Showing posts with label sexuality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sexuality. Show all posts

Sunday, July 2, 2017

[Review] Last Seen Leaving - Caleb Roehrig: Sexuality and Missing Girlfriends

In LAST SEEN LEAVING, the police start investigating when Flynn's ex-girlfriend mysteriously disappears.

What intrigued me: Exclusively the hype.

Coming-Of-Age Rather Than Thriller

LAST SEEN LEAVING is a poster child for it's not you, it's me. It's undoubtedly a very skillfully written book, the prose is on point, the characterizations are great - but it's just not my thing. I found myself struggling a lot to get into this and pretty much immediately lost interest when I realized that this is a very character-driven coming-of-age story with a side of mystery instead of a fast-paced thriller. 

LAST SEEN LEAVING isn't really about January or her disappearance, it's pretty much simply an incentive to get the story started and fill some pages on the side so Flynn's self discovery won't be the only thing that this book is about. I definitely welcome this, I like that Roehrig wrapped a second story into this instead of just making this a regular thriller. We do need more #ownvoices stories that aren't solely about characters discovering their sexuality. However, the coming-of-age aspect is ultimately also why I didn't care much for it. I'm not really a fan of calm contemporary books that center around characters and their self-discovery, so LAST SEEN LEAVING didn't grip me at all.

Miscommunication and Slow Burn

Besides the very subjective aspects, LAST SEEN LEAVING is a very slowly paced book, which doesn't really work in the story's favor, considering the genre. I was hoping for a page turner, but I really only got a slow burn story about a small town mystery and a small town boy who got too caught up in heteronormativity to realize that he isn't heterosexual at all. 

A lot of the story relies on misunderstandings and miscommunication to preserve the mystery, which is probably my least favorite trope in the entire universe and also influenced my reading experience negatively. LAST SEEN LEAVING isn't quite as sharp and clean cut and to the point as I like my thrillers to be, which is highly, highly subjective, and therefore just wasn't my thing. Add flashbacks on top, which I also despise, and you pretty much got a perfect mixture of all the subjective things I don't like that are in no way an indicator about the quality of this book.

LAST SEEN LEAVING is definitely an important story regardless, and if you generally don't mind slow and character-driven books, you'll probably love this.


Rating:

★★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you're looking for a coming-of-age thriller narrative starring a gay protagonist that discovers their sexuality while investigating a disappearance, I guess this is perfect for you! LAST SEEN LEAVING is definitely well-written and unique, but just wasn't my thing, unfortunately.



Additional Info

Published: May 22nd 2017
Pages: 416
Publisher: cbj
Genre: YA / Thriller
ISBN: 9783570173343

Synopsis:
"Flynn's girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself. "
(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite thriller?



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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

[Review] Noteworthy - Riley Redgate: A Cappella and Crossdressing

In NOTEWORTHY, Jordan struggles with getting accepted in the musical theatre world because she's an Alto 2, and then applies to the male a cappella octet.

What intrigued me: I just heard bisexual. I'm ready.

Quiet and Melancholic

NOTEWORTHY is that kind of quiet bittersweet story that you have to have a sweet spot for. Looking at the cover I was expecting a loud, joke-y book full of puns and fanfares but this is actually quite the opposite. NOTEWORTHY does have its funny moments but at heart this story is very much a coming-of-age contemporary that doesn't sugarcoat anything about growing up.

A lot of the themes are very melancholic in nature, I especially loved reading about Jordan's past relationship and her feelings for her ex-boyfriend. There is so much heart's blood poured into this story that it figuratively drips with authenticity. NOTEWORTHY is one of those books that you have to put down sometimes because it got too real.

I think it's also worth mentioning that this an #ownvoices book about a Chinese girl written by a Chinese author. In general I was very positively surprised by the amount of non-white characters and especially by the depth and care that went into creating them.

A Love Letter to A Cappella

NOTEWORTHY especially impressed me with its nuanced discussion of gender, sexuality, and disability. I certainly didn't expect to find this in this book, but it's absolutely necessary considering that crossdressing is a huge part of the plot, but not necessarily in a trans or drag context. I'm glad that Redgate included a passage about this because this initially worried me when I heard about the book for the first time. Crossdressing is a tricky thing to write about.

I initially picked this up solely for the bisexual representation and was a little disappointed to see that NOTEWORTHY doesn't really discuss Jordan's sexuality a lot.  This is neither a romance nor a story about Jordan and her growing up, in my opinion it's a love letter to a cappella. NOTEWORTHY is set at college and you definitely don't get a break from that while reading this - this is a specific type of book that you need to be prepared for in order not to be caught off guard. While it is very unique, I think NOTEWORTHY absolutely delivers. This is the book for you if you're a singer, if you like a cappella, if you like stories set at college. NOTEWORTHY definitely stands out positively in the world of books about music.

Note: Despite NOTEWORTHY featuring a scene where the protagonist addresses that she's putting on a performance act as a cis person, and explicitly states that this is different to being trans, trans reviewers have pointed out that NOTEWORTHY neither features non-binary/trans characters, nor addresses the trans aspect enough. I don't feel comfortable speaking about this, but do be aware that this is 100% a book about a cis character crossdressing and does not include any trans characters. Here is a twitter thread that describes the issues a little more.





Rating:

★★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

NOTEWORTHY reads like a love letter to a cappella and is a fairly quiet and calm type of Contemporary. Do be aware that it's a book about a cis character crossdressing and does not feature any trans characters.



Additional Info

Published: May 2nd 2017
Pages: 336
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781419723735

Synopsis:
"It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped ... revered ... all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for."
(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite Contemporary?

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