If you watch the same TV shows (jk I don’t watch TV) and read the same books, then you may have noticed a token gay character thrown into the mix. That means any of the following: a gay best friend, a guy in a very tight shirt who mistakenly comes up to a straight guy in a bar, a manic pixie dream girl who makes a woman question her orientation, a girl who “doesn’t like labels.” To those of us who are queer or simply interested in having well-rounded, original characters this gets pretty annoying.
The obvious answer is to go and find literature where queer characters are important enough that they can’t be killed off. I’m looking at you “The One Hundred.”
By queer lit, I do not mean books that are exclusively purposed and centric around the ambiguous and otherizing concept of queer ‘culture’. I think that representation works best when it is treated non chalantly, with respect but ultimately as not the whole story.
The twisting narrative of love between Syl and Euphoria is a tribute the the complexities of both queer girls and teengers! It is the type of book that should fill at least a slot on every B&N bookshelf.
The strength of this book is the manner of respect with which it treats the characters. It doesn’t have the same tinge of flattery or fetishism that plagues the genre (particularly, books about lesbians). It also doesn’t pander with the U-Haul trope; in fact, the love is rather protracted in finding its way to fulfillment. The two girls are of different faerie cultures and unalike in presentation. It is by all means a normal love story, as much as it can be when two faerie elites are hunting each other to the death.
You could say the social politics of Richmond Elite High are… complicated. Syl remembers only bits of the night she was caught in train crash. Her best friend, who was there, won’t even speak to her. When it comes time for back to school, Syl has to juggle increasingly mysterious dreams accident, helping out her single mother, and the mysterious leather clad new girl.
Euphoria, bound by a Moribund curse that infects one of her arms, is in pursuit of the last sleeper princess. She has killed every other to power the city of her family. After failing once to kill Syl, she has come back, this time dogged by her hunter overlord Agravaine. She tries to find out which of the two girls who were at the tracks are the sleeper, staging an elaborate plot to find out. At the same time, she starts falling oh-so-not-very slowly for Syl.
Not gonna lie, I have a bit of a crush on Euphoria. We’ve all had fictional crushes so please wipe that eye roll off your lovely faces. Hear me out. Euphoria is a violinist, dark faerie, exiled princess, leather-wearing, motorcycle-riding, badass queer lady. She is the highlight of the book. It is frankly worth reading just to inject some of that feminist positivity into your life.
I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes queer YA, or dark modern fantasy. The characters are gorgeous and the plot is fresh and well-paced. A heart-pumping ride that will warm you up right as Fall chill starts to hit.