I knew coming into this book that the characters would be exceptional, with just enough of a twist to make them familiar but not ordinary, as they face situations that will have a familiar feel to readers from all walks of life. Yseult writes for the YA market, and also under another pen name (Kallysten) for adults, and every title from her that I read manages to strike that balance between action / conflict and characters.
In this story, set in an alternate reality, we meet Tyler and Connor. Both are students at an exclusive government-run school, with a focus on the uniquely gifted or talented qualities of its students. Tyler is hand-picked to be an interpreter for Connor, a young man that is classified as a Prophet, for his ability to predict future events. From the very beginning of the story, Connor tells Tyler that he will only be his interpreter for two years, for he has foreseen his own death at age 18.
Tyler almost instantly connects to Connor, part of the initial attraction is physical, but the two seem to have a curious ability to communicate, with Connor’s oddly phrased utterances that make little sense in common conversation. Tyler is also kind-hearted, and unwilling to allow the other students at school to bully Connor, or to bully him. Comfortable with his own choices and preferences, Tyler has been bullied and scorned before, coming out and having relationships while in high school is a brave choice, and not one that all people will accept.
Connor has been predicting and seeing things since he was a young child: his sister has always understood his gift and words, but a prediction that Connor made at ten that wasn’t believed have further shattered his own confidence and he despises the gifts he has been given. Feeling and seeing the death and destruction is not an easy load to bear – put that onus onto a child and the weight must be intolerable. And Connor, to shut out the visions and pain, has turned to ‘dreams’ an injectable drug that seems to be similar to heroin, with near disastrous results for the users.
This is a story that shows a relationship developing, with honest affection and caring between Tyler and Connor. Tyler will correct Connor’s rude and bad behaviors, he will protect him from the bullies, and convince him to play along with some of the expectations for the continued benefits and rewards. In return, Connor learns to open up and trust in Tyler’s intentions to be with him, be a friend, and to care for him – even when Connor isn’t particularly nice.
And the story unfolds, readers are placed in Tyler’s head: watching him struggle with the frustrations inherent in dealing with Connor, and his worries about his two year partnership’s end. We get glimpses of Tyler’s reasons for moving across country to avoid his family, and his own desire to make a mark, his battles with Connor’s sister in trying to get her to trust in him, and to make her relationship with her brother better, and his desire to protect Connor from the newly arrived “prophet” Christensen and his apparent vendetta against Connor.
I was expecting a tearful read: yes there were several moments that did make my heart ache for either Connor or Tyler or the both of them. But, Yseult managed to turn every tearful moment around and give moments that rang out with pure joy and lightness. Emotionally honest with elements that will feel familiar to every reader, the insecurities, conflicts and relationship between Tyler and Connor and their interactions with the world feels familiar and realistic.
I loved that Yseult did not make huge proclamations about the boys’ sexual preferences, keeping their relationship sweetly innocent with hugs and kisses, wholly appropriate for the ages, and far less daring than many other reads for this genre.
Be aware – yes there is the aftermath of drug use in a completely honest and realistic portrayal that combines the danger with possible reasons why it would be a choice. And the characters are unapologetically and openly homosexual, there is a male / male romance storyline that is underneath the bigger and more important element that is the honesty of the relationship: their friendship, trust, pains and struggles to move forward. A truly unique and innovative read that will please many readers – and is the perfect choice for a thoughtful teen or YA reader.
Title: You Promised Me Two Years
Author: Angela Yseult
Genre: Teen Reads, Urban Fantasy
Published by: Self-Published
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google ♦Audible
When Tyler became Connor’s interpreter, he thought all that entailed was translating the Prophet’s cryptic messages about future events.
However, it doesn’t take him long to realize Connor needs more than that. First and foremost, he needs a friend, someone who will stand up for him at the Academy, the elite school they both attend and where Connor, despite his talent, is far from popular. He also needs someone who understands that, for him, the talent of prophecy is a curse he would get rid of if he only could, a curse that pushes him toward substance abuse and oblivion.
It also doesn’t take Tyler very long before he starts seeing Connor as more than a friend, and he’s lucky enough to have Connor return his feelings. Just as things begin to settle down, however, the arrival of a new Prophet at the Academy threatens Connor’s hard-won and still-fragile peace of mind.
Through it all, Tyler is all too aware that every day brings Connor closer to being eighteen, the age of his prophesized death, two years after their first meeting.
[Because it deals with themes such as drugs and sexuality and includes some swearing, this book is intended for mature young adults.]
A copy of this title was provided via Author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.