the place you are moving to. To put it plainly, it is hard to be reminded of being fearful of expressing your queerness in public, to hold someone's hand, or wear something you love. Yet, these are such important discussions, and the novel did a nice job of quietly addressing them. I wish there had been more directness at times, and think the format of including interviews and transcripts was an excellent place for deepening this exploration. There were a few things I did not enjoy, that really stopped me loving this. I didn't like how Hunter's feelings were dismissed by those around him, especially when those same people were constantly encouraging him to speak up. Whenever he would confess his feelings, certain characters would respond by calling him selfish and unaware. Nobody should be dismissed, or have their feelings downplayed because someone else is hurting. When somebody comes to you for help, listen to what they have to say. Everyone's feelings are valid. Some of the characters were terribly unlikeable. I didn't care for either of the love interests, which was a shame because I came to this novel expecting a really wonderful romance. I felt like a lot of the relationships were toxic, which is fine if it's done well. I honestly wish Hunter had been single the entire novel, and that it had focused more on the incredibly important topics the author spoke about. I'm going back and forth on the rating, but I'll keep it at four for now, because this really did give me a lot of the things I've always hoped for! You can follow me on: Instagram Twitter TikTok

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marieke (mariekes_mesmerizing_books)

    This is not Darius, I repeat: this is not Darius. Not because Darius is better but because Kiss and Tell is different! It’s impossible to compare the books. While Darius is like a rippling stream, Kiss and Tell is like a thundering waterfall. Both are beautiful, though. Darius is soft and quiet, Kiss and Tell is hyperactive and loud, almost hysterical. This is partly because of the writing, short, blunt sentences, and partly because of the structure, chapters interspersed with news flashes, posts This is not Darius, I repeat: this is not Darius. Not because Darius is better but because Kiss and Tell is different! It’s impossible to compare the books. While Darius is like a rippling stream, Kiss and Tell is like a thundering waterfall. Both are beautiful, though. Darius is soft and quiet, Kiss and Tell is hyperactive and loud, almost hysterical. This is partly because of the writing, short, blunt sentences, and partly because of the structure, chapters interspersed with news flashes, posts on social media, texts, emails, etc. The energetic writing fitted my own excitement when I started reading this story (I was nervous, wouldn’t I finish it too soon? And what if I wouldn’t like it?). And even more importantly, it fitted Hunter’s life, the tour he was on with Kiss and Tell, being a famous person, and having so many interferences with his love life, from the press, the fans, The Label, everyone. Sometimes, the Darius books' vulnerability and quietness suddenly came to the surface, especially in the second part of the story. In the Aiden mess, the songwriting, and Hunter's feelings for Kaivan. And throughout the story, Hunter is forced into a certain definition of what a gay guy should be like. And he doesn’t know how to explain to others what it feels like to be put in a box. I believe this is the most important message of the story: we always try to label people instead of just loving each other for who we are. I doubted my rating. I don’t think the story is perfect, and if I’m honest, logically, this should be no more than a four-star read. The structure can feel messy, and the side characters could be more fleshed out. But … although I’ve never liked boy bands, books about boy bands seem to crawl under my skin lately. I just like them very, very much! And I love Adib’s writing. That’s why I decided to round my rating up and give Kiss and Tell five beautiful stars. I received an ARC from Dial Books (Penguin Publishing Group) and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Follow me on Instagram

  5. 4 out of 5

    roma

    3.5ish stars I really like the themes explored in this book especially with respect to boy bands and cultural shifts, which is one of the reasons this book doesn't work well as a romance. What I liked most was the personal growth. Hunter's realizations throughout the book feel very realistic like Adib has put a lot of thought into fleshing him out. I liked that there wasn't any brushing off of fans shipping them and it brought in great reflections on the way media treats queer people in general. 3.5ish stars I really like the themes explored in this book especially with respect to boy bands and cultural shifts, which is one of the reasons this book doesn't work well as a romance. What I liked most was the personal growth. Hunter's realizations throughout the book feel very realistic like Adib has put a lot of thought into fleshing him out. I liked that there wasn't any brushing off of fans shipping them and it brought in great reflections on the way media treats queer people in general. We see how difficult it is for Hunter and Kaivan as they are put in the box of "good gay boy" and "asian singer" and we see how this affects them deeply. We see how sanitization of queerness occurs, how queer people are put into categories of safe and pure and how that really reflects in the way these characters think about themselves and their relationships with other people. The main characters are all very believable and they feel very realistic, but the side characters don't feel very fleshed out. It felt like they were present for teaching moments at time. Hunter's band mates are present to be supportive and then make him realize his selfishness, and they fit into archetypes and serve a purpose to the narrative. This is also one of those times in ya contemporary romance that I feel that the romantic arc wasn't necessary here, the main character is self centered and while that is absolutely understandable as his anxieties are very true, it also meant that the ending didn't feel earned. I didn't see any chemistry between the leads and there was a lot of hurt feelings that were resolved too quickly for a neat resolution. It's a question of why are they together when there's more hurt than happy times. Anyways I recommend this book since overall I enjoyed how the points were put forth and I hope other's will enjoy more than I did Thank you to the publisher and edelweiss for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion in any way.

  6. 5 out of 5

    booksandzoe

    This is one of the rare reviews where my enjoyment and objective quality don't have the same rating--my enjoyment is 5 stars, the objective quality IMO is 3 stars. Average the two.. around 4 :) While the book is very masterful in creating a multi-faceted, interesting main character and serving searing and unique criticisms on fan culture, I believe the side characters needed more developing and the romantic plot should’ve been either more developed or completely removed. The main character, a whi This is one of the rare reviews where my enjoyment and objective quality don't have the same rating--my enjoyment is 5 stars, the objective quality IMO is 3 stars. Average the two.. around 4 :) While the book is very masterful in creating a multi-faceted, interesting main character and serving searing and unique criticisms on fan culture, I believe the side characters needed more developing and the romantic plot should’ve been either more developed or completely removed. The main character, a white gay boyband member, faces daily homophobic micro and macro-aggressions from the music industry and media at large, which is handled with such nuance and care; by adding excerpts from interview transcripts, emails between their record label management team, and social media posts, the book shows how ridiculous and even insidious the culture surrounding boyband obsession is masterfully. The main character is very flawed, but in a realistic way that I don't often see from YA novels. Often I read YA books where the main characters just do Very Shitty Things that I don't really think can be justified by their age, and I see others defending them by saying "they're just teenagers they're allowed to make mistakes!!1!1," which never fails to annoy me; however I think everything Hunter does in this book is very well-written with nuance to show the extreme pressure he's under, and how his privileges and marginalization overlap to show why he is the way that he is. This book contains a lot of commentary on what it is to be a gay person in the spotlight through showing his label doing homophobic things to him Such As forcing him to dress more twinkish after he's ousted as bottom via his vitriolic ex -_- The parts that I think objectively bring down the quality of this book are the lack of development the side characters receive, as well as the romance plot which I found to be a bit clunky. None of the other members of the band really have fleshed out identities and roles in the story lacking consistent chemistry which lead to an unsatisfying ending. Beyond serving as the occasional "stop acting like you're the only oppressed person in this group Hunter, we have members of color in this band that are going through similar marginalizations as you but you never talk to them about it Ever for some reason" moments that serve to show the main character his white privilege, the side characters are given no personalities or development throughout the book, which left me wanting more. The romance between Hunter and Kaivan was awkwardly placed within the plot; while Kaivan is arguably the only other well-developed character in the book, I wanted more chemistry between the two to show why they belonged together beyond convenience, and I also wasn't satisfied with how this romantic plot was tied up. This book definitely had an addictive quality to it, as I read/listened to it all in one sitting (4 hours straight). The issues with the romance subplot and side character clunkiness didn't remove much from my enjoyment, because I found so much of the commentary in this story to be so artfully crafted and nuanced in a way I've never seen a boyband book written before, and I would definitely recommend it. However, I do wish the side characters were handled with more care as it would've made the story EVEN BETTER. Thank you Netgalley/Penguin Teen/PRH Audio for the advanced ebook and audiobook copies of this story!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    THERE’S A VIETNAMESE-CANADIAN BOY IN THIS I REPEAT A VIET-CANADIAN CHARACTER AAAAH Update Read: It's easy to focus on how messy and imperfect people are, but the next generation is already making their voices heard and that's just the loud ones. There are the quiet ones too, who are making powerful statements just by living, just by existing, just by surviving in this system that wants to tear them down. 4.5⭐️ At first sight, this book might seem quite simple but I was actually so so surprised by h THERE’S A VIETNAMESE-CANADIAN BOY IN THIS I REPEAT A VIET-CANADIAN CHARACTER AAAAH Update Read: It's easy to focus on how messy and imperfect people are, but the next generation is already making their voices heard and that's just the loud ones. There are the quiet ones too, who are making powerful statements just by living, just by existing, just by surviving in this system that wants to tear them down. 4.5⭐️ At first sight, this book might seem quite simple but I was actually so so surprised by how much I enjoyed it as it tackles on some very important matters. There’s also something about books about boy band that I just adore! Worth mentioning that I didn’t expect to tear up but I did. I truly felt for Hunter. Overall this was super cute! Boy band, poutine, a spin on the fake dating trope, little bits of hockey, diversity, the cost of fame, the pressure of being a queer celebrity, parasocial relationships! It has it all. I only wish that the relationships between the bandmates were further developed.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alec Ashlark

    Kiss & Tell talks about a lot of relevant issues, from white supremacy to sex positivity and many others in between. But basically it’s a story about a gay musician who’s suffocating inside this hetero-respectable box that his label has shoved him in, while also grappling with the pitfalls of fame, the downsides of young love, and his desire to make a positive difference. Recommended for anyone looking for a meaningful, thought-provoking read. The writing has an authenticity to it, in the finer d Kiss & Tell talks about a lot of relevant issues, from white supremacy to sex positivity and many others in between. But basically it’s a story about a gay musician who’s suffocating inside this hetero-respectable box that his label has shoved him in, while also grappling with the pitfalls of fame, the downsides of young love, and his desire to make a positive difference. Recommended for anyone looking for a meaningful, thought-provoking read. The writing has an authenticity to it, in the finer details like typos in text messages, misspelled names in articles, and the main character’s over-repetitive word choice. It was refreshing. Another thing that the writing has is a subtle, effortless humor. I believe there aren’t any real jokes in the book. There is simply a lot of factual information that just happens to be funny. I find this kind of humor the best brand of comedy. Hunter, the main character, is thoughtful, considerate, and sensitive. He’s an easily likable character and also relatable once I got to see his less admirable traits. But he didn’t really undergo much of a development. He was struggling for most of the book, but at the end he just no longer was. He got what he wanted, but it wasn’t hard-earned because he didn’t really fight for it. He didn’t triumph; he just survived. As with Kaivan, the love interest: I believe he has a lot of depths, with him being a gay American musician of Iranian heritage who’s trying to establish an independent artistic identity. But sadly, those depths weren’t really explored. The minor characters are culturally diverse but they weren’t fleshed-out on the page. The other band members were interchangeable in my head, as well as their manager with their tutor and other crew of the tour. They have different identities, of course, but they practically had the same mental register to me, not physically but characteristically. I liked them; I'm just not sure whether individually or collectively. I was never really sold on the romance, but I did enjoy the many romantic scenes. They were sometimes awkward but also sweet, funny, and intimate. The reason why I wasn’t fully on board with the Hunter-Kaivan ship was because there were a lot of red flags popping up every now and again against Kaivan’s sincerity and intention. I was suspicious and, in consequence, simply never fully warmed up to him. The plot is the weakest point of the book. The conflict didn’t start right away; it was nicely eased into the story. But the higher the plot rose toward the climax, the more the conflict was weakened, made less significant, by the Hunter’s inaction. And then the plot peaked, and suddenly there was a lot of action. It was basically an explosion of bottled-up emotions. But what’s most disappointing is that the mess made by said explosion was casually and briefly resolved— the end, happily ever after. Although the theme didn’t completely succeed in what the author obviously wanted to accomplish with it, the theme is still the book’s strongest suit, and one that resonated most with me, a young gay man of color. Everything was tied to the theme and the issues it tackled, like hetero-patriarchy and respectability, sex positivity, homophobia and racism, and gender conformity. There is a lot of extra content in the book separate from the narrative, like interviews and news articles, and many of them got away from the story. But on the upside, they brought the theme more into focus, which made them just as important, if not more, to the book as a whole. In fact, it’s the theme that gives this book worth. Given the number of less impressive parts of Kiss & Tell, I’m surprised that I enjoyed reading it as much as I did. I smiled and laughed; I swooned and got excited; and I rooted for the main character. And not the least, I made personal reflections regarding the relevant issues presented. So yes, I do recommend this book. The ARC was provided by Dial Books via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest and critical review. Expected publication date: 22 March 2022. Follow me: Twitter | StoryGraph | Wordpress

  9. 5 out of 5

    Meags

    4 Stars Adib Khorram’s voice in queer YA fiction is top tier and not to be missed. His writing is effortless; his diverse characters and their stories are always engaging, thought-provoking and relevant. In his third novel, Khorram explores themes dealing with queer love and the dreaded fame monster, as seventeen-year-old boy-band member, Hunter, the only gay guy of the group, deals with his first major break-up and second potential love, all while trying to find his place and purpose in a world w 4 Stars Adib Khorram’s voice in queer YA fiction is top tier and not to be missed. His writing is effortless; his diverse characters and their stories are always engaging, thought-provoking and relevant. In his third novel, Khorram explores themes dealing with queer love and the dreaded fame monster, as seventeen-year-old boy-band member, Hunter, the only gay guy of the group, deals with his first major break-up and second potential love, all while trying to find his place and purpose in a world where his image, his actions, and every detail of his personal life are dictated and vehemently judged by his record label and his global audience. This story deals with some heavy stuff and it’s more on the adult side of the YA scale, with racism, homophobia, sex positivity/sex shaming and a slew of other themes prevalent and digested throughout. I appreciated the depth of the story and the characters, all while enjoying the fanatic boy-band setting and the lives of the guys front and centre. The romance isn’t super strong, but that didn’t truly bother me. Where a deeper love story was maybe lacking, between Hunter and Iranian-American support-act member Kaivan, the story held greater strength in its exploration of social issues, like racial equality, LGBTQIA rights and the impact social media is having on everyone. The writing style worked a treat for me too, chopping and changing between Hunter's narrative and news articles, social media trends, and the general fan-girl buzz, good and bad, surrounding Hunter and his fellow Kiss and Tell members. Some readers may struggle with this style of writing, but I found it helped the fluency of the story a great deal and kept things interesting. Although this didn’t give me the same depths of emotion and adoration I felt for Darius (from Darius the Great Is Not Okay and its sequel), Hunter’s coming-of-age-in-the-spotlight story was still an excellent addition to Khorram’s memorable works. I can't wait to get my hands on his next story, whatever that may be.

  10. 5 out of 5

    micah ➳ canonicallychaotic

    boy bands. and another one. and another one. AND AH NOTHER ONE

  11. 4 out of 5

    cel ✼ readwithcel

    “it’s easy to focus on how messy and imperfect people are, but the next generation is already making their voices heard…and that’s just the loud ones. there are the quiet ones too, who are making powerful statements just by living, just by existing, just by surviving in this system that wants to tear them down. still they rise.” ✼ thank you to penguin random house for sending me an arc of kiss & tell in exchange for an honest review. kiss & tell follows hunter, an openly gay boy band star as h “it’s easy to focus on how messy and imperfect people are, but the next generation is already making their voices heard…and that’s just the loud ones. there are the quiet ones too, who are making powerful statements just by living, just by existing, just by surviving in this system that wants to tear them down. still they rise.” ✼ thank you to penguin random house for sending me an arc of kiss & tell in exchange for an honest review. kiss & tell follows hunter, an openly gay boy band star as he and his best friends/bandmates embark on their first major north american tour. fresh off a painful and public breakup, hunter finds himself under immense scrutiny from all ends - their label who wants to shape hunter into a palatable queer person to boost sales, & the public who expect him to be the perfect queer role model. stories about the cost of fame are my achilles heel. there’s something about it that makes my chest physically ache every single time. this book has a lot to it. there’s the way privilege and marginalization overlap. there’s the heightened standards that queer folk are held to, especially those in the spotlight. how the industry picks you apart into digestible pieces, disregarding inconvenient parts of the narrative, molding it, reshaping you into something more acceptable. there’s the relinquish of control that accompanies fame. who are you truly, when others treat you like a doll? when rules are set and you don’t even have a say in how you dress, let alone express yourself. the way everyone thinks they know you, but do you know you? the mixed media format is executed so well here and its just. so zestful !! with short energetic chapters interspersed with social media posts, texts, gossip columns and emails (perfect for this adhd brain tbh!). it’s so immersive and you can’t help but get riled up and feel frustrated both for, and with, these kids. it may be instinctive to compare this to the darius books, and while this has similarly quiet and vulnerable moments, its also very different. adib khorram’s range !! but throughout, adib excels at creating such wonderfully flawed and multi-faceted mcs, and i’m so very happy to read anything that he writes ever.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mimi

    Having the hardest time rating this because I hold grudges like nobody's business and this book literally TELLS you to hold a grudge against certain characters for most of the book and then forgive them in like two seconds flat toward the end and I'm way too cold-hearted for that 🤷🏽‍♀️ Having the hardest time rating this because I hold grudges like nobody's business and this book literally TELLS you to hold a grudge against certain characters for most of the book and then forgive them in like two seconds flat toward the end and I'm way too cold-hearted for that 🤷🏽‍♀️

  13. 4 out of 5

    Reading_ Tamishly

    No. With how much I loved the author's previous two books, this one didn't work for me. I love boybands and I support the lgbtqiap community, but this book fell flat and will remain as something I do not need to remember. The characters lack the it thing for me. They seem more distant than the many side characters. The plot is so familiar. It all seems like the book has been written in a hurry just to write a book to follow the boyband trend. It's fine as long as the writing brings me joy. But t No. With how much I loved the author's previous two books, this one didn't work for me. I love boybands and I support the lgbtqiap community, but this book fell flat and will remain as something I do not need to remember. The characters lack the it thing for me. They seem more distant than the many side characters. The plot is so familiar. It all seems like the book has been written in a hurry just to write a book to follow the boyband trend. It's fine as long as the writing brings me joy. But this one isn't the one.

  14. 4 out of 5

    lily ✿

    what can i say? this book gave me serotonin. written in short chapters sandwiched between social media posts and articles, kiss & tell is a multimedia experience following boyband member hunter drake and his band, kiss & tell, on their north american tour. hunter is fresh out of a breakup - with his band member’s twin brother, nonetheless - and he’s facing a PR nightmare when his ex leaks intimate sexts between the two of them. his management’s solution? a fake dating ploy between him and kaivan, what can i say? this book gave me serotonin. written in short chapters sandwiched between social media posts and articles, kiss & tell is a multimedia experience following boyband member hunter drake and his band, kiss & tell, on their north american tour. hunter is fresh out of a breakup - with his band member’s twin brother, nonetheless - and he’s facing a PR nightmare when his ex leaks intimate sexts between the two of them. his management’s solution? a fake dating ploy between him and kaivan, a member of their opening act. hunter is constantly in a give and take relationship between his individuality and his public persona. he’s gay, and he’s out, and that comes with a number of expectations. the world wants him to look a certain way, act a certain way, speak a certain way, and participate in every single morning show’s “brunch” segment. he’s reluctant to part with any more pieces of himself, but what if there’s some real feelings between him and kaivan? i’m a sucker for books that explore the perils of fame for the famous, and khorram explored this issue exceeding well. it definitely made me question my own perceptions of celebrities, the way that i treat them, and the expectations i hold for them. in what’s essentially a feel-good book about a pop band, khorram also works in relevant issues and real conversations, addressing homophobia and racism, as well as straight and white privilege concerning these topics. it’s also sex-positive, and addresses the hypocrisy of queer people being held to higher standards in this respect. my only complaint would be the lack of character development between the other band members. they all sort of faded together to me, but i loved the book so much that i decided to rate it five stars anyways. why not? i would definitely recommend reading it. happy pride!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tessa Herondale~Carstairs

    im not obsessed with boybands. im really not.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gabriele | QueerBookdom

    DRC provided by Dial Books via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. Representation: gay white protagonist of Scottish descent, gay Iranian secondary character, Vietnamese secondary character, Brazilian secondary character, Gujarati Indian secondary character, non-binary Black tertiary character, gay white tertiary character. Content Warning: online harassment, homophobia, mentions of parental death, fetishisation, mentions of vomiting, doxing, sex negativity, racism, mentions of bullying DRC provided by Dial Books via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. Representation: gay white protagonist of Scottish descent, gay Iranian secondary character, Vietnamese secondary character, Brazilian secondary character, Gujarati Indian secondary character, non-binary Black tertiary character, gay white tertiary character. Content Warning: online harassment, homophobia, mentions of parental death, fetishisation, mentions of vomiting, doxing, sex negativity, racism, mentions of bullying, sexual harassment, alcohol, homophobic slur. Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram is a zestful contemporary novel focusing on the gay member of a Canadian boy band, the way his life is scrutinised in relation to his love life and his sexuality, how the latter is sanitised to appeal to the mainstream and how selfishness and egocentrism can impact our empathy and can blind us to whoever surround us and their problems. Hunter was a great hockey player until an unfortunate accident destroyed his dream. He did not expect though that an impromptu music video with his best friends on the subject of poutine would go viral and start his career as a singer and song-writer. He did not anticipate either how being part of Kiss & Tell as a gay boy would have been curated to please societal standards of how queer people should be seen when they are as public as Hunter is. Who knows me on a deeper level, knows Darius the Great Is Not Okay is one of my absolute favourite books ever (in the top five of my personal ranking, if not even top three), but as a friend said in her review Kiss & Tell is not Darius. They are like two intersecting lines who run on different trajectories, but still have a point of convergence. In my opinion, Adib Khorram is a master of character creation and that is why I think that his character-driven narrations are pure emotional excellency. In all his works, he crafts such compelling protagonists, secondary and tertiary characters, and Kiss & Tell is no exception. Perhaps, I am too attached to Darius to have an entirely unbiased opinion because while I really liked Adib’s newest book, I did not fall head over heels for it and upon reflecting on the reason for a long time (I finished this book last month), I opine the book should have been longer. There is this pre-conceived notion that young adult contemporary novels need to stay within a certain length and I hate that belief. So many books would have benefited from being extended beyond their current finishing point. That is basically the only negative feedback I can give this book as I very much liked the rest, in particular how well Adib juggled the decentring of white queerness as the only dimension of social vulnerability (showing how Hunter in his misguided selfishness overlooks his surroundings and the bigger picture, focusing on his problems and those alone, while willingly and unwillingly ignoring his bandmates’ feelings about the public reaction to their success and the racism filling the industry); the critique of sex negativity and the discussion around the demonization of queer sex and the way white patriarchal cisheteronormativity “cleans” queer public personas; and, of course, the underlying theme of mental health which permeates Khorram’s novels, both predominantly in Darius and subordinately here, and which I hope will always remain a recurrent topic. Kiss & Tell by Adib Khorram is still a hit out of the park for me (despite my rating) and I whole-heartedly recommend it. Reading experiences are a rather subjective matter, but I hope you will give this book a chance, and read Darius’ novels as well, as Adib is really an excellent writer.

  17. 5 out of 5

    ash | आश ♥ [superache enthusiast]

    **3.5 stars** I honestly loved the vibe of this book, and the fake-dating boybands with close friends is something I'm a sucker for. I loved the different cultures showcased, the queer sanitization versus m/f couples in the media and intersectionality (how the mc who's white and gay and his bandmates who are poc and straight). ignore my kpop-loving=self showing out (not that im a shipper, just a fan of groups) While I loved the concept of this book, the romance was...not there?? Or executed diffe **3.5 stars** I honestly loved the vibe of this book, and the fake-dating boybands with close friends is something I'm a sucker for. I loved the different cultures showcased, the queer sanitization versus m/f couples in the media and intersectionality (how the mc who's white and gay and his bandmates who are poc and straight). ignore my kpop-loving=self showing out (not that im a shipper, just a fan of groups) While I loved the concept of this book, the romance was...not there?? Or executed differently because while it was really realistic with the arguments, past breakups, internalized thoughts/pressures, etc, I'm just not a sucker for non-slowburn-friendstolovers + this was kinda insta-love-y. Also, the actual band was there...but not? They were important to the book and not marginalized but I kept getting lost with the names and who's who [I could only keep track of Aston and Owen tbh]. Final review with quotes to come !!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Thank you to Penguin Teen and Netgalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 4.5/5 This was really great! I feel like it could've been longer to really explore some of the discussions presented. Kiss & Tell follows the incredibly popular boy band "Kiss & Tell" and Hunter Drake, the only gay member in the band. Hunter has been an icon for queer youth everywhere, but after his breakup with his boyfriend and texts are leaked, his image is put into question. Hunter n Thank you to Penguin Teen and Netgalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 4.5/5 This was really great! I feel like it could've been longer to really explore some of the discussions presented. Kiss & Tell follows the incredibly popular boy band "Kiss & Tell" and Hunter Drake, the only gay member in the band. Hunter has been an icon for queer youth everywhere, but after his breakup with his boyfriend and texts are leaked, his image is put into question. Hunter never wanted to be the Label's perfect queer kid, but navigating the line between keeping the Label appeased and being himself is hard enough without thousands of fans and parents talking about his actions like they know him. Then there's Kaivan, the drummer of PAR-K, the opener for Kiss & Tell on their North American tour. Hunter and Kaivan start a flirty friendship when Kaivan comes out to him. Hunter thinks this could develop into something romantic, but when the Label gets involved, Hunter doesn't know what to do. This was such a great story about the pressure of being in the spotlight and how that affects people. Hunter is a white cis gay boy and he has a lot of privilege. It was very interesting to see all the things he dealt with and how he centers himself. Three members of Kiss & Tell are BIPOC, but when Hunter finally talks to them, he realizes that he's not the only one dealing with stereotypes and microaggressions. Hunter is a bit selfish and closed off in the beginning of this, but we see him start to come out of his shell and begin to listen. I wish this book was longer so we could've seen more action from Hunter as he comes to all these realizations. I do wish Hunter had taken a bigger role in educating himself. Maybe it's because he's Canadian, but I think it stems more from being white. But Hunter is constantly educated by the people of color in his life and I can't imagine how tiring that was for them. I do like that by the end he's finally more receptive to what their saying and how racism is different from queermisia, but is still just as damaging. I did like Hunter's character. He's only a teenager and he doesn't have everything figured out. Plus with private texts leaked by his ex, he's dealing with a lot. His image and reputation are in question and Hunter doesn't know how to navigate this, especially as a gay boy. The Label wants him to become more of a femme/twink persona even though that's not him. He spends a lot of time internally debating how to navigate this and what he should do. I really enjoyed Hunter and Kaivan's friendship/relationship. Kaivan was so cute and I wanted more of him. The past interviews with him definitely made me worried. I liked how he did eventually talk to Hunter about all of it. There was so much interesting presence about heteronormativity, and toxic masculinity. We do get some discussions of it and I was glad for that. I would've loved more, but ultimately, I really enjoyed this book. Last thing I'll say is that this cover is RUDE and screams pansexual vibes and then there was no pan characters and I was sad. Oh well :( Rep: white Canadian gay cis male MC, Iranian-American gay cis male side character, white Canadian gay cis male side character, white Canadian cishet male side character, Vietnamese-Canadian cishet male side character, Brazilian-Canadian cishet male side character, Indian-Canadian cishet male side character, Black queer nonbinary drag monarch side character, white American gay cis male side character, various queer & BIPOC side characters briefly mentioned. CWs: Body shaming, slut shaming, homophobia/homomisia, racism, sexual harassment. Moderate: alcohol consumption, sexual harassment, sexual assault, outing, consensual sexual content, grief, past death of parent. Minor: Car accident.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kate Olson

    I absolutely inhaled this book! Readers should know that it’s totally different than Darius - excellent but just a different kind of book. Also, yes it’s YA, but very mature YA due to the sexual content. I’m all for sex positive YA and this brings up so many important issues in that space, but teachers/librarians should know this is a probably a high school YA story rather than middle school. Main character is 17 but it reads much more like a college or new adult story. I’m so excited for what t I absolutely inhaled this book! Readers should know that it’s totally different than Darius - excellent but just a different kind of book. Also, yes it’s YA, but very mature YA due to the sexual content. I’m all for sex positive YA and this brings up so many important issues in that space, but teachers/librarians should know this is a probably a high school YA story rather than middle school. Main character is 17 but it reads much more like a college or new adult story. I’m so excited for what the author writes next because between this story and Darius, it’s quite apparent the range he can write is vast 😍 Also, to be clear ~ I would let MY children read this at any age, including my 10.5 year old. However I have come to sadly accept that society and I have different feelings about age and books, so I make age recommendations here based on what I have experienced in schools over the past 15 years.

  20. 5 out of 5

    The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori)

    As someone who loved Darius the Great Is Not Okay, I was really excited for this book and its boy band concept. At first, I found the story compelling, but partway through, I had issues with the flat characters, forced messages, and constant Canadian stereotypes. Unfortunately, this one is not for me. I think my main issue with Kiss and Tell is the lack of character development. Hunter is in a band with four other members—members who are also marginalized and face their own struggles—but these o As someone who loved Darius the Great Is Not Okay, I was really excited for this book and its boy band concept. At first, I found the story compelling, but partway through, I had issues with the flat characters, forced messages, and constant Canadian stereotypes. Unfortunately, this one is not for me. I think my main issue with Kiss and Tell is the lack of character development. Hunter is in a band with four other members—members who are also marginalized and face their own struggles—but these other characters barely make an appearance. This is something I’m *maybe* willing to overlook if the main character is complex enough, but I found Hunter self-centred and one-dimensional. Because the characters are flat, the romance also falls flat, and I was a little confused by what the author was going for as Kaivan and Hunter basically start dating because their label suggests it. One of the articles in the book calls this out as a publicity stunt, which is probably meant to counter actuality, but I never felt like this was disproved since Kaivan and Hunter have no connection. This book does tackle many relevant social issues, especially concerning what it is like to be queer in the public eye, but I found that it comes across as preachy at many points. This was a major issue for me with the articles and emails between each chapter, since they often give takes that directly oppose what is actually going on, which quickly becomes repetitive. What really frustrated me is the way certain characters, such as a queer country musician, only exist to make a point. Callum is just a means for the author to critique the way queerness is only deemed acceptable in certain (clean) forms—which is an important point—but this felt forced to me and took away from the powerful messaging at the core of the story. As a Canadian, I also want to comment on the representation of Canada and Canadian culture in this book. I was really disappointed to see it reduced to stereotypes as we are presented with a hit song called “Poutine,” toque-wearing hockey players, a “sexy Mounties” themed music video, and quotes like “What the maple-flavoured fuck?” After so much of this, I wasn’t convinced that it was purely ironic, and I expected better from a book that directly deals with the harm of stereotypes as Hunter struggles to live up to the expectations of being “the perfect queer kid.” While this one was a miss for me, I still appreciate the thoughtful messages and the diversity throughout the story. I can tell by the many positive reviews that it will resonate with many, and I still look forward to more of Adib Khorram’s work in the future.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Monte Price

    I reserve the right to come back after release and change this... I think that there were a lot of interesting conversations that can be had from the content in this book... As for the plot? I'm gonna think on that until I need to get a full review up in March. I reserve the right to come back after release and change this... I think that there were a lot of interesting conversations that can be had from the content in this book... As for the plot? I'm gonna think on that until I need to get a full review up in March.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Adri

    4.5 Stars CWs: experiences of homophobia and some homophobic/sexual slurs; references to racism; descriptions of online harassment and some sexual harassment; mentions of parental death; brief mentions of fatphobia, graphic sports injury, and vomit; instances of underage drinking; and some mild sexual content On the surface, Kiss & Tell promises a simple and straightforward story about a queer boy bander trying to navigate the spotlight, but in true Adib Khorram fashion, it's also so much more 4.5 Stars CWs: experiences of homophobia and some homophobic/sexual slurs; references to racism; descriptions of online harassment and some sexual harassment; mentions of parental death; brief mentions of fatphobia, graphic sports injury, and vomit; instances of underage drinking; and some mild sexual content On the surface, Kiss & Tell promises a simple and straightforward story about a queer boy bander trying to navigate the spotlight, but in true Adib Khorram fashion, it's also so much more! While this is a very different story from Adib's previous books, it has that same level of thoughtfulness and heart at its center. On the one hand, this is a super fun, fast-paced story about a mega-popular boy band blazing across North America on one of their biggest tours, but it's also asking a lot of deeper questions about the cisheteronormativity of the boy band market and what it means to be "visibly queer" online and on stage. As a white cis gay boy, Hunter definitely holds a lot of privilege, and the fact that he's able to be out as a gay man with his label and have it be a non-issue is definitely part of that. However, he's still having to deal with people dehumanizing him and reducing him to nothing more than just a label, and he also finds himself being continuously forced into this "token gay boy" box. Whether it's the way he's told to dress, the kinds of press junkets he's allowed to do, or the content he's allowed to post, every aspect of his expression is carefully controlled by the people around him. There's a compelling contradiction between Hunter having an immense platform that comes with an incredible amount of power and also not having a lot of freedom to choose for himself as a result. I really appreciate how this story makes the reader think about who boy bands are marketed towards and why. Generally speaking, the majority of boy bands are marketed towards younger audiences, and primarily cishet audiences, and they occupy a very strange liminal space where they're expected to be "wholesome" and "virginal" but also attractive and suggestive enough to be "desirable" to their audience. By those standards, Hunter already finds himself at a disadvantage of sorts, because his target audience (young cishet girls) can't romantically project themselves onto him. So his label feels that he has to make up for that quote-unquote "deficit" by really leaning into the stereotypical "twink" styles and mannerisms and molding himself into this perfect, wholesome queer role model for young people. That dilemma further opens up the question of what it even means to *be* a role model, and how that concept in itself can be even more limiting in some ways. Especially as a queer boy, Hunter finds his every action to be put under a microscope, and he finds it harder to make himself seem "perfect" and "wholesome" when he's constantly being confronted by the misconception that sexuality and queerness is solely about the act of sex, when it's not. When his toxic ex drunkenly releases screenshots of Hunter's private conversations, that onslaught of commentary becomes even more pressing. I truly appreciate how Adib Khorram has crafted a sex positive story about a young queer man who's constantly being forced to grapple with the conception that he's either "not gay enough" or "too gay." Especially in a world where queer men are often seen as hypersexual, which is then seen as "shameful" (even though there's nothing inherently bad or wrong about sex), this story makes a powerful statement about embracing those parts of yourself that are deemed "imperfect" and being unafraid to to claim all those messy sides of yourself that don't neatly fit into any box. Being openly queer as a public figure is often a matter of Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't. Every action you take is extrapolated and interpreted as a representation of the entire queer community at large when it shouldn't be, and Hunter having to fight against that feels incredibly realistic. On a lighter note, I also enjoy how this story puts a different spin on the "fake dating" trope. While Hunter and Kaivan are technically dating for real and by their own choice, it still feels like a front at times since the label is intentionally playing it up for press. So you kind of get the best of both worlds, where you get to see this very soft, genuine romantic connection unfold over the course of the story, but there's also your typical "fake dating shenanigans" with all these public-facing dates put on for the fans. Another highlight is the way the story makes use of multi-media interludes between chapters, where you get to see the snippets from various press junkets or interviews, transcripts from Kiss & Tell's documentary, as well as excerpts of blog posts and think pieces. I love the way those pieces of media are able to indirectly build out the "world" of the story and reveal more about the characters from an outside perspective, and it's even interesting to see how the events of the story are being spun by the press for online consumption. It was also nice to have media inserts that were not just interviews, because those added to the larger commentary of how being a queer boy bander complicates the cisheteronormative narrative popularized in the mainstream. There were two tiny things that kept this from being a five-star book, for me personally. The first is that I wish Hunter's bandmates were a little bit more prominent in the story. Besides Hunter, the rest of Kiss & Tell is made up of more ethnically diverse pop stars—who are Vietnamese-, Brazilian-, and Indian-Canadian—and I wish we could have more directly seen the kinds of pressures that *they* face. There's a small discussion of that towards the end, when Hunter's bandmates sort of call him out for assuming that his queerness is a "bigger burden" than the racism they face online, but I think getting to see those experiences or discussions play out would have made that land even better. My second tiny note is that I found myself wanting a bit more from the romantic relationship between Hunter and Kaivan. Throughout the story, it's made clear that Kaivan has somewhat of a superiority complex when it comes to the success of boy bands versus the success of traditional bands, some of which is definitely warranted when you consider the vast disparity between them. However, that leads him to saying some controversial things in his interviews where he openly questions the talent-level, creativity, and integrity of boy banders. When that eventually comes to light, it ends up feeling somewhat glossed over. I think there were more conversations to be had between Hunter and Kaivan to meaningfully reconcile those differences in order for me to feel fully on board with their relationship by the end. Even so, overall I did enjoy the romantic element. As always, I remain absolutely floored by Adib Khorram's ability to craft a deeply meaningful and thoughtful story that's also able to balance humor, romance, and fun. As I said up top, even though this seems like a simple story on the surface, it proves to be so much more and offers the reader a foothold to better grasp deeper questions about societal expectations and self-expression. As with all of Adib's books, I enjoyed this so much, and I absolutely cannot wait to see what he writes next. No matter what it is, I will definitely be reading it!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie (Teacups & Tropes)

    ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ Oooo I loved this. This was my first book from Adib Khorram (although I own Darius the Great Is Not Okay and Darius the Great Deserves Better). Kiss & Tell follows a Canadian boy band on their North American tour. One of the members, Hunter Drake, has broken up with his boyfriend and is thrust into the spotlight when his ex-boyfriend leaks their sexts. I don't know what I was expecting with this book. I thought it might be a little like If This Gets Out but they were completely different ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ Oooo I loved this. This was my first book from Adib Khorram (although I own Darius the Great Is Not Okay and Darius the Great Deserves Better). Kiss & Tell follows a Canadian boy band on their North American tour. One of the members, Hunter Drake, has broken up with his boyfriend and is thrust into the spotlight when his ex-boyfriend leaks their sexts. I don't know what I was expecting with this book. I thought it might be a little like If This Gets Out but they were completely different and I loved that. Hunter was dealing with so much, and honestly, I still feel so bad for him. The pressure from The Label, his friends, the public, his fans, and his love interests... Everything was just piling on top of him until he snapped. Honestly, everyone got off easy imo. I did like how Hunter took what his friends were saying to heart; but I felt as though they still kind of brushed him off. Idk, I think it's just me, but I would've dropped the lot of them and went to live my best life with Masha Patriarki tbh. I DO NOT like Kaivan. I just think there wasn't enough done to redeem him for me. I was suspicious of his motives the whole book and honestly, still sus. Also don't like Aidan either. I'm #TeamHunter. You do you, boo. Love yourself first. <3

  24. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    C/W:(view spoiler)[death of a parent (past, off-page), cyber bulling, online harassment, homophobia (challenged), racism (challenged) (hide spoiler)] Kiss & Tell was a captivating character-driven story that swept me up from the very beginning. The story is told from Hunter's perspective with online news articles and emails from people who work for Kiss & Tell or The Label interspersed between chapters. I really liked how the inclusion of other formats added new information that changed how I vie C/W:(view spoiler)[death of a parent (past, off-page), cyber bulling, online harassment, homophobia (challenged), racism (challenged) (hide spoiler)] Kiss & Tell was a captivating character-driven story that swept me up from the very beginning. The story is told from Hunter's perspective with online news articles and emails from people who work for Kiss & Tell or The Label interspersed between chapters. I really liked how the inclusion of other formats added new information that changed how I viewed the characters -- such as the question about whether Hunter and Kaivan were using their platforms the "right" way to advance queer causes. All of the characters were wonderfully three-dimensional, which I've come to expect from all of Khorram's books. Even the characters I thought I couldn't relate to ended up winning me over by the end. Even if I didn't like the choices they made, I could understand and empathize with why they made them. The character conflicts -- both internal and interpersonal -- are rich and compelling. I was deeply invested in whether things would work out between Hunter and Kaivan as well as whether Hunter would learn how to tell his bandmates he was struggling. One of my favorite things about Kiss & Tell was that it was both an ode to fandom and boy bands but also a critical look at these topics. As a One Direction fan, I definitely noticed some nods to 1D songs in Kiss & Tell's set lists. I'm sure there are even more boy band easter eggs that I missed the first time around. Kiss & Tell was a great book on so many levels. I look forward to reading it and can't wait to see what Khorram writes next.

  25. 4 out of 5

    breana / milkyboos ♡

    the way this book transported me back to my one direction years so vividly the inclusion of tweets, blog posts, interview transcripts, and fanfic dispersed throughout made the reading experience more fun and ~interactive, and i liked that aspect a lot! kiss & tell touches on a lot of themes of queer identity, intersectionality, pressures of fame (specifically for out celebrities to be spokespersons for the whole queer community), and ultimately i think it was a job well done the romance was sweet, the way this book transported me back to my one direction years so vividly the inclusion of tweets, blog posts, interview transcripts, and fanfic dispersed throughout made the reading experience more fun and ~interactive, and i liked that aspect a lot! kiss & tell touches on a lot of themes of queer identity, intersectionality, pressures of fame (specifically for out celebrities to be spokespersons for the whole queer community), and ultimately i think it was a job well done the romance was sweet, while a bit insta-lovey for my taste, and the supporting characters were so much fun to read about - i wish there was more time spent developing the friendships hunter has with each of his band mates since we only really get, like, one important scene each with the four other boys yet they’re clearly such a big presence in the mc’s life overall a fast and fun read, but it doesn’t pack as much of a punch p.s. i’m an ethan nguyen stan, my mischievous son

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mallory

    I’m not sure I’m the target audience for a young adult book about a Canadian both band, but I did enjoy the story and I’m glad I found it. I did struggle through the cliche boy band esque things (like the 17 year old gay member who bragged about his great “hockey butt” about a million times), but underneath that were some really good themes about finding yourself and what it is to be queer or a person of color. I thought the main character Hunter was like able, but I struggled to be even as forg I’m not sure I’m the target audience for a young adult book about a Canadian both band, but I did enjoy the story and I’m glad I found it. I did struggle through the cliche boy band esque things (like the 17 year old gay member who bragged about his great “hockey butt” about a million times), but underneath that were some really good themes about finding yourself and what it is to be queer or a person of color. I thought the main character Hunter was like able, but I struggled to be even as forgiving as he was. I did like the backstage look at the reactions to the trending gossip columns and I liked the mixed media that was included to help tell the story. It was hard to read about Hunter’s struggle with The Label wanting him to be more of their version of what kind of gay he was and I was glad to see his character developed as the story went on. Overall I gave this a 3.5 but I rounded up for excellent representation.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nev

    This was such an interesting look at what it might be like to be a queer member of a super popular boy band. I enjoyed how the book was commenting on the ways that media and members of the public treat queer celebrities. From either over sexualizing them, acting as if their relationships are somehow more explicit than straight relationships, putting the burden of having to represent an entire community on them, to stereotyping or saying that they’re the “wrong” type of queer person. I thought th This was such an interesting look at what it might be like to be a queer member of a super popular boy band. I enjoyed how the book was commenting on the ways that media and members of the public treat queer celebrities. From either over sexualizing them, acting as if their relationships are somehow more explicit than straight relationships, putting the burden of having to represent an entire community on them, to stereotyping or saying that they’re the “wrong” type of queer person. I thought that the little interstitials that were media stories, tweets, interviews from other stars, and opinion pieces from within this world really helped to contextualize what Hunter was going through and explore more of the world of the story. My biggest complaint about the book is that I don’t think that the other band members were as fleshed out as they could’ve been. I enjoyed the aspect of the story where Hunter has to realize that he hasn’t been paying attention to the ways in which his bandmates were also facing bigotry and discrimination. It played an important part in his journey throughout the plot. However I wanted to feel more connected with the other band members and learn more about their stories. I had a pretty hard time remembering who was who and keeping them straight in my mind. But overall I really enjoyed this book and how it looked at queer celebrities and the ways they’re treated in the spotlight.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Drew's ambitious reading

    This was so cute and it was my first book by the author and it had one of my favorite tropes: FAKE DATING!!! Four out of five stars. Can't wait to go back and reading Adib's other two books!(: This was so cute and it was my first book by the author and it had one of my favorite tropes: FAKE DATING!!! Four out of five stars. Can't wait to go back and reading Adib's other two books!(:

  29. 4 out of 5

    Is

    Sometimes I go into a book with a road map of sorts, and sometimes a book completely takes me on a journey of its own. With Kiss & Tell, I find myself still lost. Hunter from the band Kiss & Tell is going through his first, very public, breakup. To make things more complicated, he’s the only gay member in the band, and his ex is the twin brother to his best friend and bandmate, Ashton. Things get even more complicated when his ex-boyfriend goes on Twitter and shares very personal messages that p Sometimes I go into a book with a road map of sorts, and sometimes a book completely takes me on a journey of its own. With Kiss & Tell, I find myself still lost. Hunter from the band Kiss & Tell is going through his first, very public, breakup. To make things more complicated, he’s the only gay member in the band, and his ex is the twin brother to his best friend and bandmate, Ashton. Things get even more complicated when his ex-boyfriend goes on Twitter and shares very personal messages that paint him as a cheater, among other things. Kiss & Tell is supposed to be “a smart, sexy YA novel about a boy band star, his first breakup, his first rebound, and what it means to be queer in the public eye.” I feel like the last two young adult boy band books I’ve read don’t exactly know what type of novel they want to be— is about talking and discussing being LGBT in boy bands, is about the industry, is about falling in love, is about discussing the industry with a side of romance? And though I highly doubt that this novel is supposed to be a serious discussion of queerness in the public eye or in boy bands, it falls short in being entertaining. I feel like this novel was all over the place. Hunter has just broken up with his long-term boyfriend, who as I said is the twin brother to his best friend and fellow band member, but quickly we’re introduced to Kaivan, and it’s not two descriptions after telling us how long and how much Aidan (the ex-boyfriend) and Hunter dated and loved each other, that we’re to believe he’s good to jump into another relationship. And it’s not two days later that Kaivan and Hunter are in a relationship. Between the novel, we have press releases, emails between management, interviews, profiles that should make the novel and the space more interesting, but again it feels like filler more than it moving the story forward or giving an all-around feel to this boy band world. I love when a media transcends spaces and platforms, but instead of just using it as a filler it should give us extra content and at least an insight into the world. There were times where I thought it would go there and actually explore some dangerous and dubious things that happen in the industry but they were just there? Like adults talking about a minor’s sexuality and sex, or teen idols having this daunting pressure to be the perfect and spokesperson for a movement. With Kaivan and Hunter, I didn’t really know if the author wanted to explore PR relationships and use the fake dating trope as a trope. Like that could have been used in a fun way, but instead feels cheap. I never quite knew if Kaivan was with Hunter because he actually liked Hunter or if it was to use him for exposure. In part because I didn’t believe in their romance. At no point did I think that Hunter and Kaivan liked each other, other than a plot device. I just don’t think this novel worked for me because it is so unclear what it wants to be. Where I usually like Khorram’s writing, this one left me wanting. “Sorry, Jill.” I call out. She hates it when we swear. I learned the f-word from my first hockey coach when I was eight years old. The context for his quote, there really was no context. They’re talking about how Ashton and Aidan’s mom doesn’t like cursing and suddenly we get this note about hearing the f word from their hockey coach. Like okay, nobody was talking about that? A lot of the phrases and even the conversations that characters had with each other, came from left field. As if Khorram wanted to talk about a specific thing and just threw it out there. I think every single character and their relationship was just exhausting. Hunter feeling bad for himself, all the other characters then being mad because he was being the white boy and only thinking he’s the one that’s got it bad. Which is a good conversation, but they kept telling Hunter to talk about his feelings only to be like ehhhh, we have it worse so don’t be so selfish. When it all blows up, it feels both contrived and expected, but the resolution feels so cheap and unearned. I felt myself just wanting to finish without really rooting for anything.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Thank you to NetGalley and PenguinTeen for providing an eARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. ahhhhhh the queer musician books just always make me so happy. When I saw this book first being marketed, I knew I had to read it, and its been up with my most anticipated releases of 2022. Kiss and Tell follows a boy band of the same name going on their biggest tour to date. Hunter, who is out and proud, is reeling from a bad breakup with his longtime boyfriend, and the twin of his ba Thank you to NetGalley and PenguinTeen for providing an eARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. ahhhhhh the queer musician books just always make me so happy. When I saw this book first being marketed, I knew I had to read it, and its been up with my most anticipated releases of 2022. Kiss and Tell follows a boy band of the same name going on their biggest tour to date. Hunter, who is out and proud, is reeling from a bad breakup with his longtime boyfriend, and the twin of his bandmate, Aiden. This story navigates being queer in the public eye, as well as racism and homophobia in both daily life and the music industry, but its also a story about messy and complicated falling in love. I read this book it in just over one sitting, and I'm still in kind of a reading slump, so that's pretty impressive for right now. I adore Kaivan, Owen, and Ashton especially. This book is super fast paced and fun, and it also felt like a little tribute to queer culture. The story focuses mostly on our main cis gay boys, but I appreciate how Khorram incorporates discussions about the queer community as a whole into the storyline. There's also some casual background nonbinary, neopronoun, and sapphic rep, as well as many discussions about race. I will say that I wish the actual relationship in the book had a bit more development. Kaivan and Hunter aren't meant to be slowburn, and I liked that, but most of the time we actually see them together are montage-like dates. I wish we got more of those vulnerable and private moments, at least towards the end. I also would have liked to actually see Kaivan's band. We hardly get any interactions with his family, or between Kaivan and the other bandmates like Ashton and Owen. I love both Hunter and Kaivan, and so I just wanted a bit more time to see them as a couple. The ending also felt a little rushed, but that's pretty standard for a romcom, especially ya. I haven't read Adib Khorram's other books, the Darius series, but after this one, I'll definitely be picking them up pretty soon. side note: I really want some poutine rn Content Warnings: racism, homophobia, sexual harassments, bullying, slut-shaming Rep: gay MC, Iranian gay LI, Brazilian-Canadian SC, Vietnamese-Canadian SC, Indian-Canadian SC

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