Review: Oscar Blows a Gasket by Al Steward and Claire Davis


Title: Oskar Blows a Gasket
Author: Al Steward and Claire Davis
Genre/Themes: YA/NA m/m romance, coming of age
Release Date: 30 March 2018

Author's links: Website / Facebook / Claire on GR /
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My rating: 5 Stars


Oskar Braithwaite is bold, brash and gorgeous. Just ask him.

Armed with designer backpack full of make-up and retro music galore, Oskar sets off for college. And, with attitude even spikier than his heels, nothing is going to hold him back. Except maybe one thing…his past is shouting louder than the 80s songs he adores and it won't be ignored. Behind the effervescence are secrets, lies and sadness. Try as he might, not even Oskar can hide forever, and one day it isn't only pop icon Simon Le Bon who's going to catch up.

Who is writing letters? And why is a spy secretly following?

Enter Bear, with dancing eyes and secrets of his own. Bear's kindness sparkles brighter than Lycra leggings, and everyone knows Oskar loves shiny things. Like every prophecy, their fates seem inevitably linked. As the walls of Oskar's defence crumble, Bear shows his hidden strength, but will it be enough to save them?

Find out in this far-out, zany tale of fame, first love and retro DJs. 


After loving Dear Mona Lisa last year and I was excited to read more by this author duo. I don't read much YA/NA these days but when I was offered an ARC of this book I jumped at the chance. And I am so happy I did, it' such a wonderful story.

What I love the most about Al and Claire's book is the writing style, so lyrical, heavy on metaphors and subtext and at the same time funny at times and it packs a punch with just a few words. I admit it took me a while to get into this story.

We are plunged into the mind of Oskar who is a very unique, whimsical character. I loved his voice though, and the reader gets to know him simultaneously with the other MC, Bear (Gareth). Oskar is special and ordinary at the same time - a young person acting out, being prickly and contrary, making up stories about himself and wearing make-up and fancy clothes as much as an expression of himself but also as an armour against the world who has been nothing but cruel to him so far.

Initially we see the most of Gareth through his letters and we get to know him in the year and half before college and meeting Oskar. WE get to read them parallel to the present-day events in his life and that only made them more poignant and moving. It's Gareth's letters that broke me and made me cry and filled me silent rage and despair for him.

The romance was really moving and tender and volatile and unpredictable, a reflection of a lot of first for both Oskar and Bear. It felt very real, somewhat close to my experiences of being 18 years old. There was lots of confusion and firsts and boldness and shyness, navigating college, new friends, a lover, complicated family dynamics and Oskar and Bear went through all this together becoming a couple that really fitted each other, helped and supported each other. I loved how they completed each other, Gareth getting to read Oskar's moods and somewhat instinctively discovering the best way react/inteact/communicate with him, at the same time Oskar was really good for Gareth boosting his self-confidence and belief in himself and giving him the much needed knowledge that he is worthy of love and affection. 

It was not all drama and angst, there were a tonne of 80s music, good humour, and pure fun. There was a moment around the middle where I was worried for a bit that Oskar was coming off as misogynistic, rather misanthropic, but I was soon proven wrong - he was really caring, too emotional, fragile which he hid behind being sort of bitchy, often quite nasty to the people around him.loved how garrett and oscar found their way to each other, it's about who you are, how you love and care for peope. being gay was a non-issue for most of the MCs and for most of the side characters.

Another concern I had was about the parents and how cruel and unredeemable they seemed initially. I'm really happy that the authors gave them a chance to act as decent human beings in the end. There was not magical forgive and forget but rather honest conversations took place giving just the tiniest hope for them acting better in the future.

In short, this is a beautifully written emotional story of growing up, dealing with some terrible events but mostly, it's hopeful in a way a find much needed in the present day. It doesn't offer a clean solutions to all of the issues Oskar and Gareth face in their lives, it's very much real regarding addiction and neglect but still, it's hopeful, opening up the possibility for better things to come and that is the best things a romance novel can be.

Purchase Links: Amazon / Smashwords

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