Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Book Review: All of the Above by Juno Dawson

Here's hoping for a circle of gay.

When sixteen-year-old Toria moves to the faded seaside town of Brompton-on-Sea, she doesn't expect to fall in love once - let alone twice. But life has a habit of pulling you in strange directions, and when it comes to matters of the heart, sometimes you just have to let go, be free, and let love choose you.

This novel is basically tumblr in the form of a book. The bad and the good. You have variety of sexuality and a over-judgemental sixteen year old who thinks she knows better but is really just a little shit. Toria and I didn't really get off on the best foot:

"It sort of feels good to have some order back in my life. Does that make me sound autistic?" Chapter 1, pg 12.  Great Start, Toria.  She also jokes to have other disorders. She also preaches at the reader and then does something problematic herself straight after. I guess this was a possibly intentional as people are flawed (there are 16 years old like this), if only her flaws weren't so annoying. Here are other quotes with my initial reactions: 

"Who says 'uni' any more, seriously?" Everyone you fucking c*nt. What else would they say?
"AMINE IS NOT CARTOONS." It is and there is nothing wrong with that. Though, Ice Age is on the terrible side of animation.

Toria just straight up says and does unlikable things. On her whole she doesn't bug me that much, but I do spend a lot of time on Tumblr and built up a tolerance to this type of hypercritical bullshit. I also do think it was Dawson's intention for her to be flawed, to make her realistic.

The other characters are band of misfits with their own issues. To be honest, their issues feel rather shallow and more to give Toria an interesting experience. Its a real pet peeve of mine for protagonists to learn from the suffering of their "friends". This is lessen by the fact, Toria herself adds to the diversity from the start of the book, being mix-race herself (which is good to see reflected in the cover). The thing is everyone does have something, but so many people are so open with what their deals are and weirdos do stick together. It just a level of openness not supported with the school environment presented. There is an actual love triangle in this book rather than the line typical in YA. It was overall okay and we get Bi characters that don't like labels. (This is a tumblr troop that I disagree with for personal and non-personal reasons).

The big problem with this book is that it features the "bury your "blank" trope, which was surprising from someone of that belongs to one these typical blank. The LGBTQA+ characters have fallen by this trope. Changing the G to another letter doesn't change that's its a "Bury your gays" moment. I am a queer, disabled person so I hate this trope with a passion, no matter the blank, but to see it under both main blanks was a big slap in the face. This a life lesson moment for the protagonist, it not about this character losing out on life. The reason this is a terrible trope, is that these labels under represented in media and its devastating when your only representation dies...repeatedly. Especially, as there are usually the only ones with that representation in the specific media. There's not enough of us to be so carelessly disregarded. Then there's we are always the villain trope that was really big in the last century... I can't say much more about this book version of the trope without just saying who it is, I'm just trying to distract you with tropes that the Disabled and LGBTQA+ both have together now. Though, feel free to tell me your favourite disabled (or disfigured), coded gay villain in the comments or just randomly tweet me their name.

Told by a reflective Toria (though not much) first-person and is split into the four seasons Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer. The almost reflective thing didn't work well.

 Contemporary books can be a bit plot lost, though this wins with featuring a crazy golf course.

Overall, I give this book 4 out of five stars for hair dye. This book was not quite the circle of gay I was hoping for, but it was an okay light read (tons of possible triggering stuff though. I know I have odd sense of what a "light read" is). It tries to do a lot with representation, I don't know if maybe it too much to have in one book. It felt a little forced to me, but with the lack of diversity in YA maybe we do have to shove in as much as possible.Though, its still fails to be good representation.

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