Published: October 2001 by Simon and Schuster
Review: A look at life for queer teens at the turn in the millenium. I like how some things, such as pressures of coming out, falling in love, and dealing with bullying, are themes that are still relevant today, but it really does seem firmly set in its time place. I also like the fact it shows people in different stages of accepting their sexuality, and various questions related to all of them.
It felt like a gentle story of exploration. Our three main characters discover sexuality, new love, and new experiences.I feel it was probably a great book when it was first published, when the market of books featuring queer characters was very very small. Reading it today, when we have a lot more representation, with a lot more nuanced characters, I felt it was very very tropey- Nelson especially seemed like the archetypal flamboyant gay, with not much else going for him. On a much less serious note, “chartreuse” hair.... Then again, this was written in the early 2000s, so Rainbow Boys might be an originator of these tropes. Or maybe all that could get sold at that time. I don’t know. Despite this, I did enjoy following the characters and their emotions. I also like how it did bring up the issue of safe sex well
My favourite thing is that whoever chose the models for the cover I got does not appear to have read the book.
Overall: Strength 3 tea to an early LGB YA novel.
Author: Jasper Fforde
Published: December 2009 by Penguin
Review: I picked this up because of the cover, and bought it because a review said it was "full of witticisms, wordplay, and puns", and was described as a cross between Douglas Adams and George Orwell. For me, it didn’t live up to the fun I expected from the comparison with Adams, but the Orwellian aspects were strong.
I most enjoyed reading about this new society Fforde created. Extracts from the Rulebook head every chapter, and we got a good look at the workings of the society as we learnt bits about it gradually. The characters were interesting, but I didn’t really connect.
I felt that plotwise, it took a long time to get going, and when it did, it was often really confusing. It did clear up towards the end, providing a clear set up for later books in the trilogy, but for this book, it was quite late. There’s many different strands, with a murder mystery, marrying to improve social status but maybe being in love with someone who you can’t marry, finding out about the Something That Happened. Normally, I like mixes like these, but for some reason, it felt really confusing here.
Overall: Stregnth 2 tea to a book with a great concept, but was less fun to read.