The Temperature of Me and You
By Brian Zepka
Narrated by Andrew Gibson
The Temperature of Me and You is a Queer YA novel that follows angst-filled Dylan Highmark who just wants a low-key, stress-free life where he hopes to go mostly unnoticed by the world and its troubles around him. Dylan’s life flips on its head, though, when he meets cute new boy in town, Jordan. But when Jordan accidentally explodes a Dairy Queen Blizzard in his hand and confesses to Dylan he can generate flames from his hands, Dylan’s life becomes anything but stress-free. That, and add to the fact that, somehow, Dylan ends up somehow inheriting Jordan’s powers, albeit with different manifestations, this new couple finds themselves on the run from an evil scientist looking to profit off the many possible scientific discoveries they can make while studying Jordan and Dylan.
I wanted to like this book a bit more than I did at its end, but found myself slightly more disappointed than pleased. While The Temperature of Me and You has a lot to offer—a cute gay couple, likeable side characters, and enough depth to those characters where I was curious to learn more—the lack of explanation in some plot points and the lack of fleshing out the plot to really feel like a complete story had me feeling like, somehow, I had read something more like a novella that was sloppily fleshed out to become a book.
Much of the mystery and intrigue of the plot surrounding Jordan’s powers felt more like a slapped on background to a gay YA romance than actually being essential to the plot. Much of the conflict—the two protagonists being followed by HydroPro, the company that accidentally created Jordan—has me scratching my head most of the book. The conflict is riddled with questions throughout, and while the plot twist at the end is supposed to be this seemingly big “Aha!” moment, it just left me asking more questions. I get that, yes, the book is technically a romance, but the lack of fleshing out its more SciFi elements makes it feel more of an interruption to the romance plot than adding to the plot.
Even stranger, there were some pieces of dialogue that felt as though they were forcing the plot to move in a certain direction to force the reader to care about the mystery around Jordan and Dylan’s powers, rather than more authentically building that intrigue up through more interesting, nuanced dialogue to the point where most of the story feels as though Dylan is passively being pushed around by the events around him. Yes, part of that is part of the plot—that by the end, Dylan decides he needs to take his life into his own hands. But by the time I found myself rooting for Dylan as he takes control of his life, the book quickly concludes with a sloppily set up plot twist and a neat little bow that feels a bit undeserved.
That all being said, I would like to read a book from this author that’s just YA romance rather than something that’s supposed to be a SciFi YA Romance. Where I felt myself really enjoying the book was when the author was authentically weaving in the awkwardness of puberty all while wrestling with themes that, in a way, are somewhat out of our control and beyond us—like trying to find our purpose in life before college, trying our best to find life goals while just beginning your journey of self-discovery, all while just trying to be a kid.
Had the author just stuck to a more YA contemporary plot, I think it would have played to their strengths rather than getting what we got—somewhat of what seemed like an experimental book for the author that flopped and disappointed instead of wowing their readers.