Investigating Julius Drake, by Daisy Harris
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: October 3, 2016
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
After arriving at Seattle’s prestigious Clinton Academy, fourteen-year-old Henry Walker realizes he won’t fit in. If he’s going to run with the rich and powerful, he’ll have to hide his modest background, his lack of interest in girls, and most importantly, his fascination with his handsome but troubled classmate Julius Drake.
When Julius draws Henry into the investigation of a classmate’s suicide attempt, Henry can’t resist the case—or Julius. Soon, Henry’s not only facing the truth about his feelings for Julius, but also risking his life to unmask a social media imposter. “The Other Woman” is manipulating his classmates, searching out their vulnerabilities, and driving them to desperate actions. Julius himself is at risk, what with his callous parents threatening to send him away, and his mental health taking a beating both at school and at home.
If Henry’s going to save the day and get the boy of his dreams, he’ll have to stop worrying what everyone thinks and stop pretending to be someone he’s not. Most of all, Henry will have to be honest about who he loves.
Warnings: Emotional Abuse, Self-Harm
Young Adult books can be tough for me, partly because I’m not a kid anymore, but mostly because I often feel like the writing doesn’t reflect the things kids would actually say and do. If the voice of a YA book sounds like a 40-year-old wrote it, it’s going to be hard for me to connect with the characters and story. That is definitely not the case with Investigating Julius Drake. I think Harris does an incredible job of depicting the lives of these high school kids. I even thought while reading that she either has a very good memory for what it was like when she was that age or she definitely did her homework. The dialogue and behaviors were age appropriate and it brought back memories of my own high school days.
I really hope this book finds its way into school libraries. LGBTQIA+ kids need more books depicting what they go through as they juggle school, friends, and figuring out who they are.
One of the things I really loved about Henry is that while he’s busy investigating a mystery with Julius, we get to go on a journey of self-discovery with him. He’s coming to terms with who he is but his immediate concern is making new friends. I felt that this is so realistic to what kids go through when they move to a new school. He may crush on boys, but at 14 it’s definitely not the most important thing to him. He just wants to be liked and he won’t be pressured into making any decisions on who he should date until he takes the time to think it through – and that’s okay.
We only get Henry’s POV but I think Harris writes his internal thoughts in a way that let’s us get a peak into Julius’ head. This is something that becomes more prevalent as Henry starts picking up Julius’ observant attention to detail. Julius is one of the more interesting characters I’ve read in a long time. I did worry about his obsession with solving the case but I think all the things that make up his character have him misunderstood most of the time.
I felt there were a lot of positive messages throughout the book and some of them are subtle so it’s not like a lecture is being shoved in the reader’s face. They run the gamut from the dangers of online predators to the fact that seeing a therapist can be a huge help when dealing with the stress of being a teenager.
This was a very quick read that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go until I turned the last page. The story is written very well and I felt there’s a good balance between the mystery and romance plots. The investigation is entertaining but it’s still about Henry and Julius and how their friendship is slowing becoming something more.
I wouldn’t mind reading more of Henry and Julius’ adventures. This book could easily become a series where we follow them as they grow up and grow closer all while solving more mysteries. It isn’t just for kids, either. If you’re into YA books, readers of any age will enjoy this one. I definitely recommend it.
Born into the psychedelic wonder that was the seventies, Daisy Harris has had an interesting life so far. She’s been to Catholic school and Ramones concerts, danced to MC Hammer and Flo Rida, made the honor roll and Phi Beta Kappa, survived cholera, faced bed bugs, and she’s been a hair’s breadth from shipwreck twice. (Three times, if you count sea kayaks!)
Daisy has been a lifelong reader, devouring romance, young adult, urban fantasy, and nonfiction alike. In her professional life, she’s written medical copy and edited scientific papers. However, since 2012, she’s devoted her energy to writing gay romance full-time. That’s okay, because now on the weekends she reads medical studies for fun.
As far as Daisy’s concerned, the best things in life happen by accident. Though she’s gotten better at planning over the years, she still writes, lives, and plays by the seat of her pants. Her books are a happy mix of mysteries, romantic comedies, and coming-of-age stories, more often than not inspired by the great films of the 1980s.
Daisy lives in Seattle in a house full of dogs and children. When she’s not writing gay fiction, she can be found riding her exercise bike and testing the outer boundaries of her food processor’s potential. Every once in a while, she goes out to pay homage to the party gods of her youth—and maybe to find a little trouble.
You can purchase Investigating Julius Drake from:
Barnes & Noble
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.