I can't really put into words how I feel about this book, except to say it's the best thing I've read in a long time.
Set in the 1980s, it’s about 14-...moreI can't really put into words how I feel about this book, except to say it's the best thing I've read in a long time.
Set in the 1980s, it’s about 14-year-old June, whose beloved uncle Finn has just died from AIDS. After his death she learns he had a partner, Toby, for over 10 years who she wasn’t allowed to know about. At first she’s angry, feeling like everything she knew about Finn was false, and resentful that maybe she wasn’t the most important person in Finn’s life after all. But June starts to realize that she and Toby are connected as the two people Finn loved most in the world, and that without Finn they need each other.
It’s really sad and my heart just breaks for June and Toby, but it’s also beautifully written and just breathtaking. (less)
So I gave this book three stars, but I have to say I found it to be pretty disappointing.
(view spoiler)[The first section of the book is all about th...moreSo I gave this book three stars, but I have to say I found it to be pretty disappointing.
(view spoiler)[The first section of the book is all about the parents deciding to identify their hermaphroditic child as a boy, and then worrying Wayne is acting too girly. I kept anticipating the fallout when Wayne discovered the truth about himself, expecting anger, confusion, betrayal or even on the opposite end of the spectrum, maybe a feeling of "oh, now it all makes sense." Instead, there is nothing. Wayne asks a few questions, shows basically no feelings about anything and then.... we jump ahead to Wayne graduating high school! What? I can't believe there was nothing interesting to write about in Wayne's life from puberty to graduation.
So now Wayne is 17 and moving away from home, and finally he has that identity crisis. Which basically consists of a decision he makes on a whim to stop taking the meds that make him more masculine, an abortive attempt at wearing women's clothes, and a few really awful things happening to him (to which, again he basically has no reaction). And then, all of a sudden, he goes to college where he's finally happy not having to make any choices about himself (because hey it's college and anything goes!), leaving questions about gender identity and sexuality not just unanswered, but basically unasked. (hide spoiler)]
It's great that Wayne is ok with being androgynous, but the problem is he's never shown making that choice, or really questioning who he is, and it's hard to believe someone would be that blase in this situation.
And so really, what is the point of this book? ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
As Karen said, this book is all atmosphere with little in the way of characterization or plot. So for me, it all amounted to a whole lot of nothing.
Fo...moreAs Karen said, this book is all atmosphere with little in the way of characterization or plot. So for me, it all amounted to a whole lot of nothing.
For all the heavy-handed magical, mystical, mysterious build-up, there's not actually much tension until the end, but it's too little too late. Much is made of the competition between Celia and Marco, but it never felt very high-stakes, even after the "reveal" that it's a fight to the death, probably because the game seems to be about who can make the coolest circus attraction and who will finally declare themselves too frustrated to continue. And in the end, neither Celia or Marco even made a move to end the competition, it all came down to a side character. So, what exactly was the point?
The book wants to be epic, but never actually gets there. Mostly because the romance between Celia and Marco is pretty lackluster. They're rivals who fall in love! One of them must die! Oh the tragedy! That's about it.
The same goes for the secondary characters, who seem to be there only to fill pages, since there's not much plot, and to provide the author with a tidy resolution.
Still, although this is a review of complaints (and what else would be expected of me?) I did enjoy reading the book, although mostly because I was anticipating a grand finish that never happened.
ETA: And how the heck was Bailey supposed to stop everything from coming to a head? Isobel and Poppet imply that his presence would have averted the crisis, but since he had no magic or knowledge of what was happening, what could he have done? So many plot holes....(less)
This book is very readable and engaging - I finished it in two days, something that rarely happens these days. I was interested in the main character'...moreThis book is very readable and engaging - I finished it in two days, something that rarely happens these days. I was interested in the main character's recovery from a trauma that occurs before the beginning of the book and how he and his boyfriend work out their long-distance relationship. Unfortunately, the book never really delivers on either.
Certainly, given that this is a YA book, it's understandable that the author doesn't delve into the graphic details of what happened to Nate, but she also largely skips over the aftermath and Nate's recovery. Pretty much any reference to what happened is relegated to periodic flashback scenes. In the present, which is less than a year later, it's barely mentioned.
Instead, Nate's emotional distress and subsequent questionable behavior are centered on his boyfriend Adam going to NYC for a few months and his jealousy over Adam's new friends. Nate just ends up seeming extremely clingy and immature.
When he isn't worrying about what Adam's up to, Nate's getting in trouble at school for flaunting his gay - so to speak - and running a blog about being a queer teen. Except his "activism" at school never progresses beyond wearing statement t-shirts and dancing with his straight best friend, and his blog entries are trite, cliched, and few. These plot points are non-starters and seem to only exist to introduce Nate to a younger boy who develops a huge crush on him and adds to his relationship woes.
This has become extremely long-winded and to avoid being too spoilery, I'll just say that Nate's a mess and things get worse for him and Adam, but then the author cops out on a resolution for what's happened by tacking on a silly "10 years later" chapter that fixes everything without having to work for it.(less)