Vanilla by Billy Merrell



DNF at 9%

Hedwig disapproves.

I’m reviewing this book so quickly after DNFing because I want it off of my currently reading shelf. I don’t want it there and I’m getting rid of it as fast as possible. So, this book is currently unpublished, however, I don’t have an author or publisher to thank. I was sent this book by a blogger who read it, found it aphobic, and now her review got blasted aroundΒ as proof of its insensitivity by people who didn’t read it. So, thank you, Taylor, for sending this to me.

Basically, I saw controversy like with The Black Witch and I wanted to give it a try. I reached out to her and she actually sent it to me. Like The Black Witch, this isn’t my usual sort of book. I rarely read poetry and I’m not a huge YA fan. Unlike The Black Witch, this book deserves people to call it out for what it is.

The general plot is that Vanilla and Hunter (which are nicknames for them and they never get called anything else) have been dating since middle school and haven’t had sex yet. Hunter doesn’t like that and wants to do it. Vanilla doesn’t and is asexual… without (as far as I read) saying he is. It has lots of stereotypes and common beliefs tossed in about asexuality.

That’s not inherently bad. I’m all for people exposing those issues and even showing reader’s why they’re wrong. I’m also not averse to people not in the community writing in that voice. The thing is, you just have to do more research and sensitivity reading to find out if you’re portraying voices correctly.

Books need to expose and confront issues that they handle. This book did exposure well. Confrontation? Not so much.

My biggest issue with this book was that the author’s intent was confused. Was it okay for Vanilla to be an ace? Is it valid that he is? Is Vanilla unsure? Are their names supposed to confront how sexual people view aces and how some aces view sexual people? None of those questions were answered. What I was left with was feeling a touch triggered by the aphobia, especially since it wasn’t confronted. It felt as if the author didn’t have an opinion and sort of let it slide. Maybe he was trying to let the reader make up their mind about it… which isn’t fair or right since aphobia is rampant and not many people understand asexuality.

I didn’t read all of this book. I knew I couldn’t because of the way the topic was handled. Aphobia was presented and let slide and basically, it seemed like the author was saying it was fine by not addressing it. I don’t get the high rating for this book. It’s higher than The Black Witch as of writing this review. (Which doesn’t surprise me. Homophobia = bad. Aphobia = meh.)

Personally, I say give this book a hard pass. There are other books that confront aphobia and the reality of being a romantic ace better than this one.

4 thoughts on “Vanilla by Billy Merrell

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