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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-01-22 22:39
Wilder Girls-Review
Wilder Girls - Rory Power

I am overly conflicted about this book. There are many aspects I liked about it : the body horror, the government cover up, and the queer aspects just to name a few, but there are many aspects about it that just fell flat for me. In fact I was quite nervous to finish it because quite certain that however it may it that it was going to ruin the entire book for me. I put off the ending,aka the last two chapters, to the point that I finished an entire Pet Sematary audiobook before I finally went back to finish it.

 

As much as I love darker themed young adult novels, I was really wanting it to be darker than it ended up being . I realize this is a personal issue and had I wanted to read a darker body horror novel there are plenty of adult novels that would have been better suited to my needs. Even so I was still expecting just a bit more from this one.A lot of my issues, though, with this book in particular plot points that to me do not make sense. For instance more than half way through the book an incident with the fence safe-guarding the school from the twisted animals that now roam the woods allows a bear to get inside said fence, and inside the school itself. Under the circumstances, it would still be case for alarm if a normal bear had gotten in. Given that it is twisted by whatever is infecting the island, which turns out at the end to be some parasitic worm thing, it is meant to be a even more terrifying experience was frustrating since Hetty and most of the other girls are able to outrun the bear from room to room and barricade themselves inside said rooms. The latter is at least more believable than the former. During the whole encounter only one girl ,that I recall, actually dies from the whole episode with the bear.

 

I am not saying the author should have killed off more characters, she is not at all shy to kill characters or least some of them, but the fact remains that some how they are able to outrun the bear when people have hard time running away from "normal" bears in the wild. It just all feel too overly convenient. What should have been a high stacks nerve wrecking scene just to me held no tension whatsoever. Mentioning killing characters, though, the author does rack up quite the body count and yet it doesn't hold the impact, least to me, that the author intended. I will like to state character deaths other than a few instances(aka my favorite character in a given work or a death that comes completely by surprise) rarely do much for me. Here, though, the deaths that do occur suffer from particular aspect of novels that really bug me : killing of faceless,nameless, "unimportant, side character(s). Now I am not saying the death of side characters always come off as "safe bets" or meaningless deaths but here it does. Of the characters that do die, the reader only really gets to know the slightest bit of them based on what Hetty has said about them or the few scenes they are present in, which is not enough in to develop them or they were not develop as well as they should have been. Instead in this book , it feels like the reader should be shocked by the number of death instead of who actual has dies. I felt the same way about the two adults that died and then the boy that dies from Byatt kissing him.Given how little time we get to know them their deaths hold little or no impact. If you don't really give the proper time to really know characters than their deaths just don't mean much .

 

The only death that would and could of held any meaning the author took back , which is a trend in books and other media that I hate. Will be the first to admit I am not a doctor, but I was pretty sure with how invasive Byatt is removing the worm thing in her arm, how much blood she loses in the process, a fact that Hetty remarks on when Byatt is finally found, and the fact that Byatt is left alone who knows how long with no medical assistance she would not still be alive .Least it doesn't seem like she should still be alive. I think it would have much more impactful to have her die, have Hetty deal with that grief and pain of not being able to get there in time, which it seems for a moment she is than to be oh no Byatt is actual alive, very very weak by somehow still alive.

 

Another aspect of the novel that sort of threw me was the romantic subplot. I love that there is a queer relationship in this and other than the body horror was an element that made me pick it up in the first place,but I am still confused by the two that get together. From the start, was pretty sure Byatt and Hetty were meant to be the romantic pair given how close they seemed in every scene they shared together and given the book was from their two points of view. I have nothing against power close friendships and given what has happen the students may cling tighter to each other more than ever before,but it just felt like more than friendship between the two of them , least from Hetty's chapters. No, though, seems Reese and Hetty are the ones that get together, which just really confused me. Hetty spends way less time with her, at one point Reese tries to choke here and for awhile seems like they are not even friends anymore and are not not even talking. I can buy that Byatt and Hetty are just really close best friends . Books need more powerful platonic best friendships they really do. The fact still remains that relationship makes no sense between the two that are paired up in this book. Maybe I was missing subtle clues but to me seems they went from sort of again not even being friends because of Hetty getting boat shift, something Reese really wants to try to find her dad, to kissing and suddenly are sort of together. If this was the plan where were there no chapter from Reese to get to know her more and develop her more?

 

Overall I enjoyed it enough to finish even if I put off finishing it but I wanted more from it. I really enjoyed the body horror aspects of it and when they were the focus the book was really exciting . I just really wanted more of those aspects I am not faulting it for not being as dark and gritty as I first thought. I get it is young adult and the darker elements have to be toned down in some way for that target audience. Even so what it did do in that respect was great and just again wanted more of it. I was not a fan of the lack of any explanation for the Tox. I was not expecting a full exposition dump since that would have been over the top and annoying , but was expecting something more than was in the book. I get diseases are confusing in real life but was expecting some sort of explanation to parts of it at least in this. Finally as much as I love open endings , when they make sense, the ending felt rushed and abrupt.Was overall just disappointed in a lot of the aspects of this novel. The cover is gorgeous,though

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review 2020-01-21 05:05
Wilder Girls - Rory Power

Image result for disappointed gifs

 

*Full review to come.

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text 2020-01-19 02:44
Reading progress update: I've read 320 out of 368 pages.
Wilder Girls - Rory Power

The ending of this book is going to make or break it for me.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-01-07 06:57
I Wish you All The Best- Review
I Wish You All the Best - Mason Deaver

I enjoyed that that this was an own voices novel about a nonbinary teen, something even in lgbt Young adult books that is not written about or talked about as much as it should be. Especially not AMAB who is non-binary, or least I have sadly not read many books where that was the case. I enjoyed that even though the books has lots of various queer experiences non of them feel forced for the sack of diversity alone and non of the characters feel like they are just to be tokens nor do they feel like their whole personality is their sexuality or gender identity. Even Nathan , the love interest, who is revealed to be bisexual toward the end of the book, a revelation that feels honest to the character and the story and not just a "choice" by the author to make sure their characters can end up at the end.

Mentioning the romance by the end I was rooting for them to get together because it was a journey to get there. It was obvious that they had feelings but it always felt like their friendship mattered way more and that they were not certain the other felt the same. Too often friendship is thrown aside because the romance matters more or that an author rushes through the friendship stage to get to the romance. It was nice to see that often moving from one stage to another takes time and that not only is it worth it but the time before becoming more than friends is important that that it matters.

I like that the book deals with the messier parts of coming out and that sometimes the best option at the moment to to distance yourself from those people that can not except you even if they are family and even if you know you still love them. Too many times it seems to end up with a happy ending an author will have characters that are not accepting suddenly be overly accepting by the end. In particular novels and if it makes sense in terms of character development the the plot this can be a good thing but too many times it comes off as rushed and unrealistic. Life is messy and as much as it would be wonderful if everyone would finally accept their lgbt+ family in some cases that either takes time or in some cases just doesn't happen. So I really appreciate that author didn't attempt in the final few pages to tie everything up with a nice red bow by having the parents magical come all loving and accepting. Again real life is filled with "endings" that are not always nice and clean and happy.

I also like that therapy is presented in a positive light without being an instant cure all. That it is actually present as work from both sides . That and that medication is not some wonder drug that cures all your problems. I like that it took time for Ben to be comfortable wish their therapists and that at times they were not comfortable sharing certain things til later on in the novel.

I also really liked that the author did not shy away from saying that bisexual and pansexual people freaking exist since so much in Young adult novels if someone likes more than one gender their sexuality either gets skirted around to avoid using one of those labels or it's "I don't use labels", which is fine if that in itself is discussed but usually it is a get around to avoid using bisexual most often or just pretending both pansexual and bisexual people don't exist. Mentioning the no labels thing feel it is important to mention that I like that even though several labels are used for various people Ben , though comfortable with their non-binary label, is not as firm on a sexual label and is still figuring it out though they do preferring more masculine presenting people. I believe they say bisexual with a type or something of that , which I feel is even more rare in books in general so that was nice to see as well.

I think my only gripe about this book is that I am still a bit unsure exactly how Ben and Mariam are friends. Get that Ben watched their videos and that they are both nonbinary and course talked and found out they have several interests in common but just that getting to know each other is not really talked about. From the sounds of it Mariam is a popular uploader , so popular in fact that they get to met celebrities are during the course of the books going on tour to give various speeches about their experience . I am not saying it is impossible for them to be friends but just if Mariam's channel is as popular as it seems I am not sure I buy that one day they say Ben's message out of the possible hundreds or even thousands of messages they receive and they just so happen to decide to reply to Ben's . Just I can see various other teens who are also nonbinary message to say how Mariam's videos spoke to them and such. It is a small gripe , though and maybe Ben messaged when Mariam's channel was smaller .

Overall though think the book is is a wonderful coming of age story of finding yourself, first love, and trying to make the best in a world or family that is not always loving or understanding

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review 2020-01-04 21:25
Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by L.C. Rosen
Jack of Hearts (and other parts) - Lev A.C. Rosen

Content warning for stalking, victim blaming, homophobia, suicidal thoughts, on-page drug use and drinking, and graphic discussions of sex.

Jack is a gay teen who likes casual sex and isn't interested in being in a committed relationship. Maybe one day - he isn't completely ruling it out - but definitely not right now. While he enjoys having sex, he doesn't enjoy people gossiping about his sex life, and for some reason his sex life is a hot topic among the gossips at school. When his friend Jenna suggests that he write a sex advice column for her personal blog, he reluctantly agrees. Maybe if he works in some true stories about his sex life, the rumors about stuff he's never done will go away. And the posts will be semi-anonymous, written by "Jack of Hearts," so there's no way some future college or employer will google him and see them.

For the most part, the advice column goes surprisingly well, but things take a turn for the worse in his private life. Someone keeps putting notes in his locker. At first they look like love notes, but as time goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that Jack has a stalker.

I got an ARC of this at a conference a while back and only just now got around to reading it. The book came out in October 2018, so that gives you an idea of how long I've had it. It looked good, but I was a little afraid it'd have more sex in it than I wanted to deal with. Now that I've read it, I can say that, yes, the advice columns were extremely explicit and did mention, in graphic detail, some of Jack's past sexual experiences as context for whatever advice he was giving. However, even though Jack has sex multiple times in the story, there were no on-page sex scenes. I appreciated that. The advice columns were one thing, but first person present tense on-page sex scenes, especially in a YA novel, would have felt voyeuristic and gross.

Okay, I'll start with the good. I thought that most of the advice columns were well-done. I could imagine the topics and explicitness crossing lines for some folks - I, personally, thought that the last one about roleplay and BDSM would have been more appropriate in a book aimed at adults than teens - but for the most part I liked the way the topics were handled, with an emphasis on communication and consent. There was even one column addressing the fears of a letter writer who was probably asexual, as well as a column that discussed the fetishizing of gay men by straight women.

I liked Jack reasonably well, even if he occasionally made me want to scream in frustration, and I thought his friend Ben was an utter sweetheart. Although most of the prominent characters in this book were very much into sex, usually casual sex, I liked that there was an effort to say "it's okay for teens to not want to have sex, or to want to wait until they meet the right person or feel like it's the right time." And the story's pacing was good and definitely kept me hooked.

However, here's where I get into the things I wasn't as wild about. The stalking plot had several moments that made me incandescently angry. Yes, I understand that there were teens who would not want to tell anyone if they were being stalked, who, like Jack, would want to just wait and see if the problem would go away on its own. And yes, I understand that there are horrible adults out there who'd react like Jack's principal and not do anything particularly helpful. However, it just kept going on and on and becoming more and more awful. The message the book was communicating boiled down to "there's nothing that could possibly be done to make your situation any better, no one will help you, and even the people who try to help you won't be able to accomplish anything." It did resolve in a positive way, but it felt like a stroke of luck on Jack's part, and even then it almost didn't work out. Things got so bad that I was worried the book was going to end in Jack's suicide.

Jack was so frustrating. Every time one of his friends suggested going to someone for help, he trotted out reasons why that wouldn't do any good or just plain said no. No cops, no telling his mom. Considering the principal's reaction when he was first alerted to the problem, I could understand, but as the notes got darker and more threatening, I had a harder time seeing why he wouldn't try again, with a different adult. His mom would have been perfect, but no, he didn't want to worry her. Jack and his mom often felt more like roommates whose paths occasionally crossed than like parent and child. Giving your son space to grow and figure himself out is one thing, but Jack's mom didn't seem to have any rules beyond "don't get blackout drunk and make sure you practice safe sex." And what good was having a "cool" mom, anyway, if Jack still didn't feel comfortable enough to tell her that a stalker was blackmailing him and making his life hell?

The high school experience depicted in this book was more like what I see in movies than what I remember of my own high school life. It seemed like everyone was having huge parties, drinking, smoking pot, and having sex. Yeah, there were mentions of kids who wanted to take it slower, like Ben, and that asexual letter writer, but the bulk of this was just...are there really people out there whose high school experience is like this?

And while I do think it's good that sex positive YA books exist, there were certain things in this one that crossed the line. For example, there were multiple instances where Jack admitted that he'd used Grindr to find partners, that he'd lied about his age, and that at least one or two of his partners were probably adult men who didn't realize that he was still a minor. The problems with this were never addressed. Honestly, the "hooking up with older men via Grindr" stuff could have been cut from the book without hurting anything - Jack had zero problems finding people his own age to hook up with via parties.

Anyway, it was a quick read, but I definitely had issues with it and am not really sure I enjoyed it. I could see the advice columns being helpful to some readers, though.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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