Don’t Be Cruel 2 in 1, Volume 1 by Yoneou Nekota

As much as I have enjoyed Viz’s fantastic SUBlime line of books, this one hit a sour note for me right from the beginning. I’m not now nor will ever be a fan of this type of premise for a romance; and even then, the ‘romance’ itself is tepid at best. Both characters were pretty hard to like or even want to follow/cheer. The story meanders and the usual romance tropes are thrown in haphazardly (rivals, big misunderstanding, inability to communicate, etc.). The whole thing lacked conviction for me.

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Story: Rich and bored, Maya sees an opportunity to take advantage of his scholarship-dependent school mate. Entrapping him with a cheating scandal, Maya forces Nemugasa to be his sexual toy or risk being expelled from the prestigious school. For Maya, it starts out as a game but soon becomes serious. For Nemugasa, it’s a chore at first but soon he comes to enjoy it.

So, right off the bat, the description of the story should give an idea of why this story just doesn’t work. I get the whole ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ thing – but not like this. The whole premise is abhorrent – and why should we really like a character that would do that to another? Not to mention Maya is emotionally distant and stunted (not to mention rude) throughout. Thoroughly unlikeable.

As well, Nemugasa takes it always (in more ways than one) and never seems to be emotionally injured by it at all. Instead, we’re supposed to believe he begins to like it because, hey, Maya lets him study with him after each rude demand for immediate one-sided satisfaction. Nemugasa honestly was a bore.

I could go on but I think most people can get the idea if this story is for them or not. I just didn’t find much to recommend it. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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