The Other Five Percent, by Quinn Anderson
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: July 10, 2017
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Logan Vanderveer has a joke he’s been telling since college: he’s ninety-five percent straight. He did some experimenting in school, but none of the men he fooled around with inspired him to abandon “the plan”: meet a nice girl, get married, and settle down, just like his parents always said.
None of them except Ellis Floyd, who aroused desires and feelings that scared Logan. So much so that he abandoned their burgeoning relationship just as it might have become something. But four years later, Ellis is back, and Logan finds himself questioning his sexuality in a big way.
Ellis doesn’t fit into Logan’s plan. He’s happy being a starving artist, whereas Logan has sold his soul to corporate America. Ellis is ripped jeans, and Logan is tailored suits. And, most notably, Ellis is out. But seeing him again is dredging up memories—like how it feels to kiss Ellis, and that time they almost went all the way. With chemistry like theirs, Logan isn’t sure he can—or should—keep ignoring the other five percent.
Logan Vanderveer lives a bland, normal adult (damn it) life. He’s got a leather briefcase and nice suits and got hired to a good position at a young age (he’s 23). The most upsetting thing in his life at the moment is that he gave up smoking three months ago and sometime the line at Starbucks (caffeine is his replacement vice) is too long, so he’s not always as early to work as he’d like to be.
Basically, everything is on track going towards the goal that’s been in front of him since he was a child: Go to college (check), get a job (check), marry a woman, and have kids. He’s aiming for the whole white picket fence routine.
Never mind that he’s always been attracted to men as well as women or that he fooled around with guys in college. He’s straight. Mostly. 95%.
Dearest readers, Logan is totally in the closet. Deeply. He’s so convinced he’s straight that he’s STR8. He blithely lives his life completely glossing over the fact that in college he was head over heels for, and smitten with, his best friend Ellis Floyd.
And then, on a trip to his local Starbucks, he sees Ellis again. He does what any man who is deeply closeted might do upon seeing the man that he once was so damn into: He runs the fuck away.
Ellis is everything Logan is not: Out, proud, sloppy, colorful, works jobs with odd hours. He’s also everything Logan wants.
Logan just doesn’t want to admit that. Yeah, they were good friends in college and man, Ellis has the prettiest eyelashes, but he can’t actually remember why they stopped talking, since he more or less blanked that out of his memory.
Ellis remembers, though, and it ain’t pretty. Ellis is also very aware that Logan is bisexual and closeted. He also misses Logan like whoa.
The Other Five Percent revolves around Logan coming to terms with his feelings for Ellis and his coming out as bisexual. It’s also about Ellis’s forgiveness of Logan for being such a goddamned putz and also the fact that he ghosted on Ellis in college in a really bad and hurtful way.
There are things I love about this book and things that frustrated me.
I love the voice. As a writer, I’m jealous of the voice. The voice of Logan is so grandly done that the book often reads like first person, despite being in third person.
The story is told entirely from Logan’s point of view. I got the sense of Logan’s flightiness and his avoidance and his deep need to be seen as a normal adult. There’s fear in Logan and it comes out as a subtle undercurrent to everything he does. I also saw just how bi Logan was and how, frustratingly, Logan didn’t see how bi he was. Logan is an unreliable narrator, and you can see and feel it in the text.
Logan’s voice also captures the quarter-life anxiety a lot of us go through in spades, too.
But that same voice frustrated me. Logan thinks and says a lot of bi- and queer-phobic things in his ignorance and closetcase-ness. While Ellis corrects him and calls him on the things he says, and Logan eventually realizes and voices that he’s bisexual, there’s a distinct lack of deep introspection about it, despite him saying he needed to.
For much of the book he acts a lot like that STR8 guy who says he has no issues with gays, but totally has issues with queer people. In Logan’s case, his issues stem from his own unexamined sexuality and fear of not being that white-picket-fence guy.
It’s an explanation, but not an excuse. I really wanted Logan to do more of a deep dive on his feelings and issues, rather than skimming the surface of them. But then again, Logan is a pretty live-in-the-now kind of person, so perhaps this matches his characterization.
However, I don’t entirely buy that he blanked out his memory of what happened between him and Ellis in college. I would’ve liked to have seen far more rumination of this. Or more discussion and groveling on Logan’s part when he an Ellis talked about it. Logan needs to grovel a lot more than he did. A lot.
I’m also puzzled as to why Ellis puts up with Logan being such a putz and why he’s still in love with him. Since the book is entirely from Logan’s POV, we can’t see that so clearly. On the other hand, I don’t think a dual POV would have worked against Logan’s very strong voice.
As I said, Logan does eventually accept his bisexuality, and his attraction and love for Ellis, and for that, I’m grateful. He comes to realize he doesn’t have to work toward that white-picket-fence idea of a “normal” marriage to a woman and kids and all, since he’s found the love of his life again. That it’s entirely fine for the love of his life to be a man. The ending is a nice, solid HEA.
Is the book bi-phobic? No, I don’t think so. Ellis constantly reminds Logan that bisexuality exists and does call him out on the queer-phobic things Logan voices. It’s pretty evident that the author is presenting bisexuality as a valid and real sexual identity.
“…But out of curiosity, how can you call yourself straight if you admit to being attracted to men?”
“It’s kind of an inside joke I tell people. I’m ninety-five percent straight.”
“Or you’re one hundred percent bisexual.”
(Bet you can guess who’s saying what there without dialogue tags.)
Is Logan bi-phobic? Yeah, when he starts out, I think he is…or at least bi-ignorant. He comes around in the end, though.
That’s…actually and painfully true to life, at least in my own experiences.
My own path to recognizing my bisexuality was filled with thoughts that if I like men, I must be straight, because liking guys meant I wasn’t a lesbian, even if I liked women. Add to that the thought that my attraction to women must be a phase or an experiment, because all women do that, right?
Later, I even went through the percentage of straight and gay thing. I basically had the idea that bisexuality was not real crammed down my throat and that people experimented in college. If you liked the opposite sex, you were straight.
All those things are bi-phobic. They’re all things I believed at one point, despite being bisexual.
So I understand that part of Logan’s characterization. I just wish I’d seen more of the rumination process before he was happily claiming the bisexual label…and maybe a little more regret for the shit he said and put Ellis through.
Overall, I enjoyed to book, despite the frustrating aspects. Logan’s path to accepting his bisexuality, I feel, is a legitimate one. I just think there could have been more introspection and conversation about this. The book is short enough (~44,000 words) that a few thousand more words wouldn’t have made it too long at all.
I suspect this will be one of those books people will either like or hate, though, depending on their own experiences.
I don’t usually give stars with my reviews, since I’m an author in the same genre…but in this case, I was reading this as a loud-mouthed bisexual on twitter, so I’m going to.
I would rate this as a 3.75 stars for me. It’s not quite a four star book because of the shallowness of Logan’s coming-to-terms, but it is a good book. If there’d been more from Logan, it would probably have been a 4.5 star read for me.
Short form: The writing is lovely, the voice is grand, I want to throttle Logan, Ellis is a saint, and I needed a lot more grovel and embarrassed introspection from Logan about the shit he said and thought.
Quinn Anderson is an alumna of the University of Dublin in Ireland and has a master’s degree in psychology. She wrote her dissertation on sexuality in popular literature and continues to explore evolving themes in erotica in her professional life.
A nerd extraordinaire, she was raised on an unhealthy diet of video games, anime, pop culture, and comics from infancy. She stays true to her nerd roots in writing and in life and frequently draws inspiration from her many fandoms, which include Sherlock, Harry Potter, Supernatural, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Buffy, Marvel, and more. You will often find her interacting with fellow fans online and offline via conventions and tumblr, and she is happy to talk about anything from nerd life to writing tips. She has attended conventions on three separate continents and now considers herself a career geek. She advises anyone who attends pop culture events in the UK to watch out for Weeping Angels, as they are everywhere.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.