When I go into someone’s house or apartment for the first time, I find myself especially drawn to their bookshelves. I want to see the books that they read and the ones they have on display. I like to know which ones have mattered enough to keep, which ones are dogeared and worn, and which are on the stack to be read next.
This week I read “Songs for the New Depression” by Kergan Edwards-Stout. I had heard this book totally raved about. On Amazon it has 26 five star ratings and 1 one star rating. After slogging through the entire book, I’m with the one star reviewer (and I’m not even going to link to the book it was that bad).
The book tells the story (in his own voice) of Gabe Travers, a gay man who has HIV. The book starts with the end portion of Gabe’s life, then the next section is the middle of his life, then the last section of the book covers when Gabe is a teenager. We’re made to believe that the reason Gabe is the way he is is because of the things that happened to him in high school. The problem is that Gabe is an entirely unlikeable character from start to finish. He is selfish and arrogant and mean. He is the worst stereotype of what it is to be a gay man.
The book, while not terribly written, also isn’t great. And Gabe is so, so unlikeable. I didn’t care what happened to him; honestly I was rooting against him. The book was filled with sexist stuff, saying that gay men are terrified of vaginas, there was abelist language, transphobic language, and multiple times he spoke as if he could do anything he wanted simply because he had a big penis (there are multiple mentions of the size of his penis).
Such an awful book.
I also read Pandemonium (Delirium) by Lauren Oliver. This book is the second in the “Delirium” trilogy. I read the first book without realizing it was going to be a trilogy and that definitely colored my perceptions of that first book. Overall, though, this second book is much better. It’s a dystopian young adult novel set in a world where love has been declared a disease and outlawed. Instead, when people reach a certain age, they are given a medical cure that renders them passionless.
I don’t want to give too much away, but this is a really interesting world. The characters are complicated and fascinating, the religious overtones throughout are thought provoking, and the story moves at a really great pace. I am excited to see how she finishes out the series.
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