Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann

Published: 4th June 2019 Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Square Fish
Pages: 281
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult
★ – 1 Star

Alice had her whole summer planned. Nonstop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library-employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated–or understood.

I picked this up after the praise it got for being a good asexual book but it’s not great on a lot of other fronts. I know I am probably disliking a book based on character behaviours which are valid and not every character is perfect or likeable, but there are also structural and plot issues too.

I stopped and started a lot, there was a lot of eye rolling, and general confusion about the story. I don’t know what I thought this was going in, but it’s not what I expected.

In terms of the rest of the writing, it’s jarring – too many side comments in brackets, which obviously I do myself so I’m not faulting them, but there were a lot to the point of disruption. Plus a lot were less for commentary and more for things that either could have been explained better in narrative or were obvious and didn’t need additional clarification. I’ve seen a few comments that it might be the third person writing when it should be first which might have helped it flow a bit better, especially if Kann wants to include so many of Alice’s thoughts and opinions.

The repetition and overuse of “cute” makes Alice appear naïve almost childlike, and her dialogue is annoying in other ways as well. Whether it was because she was questioning her sexuality or lack thereof she couldn’t be mature, she needed to be regressed in some way and naïve I don’t know; even if it was unintentional that is how it came across.

I didn’t really care about any of the characters, except maybe Ryan and Feenie but they are side characters to Alice and the little bits we get are nice but only liking side characters isn’t really a wining feature of a book.

Alice is from a rich family but wants to make it on her own. Her family is overbearing and her mum uses her siblings to manipulate her into doing things she doesn’t want to do which is terrible but brings a nice complexity to the characters when there is little substance elsewhere.

Takumi is super sweet, perfect looking, and health conscious bordering on annoying if Kann hadn’t restrained herself. I took it as a character choice and judged Takumi A LOT but I accepted his unconventional behaviour. But as the story went on there were a few scenes that became so incredulous I felt Kann took Takumi’s philosophies too far in unrealistic and absurd directions.  I am unreasonably including his disrespect of Winnie the Pooh in my otherwise reasonable dislike of this book.

Far from the weird asexual rep, let’s discuss the bad library rep. Alice mentions the library she works at is better than the industrial boring academic library because it has wonderful nooks and colours and feels cosy. And then not long after Head Librarian Essie and her discuss how it’s boring and nothing is happening and she hates having a boring job. Can I say, no matter what level you’re at, there is always something to do in a library. Stop perpetuating these bad myths I beg you. Yay for librarian characters that aren’t old women with glasses and cardigans but stop saying the job is boring.

My second issue is having a head librarian who seems to dismiss any form of communication that is not library related because they’ve “clocked on” (I mean having to remember to clock on and off each day even at lunch sounds nightmarish let alone the ban on normal conversations during worktime). Plus watching a staff member do storytime and be chastised for it seems unfair.

Frustrated librarian opinions aside, it’s possible a lot of this is my early dislike of this book and I kept finding fault everywhere that no one else has even noticed. I struggled to get into this book from the start and essentially skimmed the last 100 pages. It clearly wasn’t meant to be with this story which is a genuine shame. It’s been listed on so many book lists for good Ace representation it must be deemed enjoyable to those who read it and find it good representation.  However, this is the eighth book I’ve read that has asexual characters in it and even those that don’t have their asexuality as a focal point portray a better asexual person than Kann has with this.

You can purchase Let’s Talk About Love via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (#1) by Hank Green

Published: 25th September 2018Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Dutton
Pages: 343
Format: Paperback
Genre: Science Fiction
★   ★   ★   ★   ★ – 5 Stars

The Carls just appeared.

Roaming through New York City at three AM, twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship—like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armour—April and her best friend, Andy, make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day, April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world—from Beijing to Buenos Aires—and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the centre of an intense international media spotlight.

Seizing the opportunity to make her mark on the world, April now has to deal with the consequences her new particular brand of fame has on her relationships, her safety, and her own identity. And all eyes are on April to figure out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

I waited a very long time for this book and it did not disappoint when it finally came. I was excited to see what Hank Green’s stories would be like given his love for science fiction as well as his internet experience and what I got was an absolutely remarkable story (I had to I’m sorry!).

Green pulls you along with intrigue and a casual writing style that you fall into comfortably. There’re also so many twists and turns that keep you guessing throughout that it’s hard to put it down for want of knowing what is happening next. The mystery of the Carls and their influence on the world plus April’s involvement and the impact it has on her life is so gripping and astounding it really shows the highs and low of internet fame.

You can certainly see Hank’s years of YouTube knowledge and experience coming through, also perhaps in part his experience of internet fame, maybe not to the extent shown in the book, but it feels like it stems from truth. I liked how we are shown the best and absolute worst of the internet and it never sounded exaggerated or unbelievable. Parts of this story also reminded me of Ready Player One which was delightful because I adore that book, but I think that’s just my mind seeing similarities.

I loved the complicated, flawed characters and their friendships and connections with one another. April’s friendship with Andy, as well as her relationship with her girlfriend, could be just as complicated and messy as the drama surrounding the Carls. Human nature is on show and the behaviour of society felt real and scary and the imperfectness of these characters was refreshing in a way.

The ending was the best kick in the guts you could ever want and because so much has happened you don’t even know how to process it. After going on this wild adventure and all that happens my mind pretty much short circuited when it finished and then the intense desire of not only wanting but needing the sequel kicked in.

You can purchase An Absolutely Remarkable Thing via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible