Tag: asexuality


Review – Every Heart A Doorway

Posted 25 April, 2016 by Nikki in Reviews / 12 Comments

Cover of Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuireEvery Heart A Doorway, Seanan McGuire

I should probably have written a review the minute I finished this one, but I felt like I needed time to let things settle, and then life took over. For me, it was a really satisfying read, from the plot and setting to the diversity of characters, and it seemed like the perfect length too. Often I want more from novellas, but to me this told the story it had to tell and stopped — with plenty left to think about and wonder about, but not in an unsatisfying way.

My one issue is that there’s one scene that makes the mystery part absolutely obvious: I don’t know if it’s just the way I think, but that was disappointing, because the characters apparently took no notice and then a little while after, there was the actual reveal.

Still, to me the setting — even just the idea — is the central thing: what happens when the story is over, and fairyland spits you back out? I worried about it when I read Cat Valente’s last Fairyland book: how can you go back to normal after that? Wouldn’t normal life be a huge anticlimax — or even just completely baffling? And Every Heart A Doorway deals with that, and with all the different ways people might leave their fairyland, and how they might feel about it. There’s a gorgeously painful part where one of the returnees was trans, and when that was revealed, their world rejected them. And then there’s the way the various worlds fall somewhere on a spectrum between logic and nonsense; the fact that Nancy is (like me) asexual and how that affects her relationships with people; the different ways everyone relates to each other, despite a common background…

Overall, I found it really satisfying, and it emphasised how very much I need to get round to reading more of Seanan McGuire’s work.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – How Not To Summon Your True Love

Posted 27 January, 2016 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of How Not to Summon Your True Love by Sasha L. MillerHow Not To Summon Your True Love, Sasha L. Miller

Received to review via Netgalley

How Not To Summon Your True Love is apparently part of a project at Less Than Three Press to include more asexual and aromantic characters, which is awesome. It is under the title “Solitary Travelers“, which does raise my eyebrow a bit — why are ace/aro people associated once more with being alone, when it looks like these stories celebrate queerplatonic and asexual relationships too, if not in all of them? But still, it’s a nice idea for a project, and I was pleased to see Sasha L. Miller’s book on Netgalley, since I’ve enjoyed her work before (The Errant Prince).

The story itself is a pretty quick read, with a fairly generic magical world set-up — territories, official relationships between those, magical politics, etc. The main character uses a “true love” spell, which summons a naked, soapy, and rather irritated young man into his dorm room. Things go downhill from there, at least from the point of view of the status quo. Suddenly Cy’s on a roadtrip to Idaho, to take Dig (the guy he summoned) back home.

The romance is fairly incidental; there’s little by way of romantic feelings, and it didn’t feel like Cy was that interested in Dig, even in the sense of having a squish. The ending feels like an epilogue, where they decide to try dating. Still, their relationship is cute, their banter along the way is fun, and it’s nice to see an ace protagonist getting the guy and finding out that hey, turns out he’s ace too.

Rating: 3/5

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Review – Clariel

Posted 16 September, 2015 by Nikki in Reviews / 13 Comments

Cover of Clariel by Garth NixClariel, Garth Nix

It’s a bit surprising to me to see the disappointed reviews of this, because I quite enjoyed it. Of course, it’s a different world to the one Sabriel enters, and different even from the world that Lirael and Sameth have to navigate as Sabriel and Touchstone work on restoring the Old Kingdom. This one doesn’t feature any contact with Ancelstierre, and is set before even Touchstone/Torrigan’s time. So naturally, the concerns of its people, the politics, are all quite different. It’s interesting to see an Abhorsen clan which is much larger than that of Sabriel’s time, but which is decidedly weaker; it’s interesting to see in Sameth the diffidence of earlier Abhorsens.

But in fact, I like Clariel herself rather more than Lirael or Sameth. She has goals and she pursues them, and she doesn’t have to take on responsibility, but she does. Of course, all her choices go wrong, unlike Sabriel or Lirael’s. If you think about the guiding words of these books, “Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?” — you could almost say that Sabriel, knowing her choices, chooses her path. Clariel’s path chooses her, because she’s not given the information she needs to make her own choice. In neither case is there really an alternate way, but Sabriel’s path is knowing and Clariel’s is forced.

It’s interesting to get a look at the bloodlines in the land and how they work out in a time of peace. Because of the strength of Sabriel and her father, and Touchstone and Sabriel’s rule, it’s easy in the trilogy to think that when the bloodlines are in the right place, everything will be alright. Clariel shows us that it isn’t, and gives us a picture of the other troubles of the Old Kingdom. There are no Dead creatures here in this book; instead we see the Abhorsens and Charter mages needing to deal with the other threat, of Free Magic.

One thing I really loved, on a character-level, is that Clariel is explicitly asexual. She’s not interested, she’s not going to change her mind for the right person or something, and like many ace people, she’s even experimented a bit to try and figure out how that all works. It’s awesome that she doesn’t really have conflict about this, and while people think she may be mistaken, nobody’s pushing her to “fix” it, or guilting her because she doesn’t want that.

In a way, the story feels very incomplete, because it’s just a fragment of a life, a tiny piece of the history of the Old Kingdom, and it doesn’t connect up the dots between this book and the original trilogy. There is plenty of room for many, many more stories, even ones featuring the same characters, should Nix choose. But we do have the shape of Clariel’s life sketched out for us, between this book and the original trilogy; I think it may be more satisfying seen that way, rather than read as a stand-alone.

Rating: 4/5

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Review – What Do You Mean You’re Not Interested In Sex?

Posted 26 October, 2013 by Nikki in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of What Do You Mean You're Not Interested in Sex? by Amanda LeeWhat Do You Mean You’re Not Interested In Sex?, Amanda Lee

Full disclosure: I know the author and was a proofreader for this. It’s available free on Smashwords, so if it interests you, I do recommend it. Considering the number of people I’ve come across who identify as asexual, it’s amazing that there isn’t more commentary available on it.

Amanda Lee’s paper is a personal and academic exploration of the phenomenon, and covers a lot of the things people don’t understand about it. It’s not at all difficult to read, and it’s not reserved for academics either — the style is plain and accessible. It defines the terms it’s using early on, so there’s no problems there.

Normally I would feel that it isn’t anyone’s business, but it can be pretty isolating, so I guess this is a version of coming out: I’m ace (i.e. asexual) myself. Human bodies can be aesthetically pleasing but if I think too much about it, blech. Please do not remind me that Chris Evans (Captain America) has internal organs; if I think about that too much, I might lose my tiny crush on him.

If right now you’re feeling the urge to say things like, “Are you like that because you were abused or something?”, “you’re using that word wrong” or “you just haven’t met the right person yet”, please follow the link earlier in the review: you’ll find your answers right there, and there are helpful headings in the essay itself to direct you at exactly what you want to know.

Review on Goodreads.

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