Loveless by Alice Oseman | Drumsofautumn Review

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Before I go into any of this review, let me say that I am very aware that this book has made so many people feel incredibly seen, for many for the first time, and I am so very happy about that. But I want to share my personal experience and perspective as honestly as possible and I do not like to hold back when I think something is genuinely doing more harm than good. I not only found many things portrayed in it not well represented whatsoever but this book was really hurtful to me personally in the way that it portrayed one experience as THE aromantic asexual experience. And I hope that this community can respect my opinion without me disclosing my own orientation.
Also this will have mild spoilers, so I can actually go into detail.

Loveless tried to do a lot of good but ended up just being harmful, hurtful and offensive, invalidating literally everyone that doesn’t have the exact same experience as the main character.

This is one of those books that shows that ownvoices does not necessarily mean a book can do no harm or has perfect representation. This book would’ve immensely benefited from having sensitivity readers for the other identities portrayed AND for the aroace representation too, especially as aromantic and asexual is such a huge spectrum.

I think that a lot of the questionable things in this book could’ve been avoided by having gone through a sensitivity read by someone who, for example, is asexual but not sex-repulsed.

And by that I do not mean that this book needed to be relatable to everybody on the aroace spectrum but the least it could’ve done is make more of an effort to explain the differences and not invalidate everybody who is anywhere else on the spectrum. This identity gets explained literally once and when the main character, Georgia, actually does some research herself, she quickly logs off because she finds it too overwhelming. And while that is valid, is it just not enough for a book like this.

Georgia is clearly sex-repulsed but the word does not get used on-page ONCE and I just think that this is a problem. A sex-repulsed experience exists but it is not THE aroace experience, even tough this book sadly ends up portraying it like that.

And I get that this is a story focused on figuring your sexuality out but it really took 45% for us to get to that ONE explanation of what asexual and aromantic means. Basically no one had ever heard of this term before, except Georgia, who didn’t know what it was, even though she clearly spends a lot of time on the internet (and NOT the straight corners of it). It quite frankly seemed very convenient but made all of this unbelievable.
And what would’ve been so wrong with the character understanding these words earlier in the story but still coming to terms with the fact that that is how she feels and identifies? Instead we have to go through this character bulldozing her way through literally everybody else’s feelings, experiences and identities in order to figure this out.

But this book does not only have an aroace coming out story. It also has the storyline of Rooney, Georgia’s roommate, who she becomes friends with very quickly, figuring out she is pansexual. And we get so little pansexual representation in books, that it’s especially harmful when the little rep we do have perpetuates a harmful stereotype like it does in this case.

This character is portrayed as someone who seems very sex positive but throughout this book we find out that she basically only slept with people as a coping mechanism for her feelings and emotions that she doesn’t want to deal with. And I am not saying that this experience can’t be valid but, first of all, this book really needed this perspective of sex being something that many people do enjoy and can do without any commitment, and, again, all of this just perpetuated an already harmful stereotype without ever talking about it.

And with an identity that is so little represented, when you want to feature a full coming out story of a character (even if it is a side-character), you need to do a better job at explaining what pansexuality actually means, ESPECIALLY if you also constantly put pan and bi in the same bracket. We never once got an explanation of what pansexuality actually means or what the difference between bi and pan is. Quote: “She said she just doesn’t think she really has a gender preference and that felt like the right word for her!!!!” That is not enough if you feature a pansexual coming-out story so prominently.

And do not even get me started on when Georgia said “stop erasing my identity” in a conversation with Rooney about falling in love, when she could’ve brought up a very legit discussion on aromanticism or the difference between romantic and sexual attraction to her. Instead, she treats Rooney in the dismissive way she was so tired of being treated by everyone else.

I even would’ve found it completely valid to have this portrayed as an experience that is realizing “oh wait, this is not how everybody else feels?” instead of a “finding people you relate to”-experience, but the main character’s thoughts towards everybody else were constantly shaming them. It is okay to be sex-repulsed but you can’t place that on everyone else when sex is such a natural part of many people’s lives and something that they enjoy.

You cannot yell at and shame your friend, who you know has a lot of sex and just shared personal things with you, like what gender she fantasizes having sex with while she masturbates. Quote: “‘This has to be a fucking joke,’ I blurted. Rooney paused. ‘What?’ I sat up, pushing the covers off my body. ‘Everyone has to be fucking JOKING.’ ‘What d’you–’ ‘People are really out there just … thinking about having sex all the time and they can’t even help it?’ I spluttered. ‘People have dreams about it because they want it that much? How the–I’m losing it. I thought all the movies were exaggerating, but you’re all really out there just craving genitals and embarrassment. This has to be some kind of huge joke.’”

Also I wonder how a book that focuses so heavily on sexuality, has a super prominent non-binary side character AND a character that comes out as pansexual, could still READ SO BINARY! No one ever ACTUALLY acknowledged the existence of there being more than two genders.

And the fact that Sunil, the one non-binary character, wears a pin that says “he/they” but never once gets addressed with they/them pronouns, not even by their BEST FRIEND, is on another level too. Why introduce them using they/them pronouns when you are not going to use it? Genuinely makes me wonder who edited this book too.

There is a lot to say on how the people of colour get treated in this book as well. Like for example the way that Sunil, who is Indian, is only there to do all kinds of (emotional) labour for the main character. Or how Goergia’s best friend, Pip, who is Latinx, is portrayed like a stereotype. Or how terribly Georgia treats her throughout this entire book. Or how she says “I would choose to be gay” to her face after they just had a talk about how it hasn’t been easy for Pip to be a Latina and lesbian.. seriously, I could go on and on and on. I would encourage you all to check out Maëlys’s review, if you haven’t already, because she talks about this (and many other things too) in great detail.

And while the book definitely tried to put out the message that platonic love can be just as or even more valuable than romantic love, it just missed the mark. This is a message that I always find so important and absolutely love seeing portrayed in books but here it was almost like Georgia felt superior and like she was the only who could truly and fully love someone platonically because she would never develop romantic feelings or sexual attraction.

This book could’ve used this opportunity to talk about the existence of platonic relationships and how there are people who live as non-romantic couples.. instead it just ended in this weird triangle situation with Georgia, Rooney and Pip, introducing no boundaries whatsoever, and I cannot even get into the mess that all of that was.
And the fact that Rooney having been in a toxic relationship is getting used as an opportunity to say that platonic relationships are better than romantic relationships, is something I can’t even begin to unpack either.

I could write many more paragraphs for many more hours on this book, for example about the time when Georgia just picks up her roommate’s phone without her consent and the roommate is just like “okay no prob”. Or when the lesbian character is the one who says “how do you know you won’t find someone one day?”, so Georgia gets to be the one to say “how would you feel if I said this towards you” and on and on and on.

I’m not saying characters can’t be flawed or unlikeable or fuck up. But this book is one big fuck-up. From the way Georgia behaves and treats other people to the things that this book portrays and talks about in general. Considering all the things that this main character says and does and thinks throughout this book, there is just not enough repercussions for it. There is not enough people calling Georgia and her bulldozing behaviour out and it is not okay.

At the end of the day, despite knowing how many people saw themselves in this book and the main character’s experience, I simply cannot recommend this book whatsoever. A book that shames and invalidates everybody else’s experiences to further a main character’s journey is just not a good book.

If you’re looking for something else to read instead, I highly recommend Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman for a book with amazing aroace questioning rep without invalidating anybody else!

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✨ Lea posts a review on Meltotheany every Friday! Read more of her reviews HERE! ✨

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

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“Born to survive the storm
Born to survive the flood”

This summer I read Radio Silence by Alice Oseman and it became my favorite contemporary of all-time. I fell so in love with her writing, her characters, and her messages, that I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist picking up something else by her. And I Was Born For This was completely another win for me.

(Art by Alice!) 🌧️

We get to see six characters come together, over the course of a week:

Angel/Fereshteh Rahimi – The biggest fan of The Ark. Eighteen, Muslim, and I felt like they were on the Ace spectrum.

Jimmy Kaga – Lead singer for The Ark. Eighteen, Christian, biracial (Italian and Indian), gay, and trans. Also, Jimmy deals with a lot of anxiety and depression.

Juliet Schwartz – Eighteen and Angel’s best friend that she was introduced to on the internet and is meeting for the first time to see The Ark together.

Lister Bird – The Ark’s drummer. Eighteen, white, bi, pan or some MGA, and I believe is dealing with depression and alcohol abuse.

Bliss Lai – My biracial (Chinese and white) and bisexual queen. And she is sort of the reason Angel and Jimmy’s worlds cross.

Rowan Omondi – Lyricist and cello player for The Ark. Nineteen, Nigerian, Christian, and is secretly dating Bliss so the fandom won’t harass her.

And, as always, Alice Oseman has shined a spotlight on the importance of friendship; both on and offline. Angel is going to London to meet the band who has meant the world to her for many years now. This book is told in alternating perspectives of Angel and Jimmy and we truly get to see the difference between what the fans see and what the band feels.

This book heavily talks about the “good side” of fandoms and the “bad side” of fandoms throughout the entire story. And I’ve never really been obsessed with a “boy band” but I have for been a part of fandoms that have quite literally saved my life. Sometimes you have to put your time, energy, and passion into something other than your “real life” to feel like you belong, and that’s valid. Hell, that’s more than valid; it’s amazing. Angel for sure uses The Ark for escapism and for a sense of belonging, and we get to see the good, the bad, and all the in-between moments.

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything except The Ark.”

My biggest problem with this book though does lie with the fact that the fanbase for The Ark (Angel included) really ship Jimmy and Rowan together. And I completely understand that this is a book, but in the setting these fans are shipping real life people together, and it for sure feels like fetishizing a m/m relationship in every sense. And I know that people actually do that in 2018, but it is so gross that it honestly just made me want to take a hot shower and scrub my skin every time Angel and Juliet would talk about it.

I will also say though, the ending of this book was not satisfying for me. I mean, I couldn’t put the book down; I was so captivated and enthralled. I swear, no one writes realistic contemporaries like Alice Oseman and her stories are just so consumable. But this one just left me wanting so much more, but not in a good way. And, selfishly, without spoilers? I wanted Angel to have more confirmed friendships at the end of this book. And I just, I wanted to make sure that everyone was okay. Radio Silence feels open ended sort of, too, but the difference is that it feels satisfying. When I closed the last page of this book, I had a million more questions than the entire time while reading.

But this book, for me, really was a love letter to mental health awareness and how important it is to always put your mental health first. From anxiety, to paranoia, to depression, to just questioning your worth, you have to put yourself first. A lot of the time, people will expect to take more than you are willing to give, and this book really shines a light on the importance of learning and knowing your limits. And how it is okay to say no, or take time for yourself, especially when you are uneasy about something.

“I tend to constantly dread things, even when the ‘things’ aren’t actually dreadful.”

Overall, I still really enjoyed this. I think Alice’s books are honestly going to be classics one day. I truly feel like she captures my current life, current day, better than any author on this planet. And she puts so much in her books, from racial rep, to different religions, to sexual rep, to mental health. I would still recommend this with my entire heart, and I feel like if you have been a part of “boy band culture” you will relate even more than I did. Oh, and I was fucking living for the Joan of Arc tie-ins and mentions. Alice Oseman is a gift to the world.


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Content and trigger warnings for talk of suicide and not wanting to be alive, depression, anxiety depiction, panic attacks, talk of past forced coming out/outing, talk of past loss of a loved one, alcohol abuse, abandonment, parental abandonment, and assault (one scene where a fan performs an act of violence against a band member).

Buddy read with May at Forever and Everly & Lily at Sprinkles of Dreams! ❤

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

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“…please just call me Radio. Radio Silence. I am, after all, only a voice on a radio, and there may not be anyone listening.”

Radio Silence is the best contemporary book I’ve ever read. Full stop. So, buckle in, because this is going to be a full-gush review, because this book was everything. And holy shit did it blow all my expectations out of the water.

I normally give a brief synopsis about the book I’m reviewing here, but Radio Silence almost feels too personal for me to even type this review, to be completely honest. But this is a book about a boy and girl and the different stages of their completely platonic friendship. We get to see them bond over a fandom, and we get to see them discover who they wish they could be.

Frances – Bisexual, biracial (Ethiopian and white), head girl at her high school, and an artist.
Aled – Gay, demisexual, creator of a up-and-coming podcast and Youtube channel.
Daniel – Gay, Korean immigrant, head boy at his high school.
Carys – Lesbian, Aled’s twin sister who has been missing for a while now.
Raine – Indian, selfless angel, who is probably queer, too.

And these five characters come together in this book and create something so beautiful that I don’t even have words for it. But this book can get pretty dark in certain places, so please use caution. Trigger and content warnings for talk of mental illness, implied depression, implied suicidal thinking, parental abuse, physical abuse, extreme invasions of privacy on social media and the internet, very hateful comments to a creator on the internet, and death of a pet.

“This hardly qualifies as a distress call anymore—by gods, if anyone was listening, I would have heard from you by now.”

First off, I want to talk about how people always hail Fangirl as the book they related to going into college, but I think Radio Silence does everything Fangirl does, but a million times better and more relatable. Both of these stories are about kids going into college, unsure of what they want out of life, both feeling like outcasts that can never truly be themselves. Both of these books even focus on fandoms and hidden identities. Hell, they even break up the mainstream story with stories from the fandom they love. The parallels are endless, and I’m not here to be negative about Fangirl, but I only thought that story was okay, where Radio Silence touched my heart and spoke to my soul.

We live in a world where our society puts so much pressure on kids to go to college. And I’m going to be really real with you all for a minute. My college? My parents picked. They knew before I was born I’d go to that college. My degree? My parents picked because science degrees get you jobs. The job I currently have? Because of that degree, not because of my wishes or wants. And I’m very privileged to have the education I have had, to go the college I went to, and to have the job that I currently have. But those core parts of my life were picked for me, and they have and will continue to impact my life forever. And that’s not just a reality for me, that’s a reality for so many people I know. And I’ve never read a book that confronts that the way Radio Silence does.

Radio Silence is a book about living your life for you. It’s okay to not know what you want, or who you even are, but you have to live your life for you. Society’s expectations, your parent’s expectations, your academic leader’s expectations, all of this can feel like the weight of the world on your shoulders. And it can be so heavy. Like, I promise, it feels so heavy sometimes still. But this is a love letter about making the weight not feel so heavy. And I swear to God, I turned the last page of this book and felt lighter. I truly believe books can have healing powers, and Radio Silence healed some of my wounds that I thought stopped bleeding years ago.

“I was going to be happy. Wasn’t I? I was. Uni, job, money, happiness. That’s what you do. That’s the formula. Everyone knows that. I knew that.”

I do think that Radio Silence is a story about becoming who you want to be, even if you don’t know who that person is yet, but I also think it’s a story about living with mental illness. Obviously, I’m not going to pretend that my experience is the end all be all, but mental illnesses are something you have to live with and fight with constantly. Aled is such a realistic character, and his mental illness is something that I think is so relatable to so many younger people (I want to say millennials so badly) and this book is going to mean so much to so many people. I honestly wish I could put this book into every single high school senior’s hands. Because school isn’t for everyone, and college isn’t for everyone, but validity and acceptance are for everyone.

This book also shines a spotlight on how fucking toxic the internet, fandoms, and just human beings in general can be. The things people say to other people, especially the people they claim to idolize, not even thinking twice about how that’s another breathing, living, human being on the other side of the screen that is reading your hurtful words. You all, I could write an entire review on this part of Radio Silence alone. But instead I’m just going to encourage you to read this masterpiece of a book that realistically depicts it better than I ever could.

But my favorite thing about Radio Silence is probably how it is one, gigantic, love letter to art. All kinds of art, all mediums of art, but this book is truly a celebration of art everywhere. The world we live in constantly tells us how art should be a hobby, not a career, but when I sit back and think about the people who I admire most in the entire universe? Well, they are all artists. Instead of constantly belittling art and not encouraging ourselves to pursue it as a mainstream dream, Radio Silence comes along and makes you feel so hyped and excited to celebrate art and creators everywhere. This book is an honest to God gift to the world, I swear it.

My second favorite thing about Radio Silence was the depiction of friendships. The beautiful and light parts, the really ugly and dark parts, the comfortable parts, the hard parts, the selfish parts, the selfless parts, all the realistic parts. When I got a few percent into this book, I knew the author had to be around my age, because this book feels so real. I mean, every element of this book feels really real, but the friendship between France and Aled specifically felt really real to me. Frances and Aled’s friendship felt so much like me and a person I miss with all my heart’s friendship. But I wasn’t as good of a friend, like Frances was, but this book really made me wish that I would have been.

“People move on quicker than I can comprehend. People forget you within days, they take new pictures to put on Facebook and they don’t read your messages. They keep on moving forward and shove you to the side because you make more mistakes than you should.”

My third favorite thing about this book was Frances’ mother. Holy shit, talk about mom goals. Just thinking about how much better of a place this world would be if more parents were like Frances’! Especially when she is contrasted to Aled and Carys’ mom in this story. Unconditional love, support, and acceptance is such a powerful force, especially being wielded by a parent who has a child unsure of who they are. But that force can be just as powerful in the hands of good friends, too.

Overall, I don’t feel like I’m the same person after reading this book. And I know I will cherish it forever. This is easily the best book I’ve read for Pride this year, and easily one of the best books I’ve read in all of 2018. This book literally took a piece of my heart and I will never ask for it back. I can’t wait to read everything else that Alice Oseman creates.

“I wonder—if nobody is listening to my voice, am I making any sound at all?”

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Buddy read with Alexis at The Sloth Reader, May at Forever and Everly, & Lily at Sprinkles of Dreams! ❤