DNF at 14% – 1/5
First thing’s first.
I am asexual. I’ve identified as such since I was about 15-16 (and I’m nearly 22 now). Sex doesn’t interest me that much. While I, personally, would never discount that I could find someone I want to do that with or would feel comfortable doing it with, I’m not interested in it.
And when I heard about this book, I was so excited. Finally, a book about asexuality while embracing that you can be attracted romantically to people. Last year, I read Tash Hearts Tolstoy and thought it was a really solid book. So, I was getting excited that there would be another one out there for teens figuring out their sexuality.
Yet, it reminded me more of Vanilla, minus it offending me to the core. It just made me sad.
From the first chapter, something felt off.
I thought that it was the writing at first. Instead of it being in first-person, it was in third and Kahn kept putting comments that were what Alice, the MC, was thinking. It made the page very cluttered and confusing. Just put them in the story. Or make it first-person. Or just make it omniscient. Either way, it grated on my nerves to the point where I couldn’t concentrate on the words.
Then, it kind of got odd with her ex-girlfriend. She was demonized for wanting a sexual relationship to feel fulfilled while Alice was asexual. Maybe, just maybe, Alice should have said something before entering the relationship with someone who, as the book says, is hyper-sexual? (I have issues with the use of that, especially with the judgy tone it was used with. Everyone has different libidos and it’s all okay.) I get Alice was nervous about telling someone, but if you want an open and honest relationship, you kind of have to say something about your needs.
Then, the ace rep felt… problematic. I’ve studied asexuality for my BA in psychology, along with having my personal experiences. Most studies have found that aces respond to pornography like sexual people. They just have no interest in doing it. Alice, however, apparently didn’t respond sexually at all, even when having sex.
It just… struck me as odd. As inaccurate. Now, I’m not saying there aren’t aces who honestly feel nothing down there, even when stimulated, but that’s not what studies have found on average.
I’m not saying that the statistics found in studies covers all ace experience. If you read this book and felt that it represented you perfectly, I am so happy for you! And I’m not being sarcastic either. I’m happy that you felt represented. However, I don’t think this covered all the nuances of asexuality that are out there.
It got weirder when Alice stated at one point she didn’t have any code or whatever for a shirtless guy. She’s biromantic. So. She doesn’t find a shirtless, ripped guy aesthetically pleasing? Then, a few chapters later, she has a freaking break down over some guy who looked cute to her? It just… it didn’t add up to me. You don’t have a response to someone shirtless but you lose your shit like a twelve-year-old over a cute guy.
It felt like it was perpetuating old stereotypes that aces don’t feel sexual pleasure when research says a lot of aces masturbate or are able to call someone who is hot really hot… without wanting to have sex. Speaking for myself here, I can look at people and say that they are really attractive, but that doesn’t mean I want to have sex.
Add on top of that annoying characters who I couldn’t connect to at all because they felt like children and a writing style and characters that got on my last nerves within 10 pages equals a very unhappy Caidyn.
It’s even worse since I really wanted to like this book. I would have pushed through it, but I could tell I’d end up in a slump if I did. It upset me to write this review, but I wanted to say something amid all the glowing responses. Again, if you felt represented, that’s amazing. Just that I didn’t and I’m really sad that I didn’t when I thought I would.