Rainbow Reading: April 4

My thoughts on the LGBTQ books I’ve read in the past week. All titles are linked to their Goodreads page.

Between March 28th and April 3rd, I read:

Raven the Pirate Princess, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 by Jeremy Whitley, Rosy Higgins, Ted Brandt (2016)
Genre: fantasy/graphic novels
Audience: all ages
Queer rep: Lots! Multiple lesbians and bi woman, an ace girl, and probably more
Thoughts: Raven the Pirate Princess is a spin-off of Princeless, and while I enjoy that series a lot, Raven is even better – you had me at “queer pirates”. This comic is great. The story, the art, the characters, I love everything. There is nothing not to love. There are four trade volumes out now and fifth coming this summer. However, the series is in danger of ending there, which would be tragic. Read Raven! Buy Raven! Rave about Raven! Support it and help save it!

Miles Away from You by A.B. Rutledge (2018)
Genre: contemporary
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The MC is panromantic and demisexual; his former girlfriend is trans; his parents are lesbians; several secondary characters are gay
Thoughts: I liked this a lot, but it’s been criticized for “fridging” the trans character; Vivian is in a coma at the start of the book after a suicide attempt and we only know her through Miles’ memories and letters to her. The whole book is told through e-mails and messages from Miles to Vivan as he tries to recover his life in her absence. I think this is really a love it or hate it book – no matter what you think, you’re going to have strong feelings one way or the other.

Dryland by Sara Jaffe (2015)
Genre: fiction
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The MC is questioning; several secondary characters are gay or lesbian
Thoughts: This was kind of “ehh” for me. It was all right, but nothing really happened and I really hated that it didn’t use quotation marks. I’d start to read a sentence thinking it was narration and then there’d be a “he said” or “she said” and I’d have to go read it again. That just annoyed me for the entire book.

Far from the Tree by Robin Benway (2017)
Genre: contemporary
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: One of the POV characters is a lesbian, as is a secondary character
Thoughts: This made me cry several times, but in a good way. The writing was great and each of the three voices was very clear and distinct. This won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2017 and it was definitely well-deserved.

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston (2018)
Genre: sci-fi
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: Multiple gay and lesbian characters and an ace-spec one
Thoughts: In a nutshell: Anastasia in space and everyone’s queer. This is not a short book but I flew through it. It was very engaging and all of the characters were so well-developed. It’s a fairly big cast, even just counting the POV characters, but each and every one was really fleshed-out. I already want the sequel!

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum (2017)
Genre: contemporary
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The two MCs are queer (bi?)
Thoughts: This was an odd but compelling book. Jack is descending into madness and August decides the only way to save him is to follow him there. I really loved how the pages of the book slowly darkened as the madness grew until they were entirely black with white text. I thought that was a very cool way to mirror the shadows being cast over Jack and August’s lives.

The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis (2018)
Genre: contemporary
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The MC and an important secondary character are gay
Thoughts: So this is depressing: child abuse, domestic abuse, bullying. I was angry at all of the characters and everything just kept getting worse. It doesn’t end tragically, at least.

Snapshots of a Girl by Beldan Sezen (2014)
Genre: autobiographical graphic novel
Audience: adult
Queer rep: Beldan is a lesbian
Thoughts: This is a series of comic vignettes about Beldan coming of age and coming out. I was not a big fan; I didn’t really like the art style, it felt messy and unfinished to me, and there were about half a dozen different styles of text and some of them were very difficult for me to decipher.

Starting from Scratch by Jay Northcote (2017)
Genre: contemporary/romance
Audience: adult
Queer rep: The MC is gay and trans; pretty much every secondary character is gay or bi
Thoughts: This is book 5 in the Housemates series but can be read as a standalone (as I did). This was free on Kindle for Transgender Day of Visibility and how could I resist a free ownvoices trans book? I liked the parts about Ben (re)gaining his self-confidence and how he recognizes and deals with internalized transphobia. There were a lot of sex scenes and too many crude conversations among the various housemates for my particular tastes, but the overall story arc is good.

Starting from Here by Lisa Jean Bigelow (2012)
Genre: contemporary
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The MC is a lesbian; multiple secondary characters are gay, lesbian, bi
Thoughts: This is the second book I’ve read in the last two weeks featuring a queer main character being raised by a single parent working as a long haul trucker, which is kind of an odd coincidence. This was a quick, easy read and it explored a lot of different relationship dynamics (with family, friends, significant others, neighbors, teachers, etc.). I will say Colby was not always a very sympathetic character, but her negative traits were portrayed realistically.

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon (2017)
Genre: sci-fi
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The MC is (IMO) bi and possibly genderqueer; secondary characters are genderqueer, ace, and lesbian
Thoughts: Everyone has been raving about this book for months and for some reason I still hesitated to pick it up. I’m really not sure what took me so long. This was really well-written and I got so heavily invested in Aster’s life and well-being. It wasn’t easy to read – there is horrific and systemic abuse and degradation of Aster and her fellow low-deckers – but it was worth it.

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