Alright, I’ll admit it. The Themis Files series has been gazing at me from my to-be-read shelf for over a year now. I’ve heard Sylvain Neuvel’s praises sung endlessly by friends and fellow reviewers, but I still haven’t made it to his debut novel, Sleeping Giants. I was thrilled at the announcement of The Test, his first novella, something for me to fly through quickly on a late night. The biggest takeaway for me: wow, I’ve been missing out.
I think this is one of those books you’re better of diving into yourself with as little foreknowledge as possible, so I’ll keep this brief. In order to become a citizen of Britain, you must first pass the twenty-five question British Citizenship Test. Idir Jalil, an Iranian immigrant hoping to secure his family’s future in this country they’ve come to know, will pass this test or he and his family will be deported immediately. The stakes are high enough before the day goes awry, forcing Idir to make decisions of life or death.
The Test flies by at breakneck speed. I like, many other readers, tore through this in a single sitting. Neuvel does not mince words. He quickly sets the stage as he introduces Idir, and just as promptly turns the world on it’s side less than twenty pages in. This is a masterfully written story that explores the value of a human life, and it rocked me to my core with each twist and turn as the plot unfolded.
The Test by Sylvain Neuvel
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian
Length: 112 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub. Date: February 12, 2019
Source: Personal copy
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Simply put, wow. I needed this book and I had no idea until I picked it up on a whim.
No Man of Woman Born is a collection of seven short stories, all featuring trans and nonbinary characters in epic fantasy settings. Aside from how overjoyed I was with the representation in this collection, I must take a moment to comment on Ana Mardoll’s incredible talent as a writer. In each brief story xie conjures an elaborate, fleshed out world that could support its own collection of tales. Though the world xie creates may be filled with strife and warfare, xer characters persevere. While some protagonists experienced hardship in their past, none suffer gruesome deaths or tragic fates, no characters are deadnamed, and misgendering and bigotry are minimal. Each story elegantly subverts well established tropes in the fantasy genre, and left me smiling each time it did. Mardoll puts the heart of this book best in xer own words:
The heroes and heroines in these pages aren’t special because they are trans; they are special and they are trans.
I loved this book from cover to cover and I highly recommend it to any lovers of fantasy, retellings, and queer fiction. Continue reading “Review: No Man of Woman Born”
I didn’t intend to tear through Andrea Gibson’s collection of poems so quickly, at such a late hour. But now it’s one in the morning and I have been deeply moved by all of their words. I found myself in tears, filled with hope, and warmed by the sweetness of some of these poems- and then through this cycle of these emotions once again. This collection touches on gender, sexuality, love, loss, and the state of our world in an age of apathy. Navigating each topic Gibson writes powerfully and sweetly, in a way that dares you not to connect with this outstanding collection.
Continue reading “Review: Lord of The Butterflies”