Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Review Time! - As I Descended by Robin Talley







Title: As I Descended

Author: Robin Talley


Genre: YA, Ghost Story, Horror, LGBTQ+ (F/F and M/M)

Release Date: 6th September 2016

Amazon: UK - USA





A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.

A young adult re-telling of Macbeth. In a boarding school. With LGBTQ+ protagonists. Hell yes!

I sooo wanted to read this - so much so that when my request to receive an eArc was declined on Edelweiss, I marched myself straight over the NetGalley to see if it was listed there.

And on NetGalley I was approved!!!!!!! XD XD

Happy book nerd all around!!!!!!!





Premise:

Lily wants her girlfriend to come to the same college as her after they graduate.

Maria deserves the best, and the Cawdor Kingsley prize would mean the scholarship of her choice. It would be perfect.

The thing standing in their way? Queen bee Delilah Dufrey.

It wasn't meant to go down like this. But after that night with the Ouija board, nothing goes to plan.

They wanted Delilah out of the way, and they just might get it.





Best bits:

Let's just take a moment to appreciate the diversity in this book:

The central relationship is between two girlfriends, one of which is Latinx and the other of which is disabled.

The two main supporting characters are boyfriends Mateo (another Latinx character) and Brandon.

None of this feels forced, and none of the characters feel 2-dimensional.

As well as being diverse, it is a damn good horror/ghost story.

With enough nods to the original Macbeth to keep the bard lovers reading, Talley weaves a story full of creepy tension and layers of meaning.









Because there is some deep sh** going on beneath the surface here - themes of ambition, insecurity, and hypocrisy all feature.

And Talley doesn't shy away from the issues either.

Her characters face the sting of homophobia in a variety of forms, and the irritation of being the only people of colour (PoC) in the school and therefore used by the establishment as proof that the school has left its racist roots behind.

The achievements of Lily and Mateo are often put down to 'affirmative action' - despite how hard they work, they can never get full credit for what they've done; and this, understandably, makes Lily in particular pretty damned angry.

The way Talley deals with these issues is truly skilful. She neither belittles them, nor makes them the central point of the book. They are an aspect of a complex plot filled with complex characters.

Honestly, there's so many excellent points that I could make about this book that I couldn't possibly get to them all. You'll have to read it to find out ;)





Not so great bits:

Personally, I would've loved an expansion on some parts of this book.

What is up with minor characters Austin and Felicia, who clearly know a hell of lot more than they should? Why is the dining room such a focal point for the spirits? Is the woman really La Llorona, like Mateo thinks? I NEED MORE!

It would've also been a plus to up the exploration of the Brandon/Mateo and Lily/Maria relationships.

I felt like there was so much more space for development there, and was left slightly unsatisfied when this aspect didn't fulfil its potential.

I also found the ending slightly underwhelming. There was nothing wrong with it - I just felt like it needed more POW!









('POW!' is now officially a technical term. I've decided.)

There're some issues in this book that people may have trouble with, including (but not limited to,) - death, ghosts, homophobia, self-harm, suicide, drugs, and a disturbing lack of interest by the authorities in what is happening at this school.

I didn't notice any swearing, but the odd word might've snuck in there.

There's a lot of violence, blood, gore, and references to the sexy times.

If you don't like ghosts or horror, then maybe try a different book. ;)







Verdict:


Well-written diverse YA horror with complex themes and characters!!!!!!!!

Book, will you marry me? ;)






Update 27th Jan 2017 - In the interest of fairness and openness, here is a Goodreads review from a reviewer who had a lot of problems with the representation of various people in this book.




Buy Now UKBuy Now USAGoodreadsAuthor's Site





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6 comments:

  1. I've been seeing this book everywhere lately having not heard of it before. I'm not really huge into horror/ghost stories, but I'm all about diverse book so maybe I'll give this a go?

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    Replies
    1. I'm thinking you'd probably enjoy the Macbeth references. But there's a lot of ghostly goings-on, I have to say. Still, you can give it a shot! You just might have a great surprise ;)

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  2. OMG this book looks right up my alley! I loved Macbeth and I love diverse characters, what else could you ask for really?

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  3. I've been seeing a lot of hype around this book, and seeing as it is a Shakespeare retelling it made me even more eager to read it! This is one I have so I'm really looking forward to reading it. And I especially love the cover and the sound of this one being well written and believable. Maybe a bit of expansion in places but otherwise really good :D

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    Replies
    1. I personally loved it! Yes, I would've been over the moon for certain bits n pieces to be expanded on, but overall? This was a great book! :)

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