April 8th, 2013
Static by L.A. Witt
I want to just say that this book reaffirmed my stance on women writing male/male love stories. Now Im not saying a woman cant write a beautifully written love story between two men. I am definitely not saying that. But it seems as though us "women" put as little research to the dynamics of a true queer love story.
Static has a slight paranormal feeling. Extreme emphasis on slight. In this book there are humans who can shift genders who are known as "shifters." Ironically they are apart of the queer community and are hated on as much as someone transgender, but they are not quite transgender. The main character Alex finds herself drugged, and with an implant from her "God-Fearing mother and step dad" and sketchy pastor that prevents her from shifting genders. She find herself "static" a term to describe someone who can not shift, or heterosexual/cis gender and 100% male. She is not ashamed of her body, but this comes to a surprise to her boyfriend of 2 years Damon. He had no idea she was a shifter, and him not being attracted to men, they have no idea where their relationship is headed.
Can I say that these types of books are an actual insult to the transgender identity. The initial synopsis of this book intrigued me, but I had to shake my head laughing almost every other chapter.
The pacing is ok, I mean it's not life changing but it works. My main issue is with the plot itself. I think the plot would have taken more research had Alex been actually transgender and not some made up term for someone who can shift between both. I wont claim to know a whole lot about transgender identity, but I sure as hell know it aint this.
The world building behind the story just reaffirms that default(white, straight, cis gender, you know the drill) writers just take issues that actual marginalized groups have to experience, and turn around and make profit for it.
I didnt find Alex that relatable. I wish I did, but my main issue with her? She had a type of privilege that she hid behind, and didn't even know it. Being a shifter allowed her to "blend" , or rather keep her privilege. I dont deny that in this story she had it difficult, but as a shifter, when she was female she was 100% female, when male, the same. She thought she was being so revolutionary for "choosing" to be female in a male dominated world, but really all she did was cower and hide to keep her white, straight, cis gender privilege.
Her male form? Was gay. Because she was attracted to men, it carried over to her male side, so she was a straight woman, but a gay male between switches. I had to wonder what this story wouldve been like had Alex been someone dealing with being actually transgender.
I could've seen this book from a whole new light had it been from her boss' point of view, someone actually transgender. And the fact Alex continued to show her privilege by pointing out Tabby's "strange" relationship with her parents. As if it's so out of the ordinary for parents to love their children regardless of sexual orientation/identity. I will admit it isn't easy. But give humanity some credit. Not everyone hates queer people, and it isn't easy to deal with, but parents deal with it because they love their children. I don't think having a close relationship despite being transgender is so out of the ordinary.
Damon? Hmm...It is also told from his perspective, which I liked. I love dual perspectives, but I just think he's not fleshed out well enough for me to be in love with him. He's extremely noble, and that's saying a lot considering our society of the brain washing of men to be a certain way. But this whole "Gay For You" storyline is....it's just an insult to anyone who is actually going through this. Im not saying it could never happen, I've definitely seen it. But what takes down this story? That he was in a relationship for two years. And with no knowledge of Alex's status, he has no real time to come to terms with it.
I would've liked it better had he known all along, or had his guesses, and came to terms with it on his own, instead of it being shoved in his face. Not trying to be funny, but having a homeboy to watch sports with, and down a few beers? Then having a girlfriend whom you're physically attracted to in one person? I don't know a lot of guys who would turn that down.
I think the language of the book is too lazy. It's as if none of the main characters can have a conversation without swearing. I know they're going through a lot, and trust me, I swear like a sailor, but it brought the book down for me. It made them come off as angry, vicious, and incapable of having an intelligent way to convey anger. There aren't as many grammatical errors and the point of view's are clear, but I think it's still lazy writing.
Sorry. Cant give any points on diversity. I don't pass them out like cookies. While Alex was a shifter, she could keep her privilege, and that just didn't sit well with me. And everyone in this book was white, as they weren't stated as much else. There was absolutely no intersectionality in this book. No disabled shifters, or queer characters, none of color, pretty much all lily white people who shout to the world "discrimination!" because their privilege is suddenly taken from them.
This book doesn't empower people actually dealing with these issues. You know why? Because anyone who actually is transgender is essentially background music. Their story isn't important, but it's great to draw from, right? Leads me to believe the writer has absolutely no experience with people that are different from them.
The transgender identity is complicated. But No female to male, or male to female, feels both. When you are transgender, you are essentially a male trapped in a female body, or a female trapped in a male body. You dont get to CHOOSE.
I think the title fits, and while I received it on Netgalley, I loved Netgalley's cover. It lead me to believe this story would be something more fantasy driven, but it is essentially a male-male love story, which I would've had no issue with with better research. Character names, just ok. Nothing revolutionary. I think I know what Alex looked like, but Damon, Im not sure. The author didn't describe people very well, so I assume they expect you to just picture the beautiful White Hollywood we've come to know.
Overall, I will take careful steps to gender ambiguous names when it comes to male-male love stories. Unless it's written by a man, or suggested from an actual queer male who thinks it's showcasing queer men or women right, I'll pass.
Was provided an e-copy from Netgalley
I actually didnt connect enough with the sea of no color to imagine them anything other than what I see in movies and books now.