Review: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (2015)
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Drama
Categories: M/M, hidden identity
Content Warnings (highlight to read): Deals with homophobia & includes homophobic slurs.
Buy it at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Description: Simon, a high schooler in a small town, is gay, and nobody should know except for the mysterious boy with whom he exchanges anonymous emails. Except someone else does know—and that person has decided to blackmail him for his help in hooking up with one of Simon’s friends. How can Simon keep his grades up, decide how to come out to his friends and family, act in the school play, deal with high school friend drama, try to track down the boy he’s pretty sure he’s falling in love with, and negotiate the shady territory of being blackmailed into manipulating his own besties, all at the same time?
Review: Willful Machines by Tim Floreen (2015)
“As my datelike thing with Nico drew closer, the fears careening around in my head multiplied. What if Nico got flirty again? What if he didn’t get flirty again?”
– Willful Machines, Tim Floreen
Genre: Science fiction, YA
Categories: M/M, futuristic, robots
Content Warnings (highlight to read): Some terms & references to race that were… cause for pause. White mc calling himself ‘Kamikaze Lee,’ exoticising the love interest, etc.
Description: Equal parts romance and sci-fi thriller, Willful Machines is the story of the closeted son of the US president unraveling an elaborate plot involving robots & artificial intelligence… while also falling in love with the new boy at school. (And I think you can see where this is going, but I’m not going to outright spoil it for you).
“In the near future, scientists create what may be a new form of life: an artificial human named Charlotte. All goes well until Charlotte escapes, transfers her consciousness to the Internet, and begins terrorizing the American public.”
Review: The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater (2016)
“Strange he hadn’t had a premonition of what this place would become to him all those months ago. But maybe not. So much of magic—of power, in general—required belief as a prerequisite.”
– The Raven King, Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Urban fantasy, YA
Categories: M/M, M/F, YA, multiple narrators, wizards/magicians, mythology, ghosts
Content Warnings (highlight to read): N/A
Description: A sharply-written YA series about slowly uncovering the magic underneath the mundane day-to-day world. The series follows Blue, slightly put-upon daughter of a house of psychics, and her adventures with the Raven Boys—private school boys with their own evolving mysterious pasts and destinies. Boys that could be kings, men that might be trees, magic dream worlds, ghosts, fortune-telling, high-maintenance murderers, cars, and bees?—There’s a lot there.
“For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.”
Review: Timekeeper by Tara Sim (2016)
“Danny had most certainly fallen down the rabbit hole. He didn’t know if he ever wanted to return.”
– Timekeeper, Tara Sim
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Categories: M/M, alternate history
Content Warnings (highlight to read): N/A
Description: Danny is a clock mechanic, tasked with keeping the world’s clocktowers running in an alternate Victorian world. These clocktowers literally keep time: if a town’s tower is broken, time around it grows out of sync, or may even stop entirely, trapping those inside its influence in an infinite loop. When a series of bombings starts attacking clocktowers around England, Danny urgently works to solve the mystery, alongside a mysterious clock spirit that he becomes very invested in protecting.
4/5 stars. Buy at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Style by Chelsea Cameron is a super-cute teen romance where sexy cheerleader meets cute nerd—frenemies to lovers style!
Stella is the hot cheerleader and ice queen. She’s the master of the resting bitch face and keeps everyone at arm’s length. Kyle is a nerd with big glasses, hair up in a bun, and a limp. The two have totally different social circles and no interest in each other—until one day, they start to notice each other and then can’t seem to stop noticing. This would probably be something they could ignore until they’re assigned to work together in AP English. From there, it’s a fast and furious rush into love and sexual awakenings, the tangled confusion of coming out to family and friends, trying to find terms for yourself and your relationship, all mixed with teenage concerns like what’s ok to do in your parents’ house and how you can juggle a relationship and upcoming college plans.
Style was a very nostalgic read for me, because I came out at fourteen and was the nerdy teen with big glasses and a limp myself. I found myself relating to Kyle quite a bit and reflecting back on my own life while reading. It makes it hard to leave an objective review on the content in a lot of ways, but it makes it even more important to me that this exists. I know the author, in her acknowledgements, talked about how important this was to her to write and be able to reflect and honour her own realizations, and it was a story for her—but it felt, too, like it was a story for me. I think a lot of people will probably feel that way.
Personal attachment aside—the writing is strong, the narration is sharp, and it’s a fun and uplifting read. The turns of phrase often had me laughing out loud, and beyond that, it’s an optimistic book. It believes in the best of people and does its best to uplift the characters, their relationships, and their choices—without undercutting their fear.
One thing I did trip over while reading was that it alternates POVs and both are first-person POVs, but both have very, very similar sassy-teen-girl narrative voices. The POV is labelled whenever it switches, but I automatically skip over chapter headers when reading things in one sitting, so I’d sometimes get half a page into a new POV before it clicked that we switched, and it was occasionally difficult to remember who had what thought (though their lives are different enough that the events were easy to distinguish).
Very cute story, very fun, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more ladies in love from this author!