I’ve never been a romance person. I find it tedious in my fiction and inconvenient in my day-to-day life.
This is socially acceptable when you’re a kid but once I got to being a teenager and I still had no interest in the roulette of dating that was happening around me, people started to make comments. My friends were always pointing out that so-and-so probably liked me, or that I was flirting with such-and-such so why don’t I find out if they like me? (Personally I was just trying to be nice to people and I think what counts as “flirting” should take into account intention).
Even with all of this attention, I didn’t date anyone as a teenager–I just wasn’t interested. Which meant I was a freak and a robot, apparently.
It wasn’t until I was out of high school that I heard the word “asexual” and discovered that there were actually people like me all over the place. It made me wonder what it might have been like if I had heard of the term sooner or if the people around me had known about it.
So when I heard about this book and how it had a character who was asexual–and not, in fact, a robot–I went to my library and said “give book please!”
I don’t want to give you the wrong idea–this is not a book about asexuality. It’s a book about a demon/spirit/thing from another dimension that eats teenage girls. The fact that one of the characters is asexual is a subplot.
Genre: YA Fantasy/Horror
Length: 450 Pages
Published October 2nd 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books
Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep. He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep. Who are the Sawkill Girls? Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find. Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is. Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies. Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires. Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.
So, let’s talk about the main plot of this novel. The presents of a sinister and masculine force preying on young women isn’t a new concept in horror. Even the inclusion of other women helping this force isn’t new. What makes this story compelling is the way LeGrand writes it.
I know, seems obvious, but let me wax poetical for a moment.
LeGrand starts by making Sawkill feel like an actual place. It has been there since the beginning of time. The people who live there have been there for countless generations. There is so much weight and solidity to the setting–a very important element to the plotting of this novel–that I believe in its existence.
And if the place is real, so inseparable from its history, then the monsters must be real too.
At least while I’m reading it.
Not only does LeGrand make the world incredibly tactile but the characters and adversaries as well. Horror is all about manipulating sensation in the audience. Fantasy is all about building a history for the fantastical. LeGrand has intertwined both beautifully into a story that not only horrifies you because of what is happening currently to the main cast but also horrifies you when you stop to think about how long this has been happening.
I want to preface my comments in this section with this statement: yes, I’m female. Yes, I think equality/feminism is important. Yes, girl power and being proud of who you are.
No, I don’t hate men.
If I had one thing about this book that I knew would be a problem from the beginning it’s the vibe that this was going to be a “girl book”. There’s nothing wrong with writing a book about women for women. Bring on the powerful women leads and lasting female friendships!
However, there tends to be this weird binary where being pro-women means also being anti-men.
Now, this book is not an extreme case of this by any means. Most of the time there is nothing to call attention to anything of this nature… Until the ending.
Here’s a quote that keeps coming up from this book:
“Screw that book,” said Val. “It was written by men.” She held out her free hand to Marion. “We’re rewriting it.”
This line could have been written in such a way that it would have had the same defiant, victory over the odds feeling to it without making men into the villains (men are literally villains in this book… there’s a cult of them).
Needless to say, this took me out of the story a little bit.
I honestly think that there are a lot of things about this novel that are really amazing and tried to create a world with diversity and issues that don’t find there way into young adult novels often. However, it didn’t quite get to what I perceived to be its end goal. I think this is one of those novels that did something challenging and even a little innovated which means that it will also be controversial.
Overall, this was a really fast and engaging read.
Any other books that you think I should take a look at? Feel free to leave a comment or message me through email at firstname.lastname@example.org!