2 out of 4 stars
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Kicked Around is an erotic novel by Carmine Slate. When computer nerd Erik starts college, he finds himself fascinated by Jessica Moncino, a "goth princess from the neck up with a sexy, sporty, yet hourglass-shaped body." He follows her after class, imagining multiple sexual encounters with her. He fails his audition as a professional stalker, however, losing sight of her on the bus. Thinking he sees her later going into a store, he follows. After buying cigarettes to impress her, he sees that the girl out front smoking isn't Jessica at all. She is Lara, a nude dancer who also does pornographic webcam shows for paying customers. Learning he is a computer programmer, she asks him to set up a website for her subscribers, for which she will pay him with cash and...other benefits. To a porn addict like Erik, the other benefits are irresistible...
Slate really knows his stuff when it comes to computer science. These parts of the book are natural and highly believable. The only downside to this is that, for non-computer people, the in-depth descriptions of programming practices get a little dry after a while. The 4-5 pages of computer theory at the start of the story did have me mentally switching off and skimming past.
Erik is well-portrayed as a hopeless pornography addict, to the point where it takes over his life and everything else starts to suffer. He masturbates many times daily, sometimes so much that it starts to hurt, loses focus on his study, and is unable to calm down or go to sleep without having an orgasm. The way Lara uses sex to get Erik to set up her website with no money down is also good. He forms an emotional connection to her but still questions her motivations, especially when she doesn't want him to kiss her. Is she just using him to get what she wants?
There are some great funny moments in this book, like dopey drug addict Steve barging into Erik's room while he is masturbating: "'I need forty…,' Steve said as he barrels into the room, half stumbling. He sees Erik masturbating in full view of the door. 'Whoa… That's beautiful, man… Nice dick.'" Another is a fellatio scene with Lara where Erik tries to "think unsexy thoughts" to stop himself from having an orgasm too early: "...Math... Do math... Four times two is eight... Four times five is twelve. Four times six is thirteen. Four times seven... Dear god..." This is cleverly done and made me laugh out loud.
Unfortunately, the writing in Kicked Around needs a lot of work. There were many uses of incorrect tense throughout the book, switching from past tense to present tense and back again. I identified ten errors in the first ten pages, seven of which were the incorrect use of the present tense. There is also far too much use of character names in descriptive passages where "he" or "she" would suffice. For example: "Erik could change the principal’s access to the site to a regular teacher if he wanted to. The power Erik felt was amazing. Thinking about how Erik was going to wield this new weapon..." There were plenty of other examples where the over-use of names made sentences clumsy to read.
There are a few passive sentences, such as: "The car was driving down the highway as the daylight was coming to an end." This could be reworded: "The car drove down the highway as daylight came to an end." Better still, Slate could have said whose car, or the make and model, and specified the name of the highway. These sort of details bring creative writing to life. Character speech often begins in the middle of a descriptive paragraph, not a new paragraph, which is confusing when two different characters speak in the same paragraph. Erik's thoughts are also put in quotation marks, so I often confused them as speech. Finally, an unnecessary comma is regularly used after another type of punctuation in speech. For example: "'Stop!,' she yelled."
I rate Kicked Around 2 out of 4 stars. Professional editing would definitely elevate it to 3 stars. I found the storyline engaging, enjoyed the ending, and noticed a few interesting references to a classic children's story. The sex scenes were steamy - if very male-oriented - and, with proper editing, I would recommend this to those who enjoy erotic fiction, although not those offended by explicit descriptions of sexual activity. In its current unedited state, however, it is hard to recommend.
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