The series opens with The Bully, which explores the depths to which a young man will go to get revenge upon the bully who tormented him through high school and into college. It is here that we are exposed to the possibilities of genetic re-engineering for the first time, with Leo slowly transformed into an emasculated sissy. The level of detail invested in the transformation is superb, and I loved how Jenkins took someone who so clearly deserved punishment, and dealt so softly with his acceptance of the changes.
A Warning switches everything up, introducing us to a violent vigilante and the drug dealer he crosses for the last time. While it was easy to cheer on Leo's transformation in the first book, it is hard not to feel sorry for Maurice's similar plight here. We know he is being wrongfully punished by a career criminal, but Jenkins keeps us engaged by removing any cruelty from the scenario. There is a natural curiosity behind Maurice's response to his diminished stature, fresh curves, and newly discovered erogenous zones, with the climax a pleasant surprise.
If you consider the first three stories to be something of a trilogy, then Nepotism definitely ends things on a high note. While this is another story of revenge, it is an innocent victim who finds himself transformed in an effort to shame and punish his father. What makes this chapter so compelling is the nature of that relationship, with Phillip coming to enjoy his role as an emasculated sissy, and Tony suffering a guilty fascination in witnessing the video evidence. This is also the first story where Dr. Omar Bell takes a starring role . . . and where we begin to understand his plans.
The Island of Dr. Bell marks a pivotal point in the series, a stand-alone novella that builds upon the transformations of the first three stories, while shifting the focus from petty revenge/punishment schemes to Dr. Omar Bell's plans for global change. The island itself is an experiment, with men and women of different races brought together to perfect the dispersal method for Bell's plague (which they all believe to be a revolutionary super-vaccine) while unknowingly serving as guinea pigs for societal transformation.
By far the biggest, deepest, and most complex of the stories in the series, this novella demonstrates the true 'genius' of Bell's plan (and, incidentally, of Jenkins' imagination). We get to witness transformation on a massive scale, with the emasculated sissies undergoing the change while part of a society, rather than as lone subjects, locked away from the world.. The interplay between characters, the doubts, the suspicions, and the unguarded moments all make for a wonderful story, even as we realize their efforts to earn their freedom will doom all of humanity.
Becoming a Boi marks the start of a new trilogy, this time of stories set in a world where Bell's grand scheme has already been unleashed. Slowly, over the course of months, men all over the world find themselves being transformed into emasculated sissies, while society races to catch up with this massive shift in gender politics and sexual ethics. The whole marketing aspect of boi's clothes is wonderful, and the bathroom wars of the last couple of years are handled simply and logically. What I loved most about this chapter is that we get to witness the change through the eyes of a happily married couple, who are forced to adapt to Bill slowly becoming Billie. Both smart and emotionally charged, this chapter really does a wonderful job of exploring the new reality, including some necessary sexual experimentation between husband and wife (and others).
Taking place at the same time as the last book, with global transformation just beginning, The Football Star looks at events through a younger generation. It feels like this is the first story in the series when a character really-and-truly struggles with the transformation, fighting it (and its implications) every step of the way. It makes for a sadder tale than the rest, but also a more well-rounded one, as we really do get to see a young couple struggle to make the transition from boy/girl lovers to boi/girl friends work. I hate to call it the most realistic of the series, as I think Jenkins has consistently done a fantastic job of dealing with the changes, but I suspect some readers may resonate more with the reluctance here than the gleeful acceptance elsewhere.
Frat Bois also takes place at the dawning of the new world, with the transformation just beginning to take place, but explores it through the microcosm of a college fraternity. Here we have dozens of young men who suddenly find their voices breaking, their hair falling out, and their nipples growing. Jenkins deals with the embarrassment of transforming in such an intimate situation, and leads us through the reversal of roles, as the frat bois give turn from molesting strippers to being molested themselves. I like the rivalry here between best friends who feel compelled to give into peer pressure and explore their boundaries, with a nice of wanton depravity leading to some surprise life choices.
In each of the final three books, Jenkins teases a further reveal of Dr. Omar Bell's true depths, involving a secret, twenty-year experiment involving his hometown. Where that story thread will lead remains to be seen, but this is shaping up to be a fantastically imaginative erotic saga.