Bite-sized reviews of the LGBTQ books I’ve read in the past week. All titles are linked to their Goodreads page.
Between September 5th and 11th, I read:
Feeder by Patrick Weekes (2018)
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The ensemble cast includes a gay, a lesbian, and a trans character
Thoughts: This was a quick, engaging read. Set in a near-future where most of the planet is flooded and aliens called “feeders” are preying on mankind, teenage Lori hunts them with the help of an interdimensional creature called Handler. They rescue a group of teenagers with flood-induced mutations (the Nix) and together they try to take on the source of the feeders. From the back copy, I was expecting this to be Lori’s story, so when the POV started switching to some of the Nix, I was surprised. But I ended up liking all the different perspectives. I liked how everyone’s gender and sexuality was important to the characters, but was not the focus of the plot. I also liked the look at disability in a post-apocalypse world (one Nix is a wheelchair user and one is neuroatypical).
Kim & Kim, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 by Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera (2016, 2018)
Genre: sci-fi/graphic novel
Queer rep: One Kim is trans and the other is lesbian or bi; numerous minor/secondary queer characters
Thoughts: This was fun. Both volumes contain one complete story line as Kim & Kim, interdimensional bounty hunters, try to make the catch and get paid. The art is great and the Kims are irresistible (and irrepressible). There’s a lot of violence (particularly in the first volume) but without being gratuitous. I will keep reading this series without hesitation if more volumes are published! I also liked that volume two had a series of short essays about queerness in comics at the end of it.
Peter Darling by Austin Chant (2017)
Queer rep: Peter is gay and trans, Hook is gay, several secondary characters are gay
Thoughts: I liked this Peter Pan-retelling a lot. Peter left Neverland ten years ago, resigning himself to growing up as Wendy Darling, but now he has fled back to Neverland for refuge from the harsh real world. But Neverland is violent and dangerous and changes at Peter’s whim; the war games between the Lost Boys and the pirates are now deadly. Neverland also leeches away memories. Captain Hook has all-but-forgotten his real life and Peter is heading the same way at breakneck pace since he wants nothing but to forget. The two need to save themselves in a world where they see each other as the villain.
Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (2018)
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The MC is word-of-author gay
Thoughts: I have mixed feeling about this book. In terms of a coming-of-age story of a teen torn between two cultures, a story that deals realistically and compassionately with mental illness, this is a fantastic and moving book. But! I went into this expecting a queer story… even the back copy hinted at a queer romance subplot. And… it ultimately kind of felt like queerbaiting. Darius is implied to be gay. It is hinted at that he may have a crush on Sohrab. But nothing goes behind hints and implications. To be clear, I most emphatically do not think a story needs romance to be queer. But Darius never even thinks the word “gay” (or “bi” or “queer” or anything). Not even a thought about how he isn’t ready to label himself or how he doesn’t want to think about it. And I didn’t like that.
Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala (2018)
Queer rep: One of the two POV characters is gay, as is a secondary character
Thoughts: This was depressing. This was bleak and depressing and focuses on queer tragedy. It also doesn’t use quotation marks, which is a huge pet peeve of mine because I think it makes it difficult to read.
The Eye of Ra by Dakota Chase (2017; first published 2010)
Audience: young adult
Queer rep: The two MCs are gay
Thoughts: This is basically the Magic Tree House except with gay teenagers. Aston and Grant accidentally start a fire in their history teacher’s office, which destroys a number of archaeological artifacts. It turns out said teacher is Merlin, who sends the boys back in time to find and replace the destroyed artifacts. It’s a quick fun story, although it skews a bit young. The boys are supposed to be 16/17 but they frequently seemed to act more like 14/15. I did like this though and I’ll probably pick up the next one.
The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley (2014)
Queer rep: I’m basically assuming everyone is queer, as this is set in a multiverse that is in no way cisheteronormative.
Thoughts: This is a very dark fantasy, with lots of violence, bloodshed, gore, death, etc. But it is captivating. The POV character changes frequently and this takes place across at least two mirror worlds so it can get a bit confusing, but it also made me keep reading because I wanted to know what was happening with the characters we’d moved away from. I put book two on hold at my library. The third book isn’t coming out till late 2019 though.