Just Stay is a romantic contemporary novel about two college students, Seb and Evan, who struggle with family problems, stumble through university experiences, and slip into a relationship of friendship and love. I rated this at 4 stars. This book contains sexual content and swearing, both of which I am a fan.
“I feel like there’s a festering wound in my chest that I can’t stop poking at, because it hurts when I do, and at least that’s something.”
College really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. At least not for Seb, who spends most of his time studying and working hard, generally annoyed with people and all the dumb stuff they do. It’s what he does, and he’s pretty content with that.
That is, until Evan stumbles into his life, one night. This enigmatic, charismatic guy that every girl on campus seems to be pining over, and whom Seb at first finds just as appealing as he does annoying.
And just like that, everything changes.
Where The Book Began
Originally fanfiction, this work retains the most important characteristic of its form when adapted into a novel – addictiveness. Fanfiction works on a chapter by chapter basis, where each part needs to ignite a need to read more in the reader for them to return each week or so for a new piece of the story. I first came across Just Stay – originally Stay – on Archive of our Own, as a Supernatural alternate-universe fan fiction full of smut and fluff and a beloved, yet non-canon couple. I found it through my love for Supernatural and I stayed for the addictive writing, realistic characters, and intriguing story.
As an AU, the characters no longer belong in the original universe and therefore a reader need not be familiar with the show. The fanfiction has been developed and adapted to become an original novel in its own right and while reading the story, one would not even think it fanfiction or associated with its origins.
What I Liked
The protagonists are relatable with their own distinctive personalities and interesting backgrounds. Seb is dorky and awkward and he hates the robust noise of partying students however his uni experience really comes to life when Evan knocks on his door by mistake. At first Evan appears to be quite the opposite of Seb; he is a guitar-playing, charismatic, and complex character full of energy, confidence, and bad-boy antics. However the boys have much more in common than originally thought and a few convenient run-ins with each other lead them to become best friends… and more. They bring out hidden aspects in each other, Seb steps out of his comfort zone while Evan deals with the emotions and pains he pretends he doesn’t have. They are good for each other.
The storyline is interesting and doesn’t drop dull, however it could be seen as too long. There were a few moments where the story could have climaxed and ended however the reader was given more, and because I really enjoyed the characters, I didn’t mind the prolonged story.
Fox combines sex and romance in a balanced and enjoyable way. There are scenes of described sex that reveal the intense chemistry between the characters and their passion for each other without going into pornographic territory, and this is counter-balanced by fluffy moments of their friendship and love. A perfect harmony was formed, in my opinion, however this is subjective and other readers may feel the sex is too much… it’s up to you.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book and will be rereading it in the future. I would recommend this book to both fans of Supernatural and people who have never heard of the show. It is a great book.
The publishing student in me has to comment on a few design aspects that capture attention. Starting in a positive light, the cover has a matching design to Sweaters and Cigarettes, another m/m contemporary novel by Fox, making a pleasant sight on the bookshelf.
However upon opening the book, the margins of the body text are rather large and the typeface small, creating a lot of white space surrounding a block of tiny letters that were left aligned but not justified (meaning the words weren’t spread across the lines). This did not stop me from reading the book but it did indicate that the author hadn’t used a professional typesetter.*
*this is true to the copy that I have and may not be accurate of other editions
Other Books By Mika Fox
Just Stay and Sweaters and Cigarettes were the first novels self-published by Fox and the only two that I have read (so far!) however this author has since published two more novels, both of which I believe were not fanfiction originally – a fantasy story called Branded and another contemporary Come On Over. Fox also has a project on Patreon called Regeneration, an LGBT science-fantasy story.