ARC Review: Camp by L. C. Rosen

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Camp by L. C. Rosen
Published: Penguin Random House UK Children’s (May 28th 2020)
Genre: young adult; contemporary
Rep: gay Jewish mc, half-Korean gay Jewish li, Middle Eastern gay Jewish side character, demi lesbian side character, Afro-Brazilian-American sapphic side character, Black trans side character, nonbinary side character, gay side characters (really, an LGBT cast)
Rating: 4/5 🍑

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First things first: if you’ve read the blurb and you’re kind of worried about the whole ‘pretending to be someone else to get a boy’ thing – don’t be. It’s handled with so much grace; Randy is being called out on his ridiculous plan by basically anyone who knows about it, constantly. The words “trick him to love you” are used. It’s not a cheap plot device, it’s a driving force of the book and there are countless discussions regarding it.

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ARC Review: Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye

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Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye
Published: Penguin Random House Children’s UK (May 21st 2020)
Genre: young adult; contemporary
Rep: mixed-race gay mc, mlm li, gay side character, Indian side character
Tw: homophobia, bullying, fights, outing, another very public outing, unsupportive parents
Rating: 1/5 🍑

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In a word, in a phrase? It’s a preachy bulshit. If you’re looking for a light, cute gay romcom, you should keep looking. This book is not it.

The thing we can all agree on is that stories need angst to actually make sense. You can call it conflict or whatever else, but something in the plot has to stop working for a while, for the whole book to start working in the end. The problem is, the cause for that can’t feel like bordeline tragedy porn, can’t feel like kicking one already down, repeatedly.

That’s what Date Me, Bryson Keller failed to grasp.

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ARC Review: Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

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Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales
Published: Wednesday Books (March 3rd 2020)
Genre: young adult; contemporary, retelling
Rep: gay mc, bi Venezuelan li, bi side character, plus-sized poc side character, poc side characters
Tw: cancer, off-page death, homophobia, biphobia, fatphobia
Rating: 4/5 🍑

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This is a very fun book, largely due to Ollie (the protagonist) who’s simply, in the very wise words of Will, ridiculous. I want to make some things clear, though, before we proceed: this is also a messy book. It’s messy in a way that none of the characters are perfect, and they keep making mistakes, and no one is really 100% in the right. It’s messy in a way that life (especially life of a teenager) is messy and totally not black-and-white. I just know not everyone enjoys stories like that.

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ARC Review: By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery

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By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery
Published: Page Street (October 8th 2019)
Genre: young adult; contemporary
Rep: Black gay mc, Afro-Latino bi li, almost all Black side characters
Rating: 4/5 🍑

 

 

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ARC provided by the publisher.

I have so much love for this book, I’m not even sure where to start. Let’s just make a list and get through it step by step.

1) The writing style is really cool. It’s first person pov, which I know isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it works perfectly here. It’s clear that Montgomery knows how teenagers think, so it’s never awkward in that particular way only some YA books can be. Instead, it’s fresh & funny & casual. It’s like hanging out with a friend, basically. And then you get treated with a beautiful sentence here and there & it becomes magical.

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ARC Review: The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen

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The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen
Published: Tor Teen (September 24th 2019)
Genre: young adult; contemporary, science-fiction
Rep: mlm mc, gay mc with depression
Rating: 2/5 🍑

 

 

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ARC provided by the publisher.

You know that picture of a horse that starts really beautiful & detailed and ends like something drawn by a three-year-old? That’s this book.

It starts really good, fun even, with a dual first person pov. It’s engaging, it’s interesting, it’s intriguing. You think you’re safe. You think you’re reading a solid four stars book. And then, in the last fifty pages or so, the spell breaks. (And you catch yourself thinking of all the little things you were overlooking up until now, because on the whole the book still was good.)

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ARC Review: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

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On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Published: Vintage, Jonathan Cape imprint (June 20th 2019)
Genre: adult; contemporary
Rep: gay Vietnamese mc (ownvoices), gay li, Vietnamese characters
Rating: 5/5 🍑

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ARC provided by the publisher.

Ocean Vuong is first & foremost a poet and On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is his literary debut (he also has a poem by the same title). It’s not a novel novel, though, not in this very Western sense we’re all used to. There are no prominent arcs or villains, or any ascending tension. It’s described as a letter from a son to his mother & that’s how it reads, but you could also call it a memoir and not be too far off the mark.

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