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.