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Swipe Right for Murder

Book review by
Lucinda Dyer, Common Sense Media
Swipe Right for Murder Book Poster Image
Teen takes on terrorists in page-turning LGBTQ thriller.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

There's a lot of learning what not to do (hook up with strangers), and the storyline also highlights the dangers of extremism and domestic terrorism in today's world.

Positive Messages

Never be afraid to confront your past. Being honest about your past allows you to move forward.

Positive Role Models & Representations

As the book begins, there's not much to recommend Aidan as a role model. But as the story unfolds, and he's faced with making difficult moral choices, he steps up and does the right thing.

Violence

Bodies (both killed and wounded) are everywhere in this story. Three anti-LGBTQ lawmakers are murdered, Aidan kills men who are trying to kill him, drones and snipers kill everyone as an anti-LGBTQ church group pickets a gay funeral, and innocent people are targeted by tear-gas-spewing drones and killed by arrows from a crossbow.

 

Sex

A teen boy recounts an affair with the father of a high school classmate, and later begins to understand the emotional damage he's suffered from it. Boy recalls having sex with a pool boy while on vacation with his family. He uses a gay hookup app called DirtyPaws to connect and have sex with an older man. Beyond kissing, lustful thoughts, and a bit of undressing, nothing is graphically described. 

Language

A fair amount of profanity ("f--k," "s--t," "motherf----r," "goddamn," "bitch").

Consumerism

Casual references to movies and TV shows (Westworld, Arrow, Riverdale, The Dark Knight, even The Great British Baking Show) throughout the book.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Derek Milman's Swipe Right for Murder was inspired by the classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller North by Northwest. As Milman's story begins, a gay 17-year-old named Aidan Jamison hooks up and has sex with with an older stranger at a New York hotel. When the stranger ends up murdered, Aidan goes on the run, pursued by a mysterious gay terrorist group called the Swans, who want the "item" he took from the hotel room. There's a high body count in this novel (people are killed by guns, drones, arrows, and even a paperclip) and a fair amount of profanity ("f--k," "s--t," "motherf----r," "goddamn," "bitch"). Although Aidan's sexual encounters are not described much past kissing and a bit of undressing, the story never addresses the real-life dangers of teens using an app to look for sexual partners.

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What's the story?

When 17-year-old Aidan Jamison signs onto DirtyPaws, a gay hookup app, he has no idea he's about to SWIPE RIGHT FOR MURDER. Aidan gets together and has sex with a man named Benoit, a fellow guest at the New York City hotel where he's staying, and it goes terribly wrong. When Aidan wakes up, he discovers that Benoit's not sleeping but has been shot dead. His only thought is to get out of the hotel room and hope no one discovers he's been there. Too late for that, as he answers Benoit's phone and finds himself talking to someone from a group called the Swans. The caller thinks Aidan is a Mr. Preston and that he has an "item" they want him to hand over. Aidan finds himself on the run, chased by the Swans, a gay terrorist group that's targeting and murdering anti-LGBTQ lawmakers and protesters. Contacted by the mysterious Mr. Preston, Aidan travels to the Adirondacks to meet him and finds himself in the midst of a drone attack by the Swans. And tangled up with the FBI, who may or may not be the good guys.

Is it any good?

Mistaken identity, attack drones, mysterious gay terrorists, and a teen hero haunted by his past make for a fast-paced often complicated but ultimately satisfying LGBTQ thriller. There's a lot going in Swipe Right for Murder. Sometimes it's hard to follow the twists and turns (will we ever find out why photos of Aidan were on Benoit's phone?) and a few things may be a bit over the top (murder by paper clip) or simply inexplicable (why, when he's being hotly pursued by men who want to kill him, does Aidan take time out to meet his family for dinner in a restaurant?). Still, it's an engaging page-turner that tackles serious issues of homophobia and domestic terrorism.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the morality of the terrorist group's cause in Swipe Right for Murder. Do you think violence is ever justified when trying to right an injustice? 

  • How does reading a thriller compare with watching one on TV or at the movies? 

  • Have you or any of your friends ever dated someone you met online? What kind of precautions should you take before going out with someone you haven't met in person?

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