Genre: LGBT (m/m, ace character, aroace character), Romance
Cover: Typical Manga Look.
Trigger warnings: Bullying, Sexual Harrassment, bad ace rep (maybe more)
Description: A single stroke can change your world.
Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.
Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.
Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.
Review: I don’t even know what’s the worst part of this book. It’s horrible.
I’ll try to make sense of my notes for you, but summing it up: NO! You could stare for an hour into nothing and you would get more than from reading this book.
Sounds mean? Maybe. But this book is not only badly written, it makes a fetish of Japan and the so-called asexuality representation is plain harmful. So imagine how affected readers will feel with being portrayed this way. It’s more than ‘mean’.
So where to start… I really don’t know where to start so I’ll try to go chronologically through my notes. There is a slight spoiler but I feel it’s very important to know about this. I will mark it though, so you can decide for yourself.
So. First thing I wrote down: Antisocial states that it’s unusual and totally a Japanese/Manga/Anime thing for high schoolers to be without their parents. Have you read english YA? How often are there parents present? There are so few where the parents have a role in a story that I tell you about this in my reviews. Maybe that’ll give you a hint that it is not a Japanese thing.
Japan itself is so fetishezed in this book it’s not even funny anymore. Everything is Japanese but the people. There is not one character who is Japanese. Or Half. Or a quarter. No, that’s not true. There is one, but he is dead and has been way before this story started.
Okay, I can get being interested in Japanese Culture. Being a teen it may be understandable to fetishize it a little. But it’s still not right. Having an adult author be that way? Not cool.
I mean, one of the characters speaks like maybe 3 Japanese sentences. He uses it for sex talk. If my better half spoke in their mother tongue to me, yes totally okay for sex talk. Using a language you don’t even speak? Not okay!
There could be said way more about that Japan Fetish but I want to talk about something that’s very dear to me.
The ace rep. Or the NOT ace rep. I do not accept anything I have read in this book as ace rep. If you want to read about ace spectrum characters DO NOT READ THIS BOOK! DON’T DO IT! Says the ace spectrum reviewer. Or screams at you. Whatever you prefer.
First it states that all men are sexual beings. Wrong?! And even an allosexual man does not think about sex 24/7?
And then the allosexual character is portrayed as a saviour for accepting the other character’s kinda maybe asexuality. The allo one knows this before the person themselves btw. But okay. Maybe. Sounds totally unrealistic to me, because I suspected it myself even though I didn’t know the actual word or that it is a possibility and I kinda thought everyone felt this way and I therefore was always very confused when people were like “I’d fuck that” without knowing the ‘that’. But enough about this. Because I could go on for hours and I maybe will but not here and not now.
Before I read Antisocial I read an article by Heidi Cullinan in which she talked about being not ace but having a low libido or something. I have forgotten the actual details. Or rather I made me forget about it. Anyway, having this article in the back of my mind and reading this book? Tainted the book even more for me. But it would have been bad either way.
I was very pissed that the aroace side character – someone who knows how it is to be stereotyped – stereotypes all fraternity guys. Because you can’t be in a relationship with them. They are all the same! Sure.
I HATE THIS BOOK WITH THE WHOLE OF MY HEART AND SOUL AND BODY AND EVERY LAST DROP OF ACENESS IN ME!
How about having sensitivity readers? Huh?! Have people who know the stuff read over your “Hm, I think that could be the way it is”?! I would have done it for free fucking hell!
Okay, calming down. Or trying to. Give me a minute. Or an hour, I don’t know.
Those things alone were dnf worthy and I thought about dnfing so many times… But then there was a certain scene. And it reminded me of something from my past that I thought I was kinda okay about but apparently not.
SPOILER HERE with explicit language
One of the characters is in a fraternity and the new maybe members are at a party with everyone when one person is like “you have to blow our guys here and the first to make his finish gets to fuck a prostitute!”
And I was like “I’M OUTTA HERE!”
Disclaimer: I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.