The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice & Virtue by Mackenzi Lee | Review

5/5 Stars.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: homophobia, epilepsy, racism, ableism, PTSD, alcoholism, parental abuse.

SIDE NOTE: I’m not 100% on all those triggers, I’m not a diversity blogger (despite loving when it is featured) so I will do some more research as this book continues to be reviewed and come back and edit this at a later date!

Going into this book I had little to none expectations. Why? Purely because I kept seeing this book hyped on all social media platforms. Everyone was saying it was great. I received an early copy but wasn’t able to get around to it before the books release, unfortunately. Now that I’ve read it, I wish I had made time for this book because wow. 

This story follows Monty, Percy and Felicity in a Victorian era. The trio are going through Europe on Monty’s Tour – but each of them have conditions that will be met when they return to England at the end of the year. Felicity will be at finishing school, Percy going to law school, and Monty taking over his father’s business. Sounds fantastic, right? Wrong. There are underlying problems that make each circumstance that may sound fantastic, not.

The major problem that we learn comes around about 30% into the two years. Now, I have been hunting for a book that features epilepsy for around five years. I have found nothing or simply books that don’t interest me. Epilepsy is using the brunt of jokes in books as well. However, Mackenzi Lee writes epilepsy perfectly within this book. At least for me.

My mum had her first fit when I was 10. Terrifying. She was in a coma for four days and died three. It didn’t happen again and I simply forgot. Until I was 15 and they started again. However, they didn’t go away. For five years, my sister and I have been caring for my mum and facing the repercussions that come with the stigma of epilepsy. So, seeing a fit written perfectly, in my opinion, had me sobbing in my room.

Now, I’m not a minority in any way. I’m cis, white and straight. But, seeing epilepsy represented in YA fiction is so important to me. I’ve seen people flinch when I tell them my mum has epilepsy and my sister has had friends bully her over it. So, a positive representation of epilepsy was very important to me.

I’ve read a review saying that they DNF’ed this book at the point the epilepsy was introduced because of ableism themes. The ableism themes that are featured though are accurate to what I felt when my mum received her diagnosis. How can I fix this? How is this going to affect my life? Sure, that’s wrong and I admit that but I was 15 and my family had just left a domestic violence situation. I think Monty’s reaction to discovering his best friend had epilepsy was very real.

I also want to touch on the PTSD that is featured in this book. That too was real. I suffer from PTSD and the descriptions are scenarios I have felt. There were times when a touch to my face would give me a panic attack. So seeing a character suffer from another circumstance I had faced? Amazing.

I’m not even sure how to get into the plot. I am just so in love with every event and scenario that took place. I was never bored. Not once during a single scene which is amazing. I fell so in love with the writing style, the dialogue and even the descriptions of scenes. I felt each character was fleshed out perfectly and not a single one was unnecessary to the plot.

The romance as well! I’m not a big fan of romance in books. I love plot over romance. But, around one chapter in I was already in love with the romance between Monty and Percy. They were both such beautiful characters that made me want to cry, whether they were together or not. They are simply so beautifully written.

I mean, just check out this perfect fan art of them;

source: https://twitter.com/ToriRyan90 

Felcity is also the love of my life and actual girl crush.

My only problem with this book was that Monty got a little annoying to me. I was rolling my eyes sometimes at his actions. However, the fact he had great communication skills in other scenes gave me the ability to overlook that.

I just can’t recommend this book enough. If not for its diverse cast, then for the fact this book displays PTSD and epilepsy in such realistic ways that this will stay with me for a long time.

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7 thoughts on “The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice & Virtue by Mackenzi Lee | Review

    • It was only one character showing this behaviour, the protagonist who believes he’s helping his friend be “cured”. I personally believe the behaviour was reprimanded, but it was something that didn’t occur until close to the end of the book. It’s definitely not shown as an acceptable behaviour, in my opinion!

      Liked by 1 person

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