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review 2016-12-21 15:26
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
None of the Above - Andrea Di Gregorio

One of the more informative books I've read all year. This book follows a character who is intersex and tells of her story and experiences once she is diagnosed as such. I really enjoyed getting to learn more about Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) since it's a topic that is rarely ever talked about, I can tell the author did a massive amount of research to get the correct information about what it is like to have AIS. 


The writing is nothing out of the ordinary. It's quite "matter-of-fact" which I think is a good thing. She is trying to spread awareness about AIS, educating those who may not know what it is to become more well-informed, to bring an end to the stigma those what have AIS have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. So it's good that Gregorio's writing is to the point.


Now that characters are, in my opinion, on the weaker side. None of them are extremely memorable except for the main character, Kristin. Not that any of the side characters are bad... they just didn't leave a lasting impression on me. But that didn't deter me from reading. We, as the reader, are here to learn about Kristin and what she feels after finding out about her AIS. And as a main character, she was fascinating to read about. I, myself, don't know much about intersex people. I wanted to learn more. I still want to learn more because I know there are many different types of being intersex and I want to increase my knowledge so that I, too, can spread awareness and end the stigma. And from reading None of the Above I felt I did learn more. And I am grateful to this book for educating not only me but anyone else who reads this book. So the characters might not be the strongest aspect of this book, but the information and the awareness it brings is.


To sum up, read this book! It's incredible in what it sets out to do and I think it does it well. Be warn though, there is discrimination towards the main character that happens and an attempted sexual assault. So if that might be triggering, then you might want to hold off on this book until you're ready to read it. Oh, and one more thing about this book that I did not like. Kristin and one of her friends, Darren, make a rape joke at one point in the book that I found distasteful. I didn't think that was necessary and I wanted to point out the "joke" in case anyone might find that triggering as well. 


But other than that, the book is important in trying to end hatred towards intersex people. And I do think it's an important read for anyone willing to educate, learn, and grow as a person. Give it a read.

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review 2016-05-30 16:12
The Dice Man - Luke Rhinehart
The Dice Man - Luke Rhinehart

Luke Rhinehart, psychiatrist, bored and unhappy with his life, hits on the idea of using dice to live his life, writing out lists of options and rolling a die to find out which one he'll go with. Sometimes the decision is as trivial as what to eat for breakfast; sometimes the die dictates what role he'll play at a party; sometimes it directs the whole course of his life.


It's utter crap, but occasionally quite enjoyable utter crap, watching as the dice get ever more out of control and Luke's old life spirals ever further down the drain. Rhinehart (a pen name for George Cockroft) cooks up a psychiatric theory for the dicelife based on the idea that it frees multiple repressed selves; I actually found this mildly intriguing and conveniently difficult to argue against, as it effectively sidelines any conventional idea of what truth and morality and personhood is. The apparently arbitrary nature of the decisions the dice make for Luke also lead to some genuinely suspenseful moments.


The one major beef I have with the book - the reason I wouldn't recommend it - is its frankly misogynistic outlook, especially with regards to rape and consent. The first dice decision Luke makes is to go downstairs and rape his neighbour Arlene. Which he does. And Arlene enjoys it, because she's a bored and unsatisfied housewife who needs some excitement in her life. And this is presented as completely OK. And what the fuck, book, have you not heard the words "rape culture"? (Probably not, actually, as this was published in 1969, but it's still shitty.)


There are several other instances where Luke coerces and manipulates women, often vulnerable women, patients and experimental subjects, into sex, and again, this is all completely OK on the basis that they're expressing repressed minority selves.


No. Noooo. Please go away, dice man.

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text 2016-05-04 19:32
Reading progress update: I've read 70 out of 352 pages.
None of the Above - Andrea Di Gregorio

I'm a little annoyed by the author's sloppy research. Russian has no articles. It's German that has three (and therefore 'neuter'). 


But otherwise I'm enjoying this book.

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text 2015-10-12 15:16
None of the Above
None of the Above - Andrea Di Gregorio

10/9/15 ** Kristin has a full scholarship for college, she's elected Homecoming Queen, has two best friends and a boyfriend she adores. It looks like her senior year should be fantastic. Then she gets a medical diagnosis that she's intersex, not male or female. The rest of the book explores the difficult start of a long journey to acceptance of herself and by her peers. When her secret leaks to the rest of the school, her life becomes hell as she and the reader wonder who told.


This book is a valuable addition to the pantheon of YA novels. I deals with one particular aspect of identity and acceptance, but it shouldn't be viewed as simply and "issues" novel. The realities of high school life: loyalty, peer pressure, cyber interactions, sexual activity, are relevant for all teens. 

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review 2015-10-01 19:43
male, female, or...
None of the Above - Andrea Di Gregorio

At some point during my childhood I heard a story about a little girl who was born with male parts inside her body. I have no idea where I heard it, I just remember being really affected by it and that it really stuck with me. I was a late bloomer, to put it politely, and even after I hit puberty and changes were being had there was still a little voice in my head remembering that story, and never being able to let go of the fear it caused.

Needless to say, it wasn’t hard for me to step into Kristin’s shoes and feel all the emotions going through her when she was told that she had Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. It wasn’t hard to imagine all the confusion and the identity questions that would manifest, and the fear and insecurities.

That wasn’t even the hardest part of the story. I actually think that Kristin could have gotten a handle on all the emotions if she’d only had more time. The hardest part of the story was watching the fallout when Kristin’s diagnosis was leaked to the entire school. It’s so sad that cruelty is the believable reality in any circumstance, let alone one in which the victim is already so fragile.

On top of dealing with everything emotionally and mentally, Kristin also has to deal with whether or not her friends will turn on her over something that was beyond her control, and medical. This was where the book really got me upset. The good news, though, was that Kristin was able to determine who was truly her friend and who really wasn’t at all.

There were some aspects of the book that I think did the story an injustice. First, I think that the characters felt a little bit one dimensional. What I will take away from None of the Above will be the education of AIS, it won’t be the characters. Frankly, even writing this review I couldn’t remember the name of the main character for a moment. There wasn’t anything particularly spectacular about anyone’s personality. Also, Kristin was going through so much. The loss of her circle; the loss of herself too, in a sense. She was dealing with a boyfriend, best friends, her father… I’m not sure that we needed to have an additional love story injected into the pages too. It’s okay if your rock is just a really amazing friend. The inclusion caused the story to feel just a little bit shallow.

All in all, really informative. It dealt with the reality of discovering the AIS diagnosis late in life, and the toll it would take on one’s emotional well being. It just needed some trimming of the unnecessary drama.

For this and other reviews, visit us at Badass Book Reviews!

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