Deviations – Anma Natsu Review

Not all love triangles require choosing between two sides…

For seventeen-year-old Miho, the long war with her own mind is becoming too much to bear. Between the unending nightmares, PTSD, depression, and isolation, the mental skirmishes never end. Those sweet whispers of the dark wisps promise freedom from the pain, and it’s getting harder to say no.

When she witnesses a tragic accident, she catches the interest of her classmates Taka and Shinji, two boys with reputations for being casual playboys. But they let Miho see what no one else bothers to notice, like the regular abuse Shinji hides behind a sweet smile and easy-going laugh and Taka’s barely leashed rage and frustration over his inability to protect his best friend or even control his own destiny.

What starts as a hesitant friendship becomes a deep connection the three can’t ignore, but do they dare dream of happiness when the world around them seems bent on destroying them?

Why did I pick this up?: Mental health representation, positive representation of alternative relationships? Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it?

Good points: I really, honestly and truly loved this book at first. The characters are well-written, there’s some great mental health rep, and I could see this really beautiful relationship forming between the characters that kept me wanting to read on. I even spoke about it to friends when I was about half-way through to say how awesome it was and how excited I was to see polyamory representation.

Quibbles: Here’s where I start worrying. The moment I realise the title, ‘deviations’ is not just a casual title but a name that the characters refer to themselves as (‘deviants’), and a theme throughout the second half of the book. I won’t give away any details but I do like how it ended, I just… that word makes me really uncomfortable. Polyamory isn’t ‘deviant’. It’s just a relationship like any other. And for someone who, as far as I know is neither Japanese nor necessarily polyamorous to write about polyamory in Japanese society… it’s very difficult not to trip up. And I think calling polyamorous people ‘deviants’, no matter how it’s done, is a way of doing that. I also found that there were some very graphic sex scenes later on that may not be a turn off for some, but are for me! Not to mention some scenes that talked about the guys wanting to ‘force themselves’ on Miho, something I am SUPER uncomfortable with.

Overview (TL;DR): The book is really well written, but made me uncomfortable because the otherwise good representation was made darker by characters references to themselves as ‘deviant’ and some very sexual scenes.

-K Hart

Breaking Glass – Lisa Amowitz Review

Current Review:

I had to talk about this. I ended up purchasing a few of Lisa’s books because having spoken to her, she is wonderfully weird and that sounded like just the sort of writing I needed in my life. Breaking Glass was simply the first that arrived.

Cynical protagonist? Check. Dark subject matter? Check. Immediately we have a few very good reasons to read this. Even more so, give me some beautiful use of language (my favourite: ‘panicked glimpses of my waking nightmare crashing through the floodgates’) and more secrets than you can shake a stick at. I don’t want to give too much away, because I feel like people should really read this book as I did, with only a little idea of what to expect, but if you like your contemporary fiction served up with a side of ‘what the hell’, Lisa is your writer.

Jeremy is a young alcoholic with enough shame trapped in his chest to fuel a small power plant. When his car crashes and the girl he is in love with disappears, he is thrown into a web of unravelling secrets. Not limited to the messages he seems to be receiving from beyond the grave.

So, take a look, perhaps. Go on. It won’t hurt you.

-K Hart