This has been a delightful queer anthology of short stories, poetry, comics, essays, with an academic paper or two tossed in for good measure. The contributors come from all over the world, some from North and South America, then across the pond from UK, Europe and parts of Asia.
I absolutely adored the comic, "Hazmat Romance" that graced the first few pages of this book. It was dark yet hilarious, and was strangely evocative.
The next piece, "Necessary Monsters" by Robert Stirrups was a blast to read. It narrated the events from the point of view of a young student who's repeatedly harassed by a fellow classmate who often drew a penis on his books and papers. The ending was unexpected and surprising, a fitting end to a lovely recount that would encourage every youth who's ever faced bullying.
I liked how the collection dealt with issues of eating disorders, rape, drag, and more. It's like nothing I've ever read and I'm so glad that there is a publisher brave enough to tackle all these taboo topics all in one book.
"The Boy Is..." by Nic Lachance is a case in point. Devoid of capitalisation, this mini memoir, affixed with a trigger warning, is a stream-of-consciousness gem of writing that talks frankly about masturbation, mild BDSM, trauma, and abuse among other things.
There were several pieces that shouted "girl power" and I was pleased with the fact that they featured female-identified persons taking control of situations that might have otherwise beaten them down.
I also loved how almost every letter of the LGBTQIA+ family is represented in this collection as genderqueer, non-binary and agender characters are not often found in many English language publications.
There is literally something here for everyone.
If I had but one complaint about this otherwise brilliant anthology, it would be the incongruous nature of the academic papers, placed in the middle of the book, that really disrupted the otherwise perfect flow I had reading this volume. However, I do acknowledge that the publisher probably wanted to provide a good range of various sorts of writing, so I reluctantly accept their presence as they would likely appeal to certain readers. For all its worth, they were pretty educational to boot, although too dry and lengthy for my liking.
Finally, I must absolutely mention the sci-fi short stories that were found near the end of this volume. I was blown away by Julya Oui's "Last of the Bona Fide Brothels" that was set in a Southeast-Asian country - Malaysia, that kept me on the edge of my seat.
"The Archivist" by Eris Young was also amazing. I liked the main character's tenacity and I was glad that they finally forged a future for themselves at the end of the story.
Disclaimer: I was given an electronic copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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