Reading for Pride: Week 4

I’m reading LGBTQ books and only LGBTQ books this June for Pride month. Here are my thoughts on my fourth week of reading; all titles are linked to their Goodreads synopsis.

Between June 21st and 27th, I read:

The God Eaters by Jesse Hajicek (2006)
Genre: fantasy
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The two main characters are gay
Thoughts: I liked the world-building in this one. It’s sort of like the American West with magic. Gunslingers and outlaws and pyromancy and incarnated gods, all that fun stuff. The magic system was interesting too. I liked most things about this book and it was an engaging read. I read this in hard copy but the author has also made it available free online in its entirety.

The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi (2014)
Genre: contemporary
Audience: YA
Queer rep: The main character is a lesbian; several important supporting characters are gay or lesbian
Thoughts: This was just OK for me. Teenager goes to conversion camp. The one thing I liked was that each of the kids had a different reason for being there. It wasn’t entirely the typical narrative of homophobic religious parents forcing their kids to change. It was pretty standard otherwise for the genre and then the last third or so of the book took a darker turn.

Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford (2008)
Genre: contemporary
Audience: YA
Queer rep: The main character is gay. Bonus: the author is queer.
Thoughts: This was the first Michael Thomas Ford book I read for a YA audience (I’ve read two of his adult novels). This was surprisingly funny given the subject (Jeff tries to commit suicide and has to spend 45 days in an in-patient treatment program). Unlike most books of this genre it’s not really morbid or maudlin at all.

A Strong and Sudden Thaw by R.W. Day (2006)
Genre: dystopia?
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The two main characters are gay
Thoughts: This is cataloged as fantasy because there are dragons in it, but there is no other fantasy element to speak of and the dragons are genetically engineered, newly introduced creatures. It’s really more post-apocalyptic than anything, IMO; it’s set in the future but when civilization has regressed to something more like the 1800s in terms of technology and community structure. I liked it.

O Human Star, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 by Blue Delliquanti (2015, 2017)
Genre: science fiction/graphic novels
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The two main characters are gay, an important secondary character is trans and another is genderfluid.
Thoughts: O Human Star is an ongoing webcomic, updated on Mondays at ohumanstar.com. The first five chapters have been collected into print editions. This is a really nice blend of science fiction, family drama, and queer life. I read these two volumes pretty much nonstop and am already dreading finishing the rest of the online archives because I don’t want to have to wait for the rest of the story!

Commitment Hour by James Alan Gardner (1998)
Genre: sci-fi
Audience: adult
Queer rep: Genderfluid with a sci-fi twist
Thoughts:  Set in a community where children change sex every year until their 20th birthday, when they must Commit to remaining male, female, or Neut. This started a bit slowly for me because the main character was supremely unlikeable, but he grew on me over the course of the book. Interesting examination of sex differences and gender roles and the big reveal was handled well although I was left with an unanswered question or two. This is nominally book 2 in the League of Peoples series but it has nothing whatsoever to do with book 1 and is completely a standalone.

Whiteout by Elyse Springer (2017)
Genre: contemporary/romance
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The two main characters are gay, as are a few supporting characters
Thoughts: This was just not for me.

Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas (2014)
Genre: contemporary
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The main character is gay, an important supporting character is lesbian, and both are in same-sex relationships
Thoughts: This is a fairly hefty book (431 pages) but it drew me in immediately and kept my attention the whole time. I liked how it moved from childhood to adulthood and back in alternate chapters, changing the time frame and the POV, hinting at something in one era and then clarifying it in another.

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson (2015)
Genre: sci-fi/fantasy
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The main character is gay and is in a relationship with an important supporting character
Thoughts: Not sure how I feel about the ending, but otherwise I liked this one. I liked Wilson’s newer book, A Taste of Honey, more, but this was worth going back and reading. Interesting world-building.

Curveball by Jeremy Sorese (2015)
Genre: sci-fi/graphic novel
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The main character is nonbinary/genderqueer and their best friend is a lesbian in a relationship
Thoughts: The art was cool and the premise was interesting, but there wasn’t really much of a plot. It was very disjointed and ended rather ambiguously. Disappointing.

The Prince’s Boy by Paul Bailey (2014)
Genre: historical
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The main character is gay and is in a relationship
Thoughts: I was disappointed by this one too. The writing was kind of pretentious and the book failed to hold my attention despite being only 150 pages long.

Vivaldi in the Dark by Matthew J. Metzger (2013)
Genre: contemporary/romance
Audience: YA
Queer rep: One main character is gay and the other is bi. Bonus: the author is queer.
Thoughts: This was lovely. Matthew Metzger is becoming one of my favorite authors. This deals with some heavy topics and – as someone who has dealt/is dealing with the same issues – I thought it really portrayed and handled the one MC’s depression and self-harm realistically and thoughtfully. Looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

The Devil’s Trill Sonata by Matthew J. Metzger (2014)
Genre: contemporary/romance
Audience: YA
Queer rep: One main character is gay and the other is bi; an important secondary character is asexual and another secondary character is gay. Bonus: the author is queer.
Thoughts: Set three years after Vivaldi in the Dark, Jayden and Darren are now 19 and separating for the first time – Jayden for uni and Darren for a work apprenticeship. The issues of depression and self-harm are still there and a long-distance relationship proves challenging in more ways than one. I didn’t like this quite as much as the first book but it is still really good.

Rhapsody on a Theme by Matthew J. Metzger (2014)
Genre: contemporary/romance
Audience: adult
Queer rep: One main character is gay and the other is bi; an important secondary character is asexual. Bonus: the author is queer.
Thoughts: The end of the trilogy and the characters are now about 23. The topics and themes and romantic elements are more adult than in the prior two books. I don’t think it’s really YA anymore. New adult maybe. We’re still dealing with heavy topics but for the first time we end with a lot of hope. The portrayal of the difficulties in finding treatment and finding the right treatment was really realistic. I do wish there had been a bit more from Darren’s POV. I think I liked the first book best because we really got inside Darren’s head. The other two books felt like they were more Jayden’s perspective. Still, really good trilogy.

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