Home Run strikes out

In life, there are very few certainties. Two of them are death and taxes. Paul Kropp’s latest book, Home Run, reminds the reader of another certainty: guys think about sex a lot. Like, all the time.

The second book in the series, Home Run chronicles the journey of young Alan Macklin as he makes the leap from small-town Manitoba to the fictitious Burrard University in search of enlightenment, education and premarital coitus. A neophyte in the ways of the flesh, Alan’s efforts are ironically aided by his born-again Christian roommate Kirk and best friend/ex-girlfriend Maggie. Despite having some strong portions, Home Run is anything but overall.

The glaring flaw in the book is the gross simplicity of the premise: Alan wants to get laid. Badly. The first quarter of the novel is spent introducing characters and their motivations, making it all-too-obvious who Alan is going to end up in bed with from the outset (here’s a hint: it’s a girl). The fact that the reader figures out the plot’s “mystery” within minutes makes the rest of the proceedings–multiple bait and switches involving Alan and an endless line of women–tiresome to endure. Aiming the book at young adult readers also means that the steamy parts are written with all the eroticism of a bad grocery store romance novel: it’s the literary equivalent of watching a porno on cable in the ’80s.

The story is also padded out with a virtual paint-by-numbers canvas of literary cliches and bad allusions to better stories. There’s a heavy-handed homage to The Graduate and a subplot is taken straight from the cinematic epic You’ve Got Mail. Additionally, outside of the three main characters, everybody is a plot device or a stereotype. Kirk’s parents, in particular, are drawn as Alberta rednecks devoted to religion and guns.

The strength of the book, by far, is the interplay between Alan and Kirk. Despite being complete opposites, desperate horndog and uptight Christian, the pair manage to cultivate a believable friendship that manages to carry the novel throughout. The portions featuring Alan and Kirk are strong enough to make a reader wish it was the them who hooked up at the end. Unfortunately, the rest of the book is filled with enough bad innuendo, tiresome subplots and badly-written characters to make reading Home Run tougher than rounding second at Bible Camp.

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