Reviews

Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories review

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Title: Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA Stories
Author(s): Michael Earp, Jax Jackie Brown, Claire G. Coleman, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen Van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde & Nevo Zisin
Format: Paperback
My rating: 4/5
Blog tour master post: https://ausyabloggers.blogspot.com/2019/05/kindred-tour.html

Synopsis: What does it mean to be queer? What does it mean to be human? In this powerful #LoveOzYA collection, twelve of Australia’s finest writers from the LGBTQ+ community explore the stories of family, friends, lovers and strangers – the connections that form us.

This inclusive and intersectional #OwnVoices anthology for teen readers features work from writers of diverse genders, sexualities and identities, including writers who identify as First Nations, people of colour or disabled. With short stories by bestsellers, award winners and newcomers to young adult fiction including Jax Jacki Brown, Claire G Coleman, Michael Earp, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde and Nevo Zisin.

This is an Australian YA anthology collection that features 12 different stories about queer people. As an Australian teen who’s queer, it means a lot to me that this even exists, and even more that it was really good. I’ll go into it more with my thoughts on each individual story but there genuinely wasn’t a single story I didn’t enjoy. My individual thoughts are as follow:

1. RATS – Marlee Jane Ward ★★★
TW: mentions of child slave labour | Rep: f/f main focus
This was a confusing way to start off the collection, but not necessarily an unpleasant one. This is a weird dystopian featuring a gang of teens and a Disaster Sapphic protagonist who is easily distracted by a pretty girl. I still don’t have a full grasp on the world and wish this was made into a full-length novel, but it was still really fun.

2. IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, BREAK GLASS – Erin Gough ★★★
Rep: questioning protagonist, f/f main focus, black side character
The first of many cute queer romcoms in this collection, this follows a girl catering a fancy party who meets a sapphic revolutionary that she might kinda sorta start having a crush on. I’m discovering that as much as I want it to Erin Gough’s writing doesn’t really work for me but this was still really fun and cute.

3. BITTER DRAUGHT – Michael Earp ★★★½
TW: loved one dying of sickness | Rep: m/m main relationship
Another one where I wish it were longer (which, honestly, is my criticism for most of the 3/3.5 stars here). This follows a boy and his boyfriend travelling to find a witch in an attempt to cure a sick family member. As I said, really my only criticism is that I wish this were longer and more fleshed out, otherwise this was really interesting and sweet.

4. I LIKE YOUR ROTATION – Jax Jacki Brown ★★★★
TW: ableism | Rep: lesbian wheelchair-using protagonist, sapphic wheelchair-using main character
There is not nearly enough disability rep in queer fiction, so I’m ridiculously happy that this anthology included an #ownvoices disability story. Another cute story featuring two girls who both use wheelchairs and are sapphic as they have to navigate a world that refuses to include them. I especially loved the commentary on how exclusionist LGBTQ+ spaces can be towards LGBTQ+ people with disabilities.

5. SWEET – Claire G. Coleman ★★★½
Rep: black non-binary protagonist, non-binary main characters
Yet another one that I wish were longer, this one is set in a world where gender basically doesn’t exist. It’s a really interesting concept that honestly I wish we saw more in fiction. I especially loved the way that this story ended.

6. LIGHT BULB – Nevo Zisin ★★★★★
TW: loss of a parent, homophobia, depression | Rep: non-binary protagonist
Oh my GOD, this was so fucking good. This story falls in line more with a horror than anything else, and is about a teen and their relationship with the dark. This one was much darker than any of the others, with them remembering a parents’ death and just the general theme of literal darkness throughout the whole story.

7. WAITING – Jen Wilde ★★★★★
Rep: autistic bisexual protagonist, gay main character, autistic chubby main character, non-binary main character
This just in, I love Jen Wilde and her work is amazing. This is a really sweet story with an #ownvoices autistic bisexual protagonist at a fandom convention, and focuses on her fraught relationship with her best friend and her meeting fellow nerds in line for the con. I loved the discussions of fandom and diversity. This was probably my favourite story of the whole collection.

8. LAURA NYRO AT THE WEDDING – Christos Tsiolkas ★★★★
TW: discussions of pedophilia, loss of a loved one | Rep: m/m main relationship
I’m a big fan of Christos Tsiolkas’ book Barracuda and this definitely didn’t disappoint. It’s about a man who is planning on marrying his boyfriend and his complicated relationship with the rest of his family, in particular his father who was convicted of sleeping with his teenage students. Honestly, my biggest criticism of this one is that it 100% was not YA, which didn’t surprise me considering that Tsiolkas is an adult fiction writer.

9. EACH CITY- Ellen van Neerven ★★★
TW: racism, transphobia, mentions of a transphobic attack | Rep: indigenous sapphic protagonist, indigenous sapphic love interest, f/f main relationship, trans asian main character, asian main characters
This one is set in a vaguely dystopian society where pretty much everyone is oppressed and focuses on an Indigenous sapphic teenager, so guess how well that goes. This is another one that I wish had been longer because it’s so interesting but definitely could have benefited from being expanded on more.

10. AN ARAB WEREWOLF IN LONDON – Omar Sakr ★★★
TW: animal death, homophobic slurs | Rep: muslim gay protagonist, muslim mlm love interest, m/m main relationship
This is probably the one I was most excited for based on the title alone. This follows a Muslim teen who has a crush on a family friend’s son while also dealing with weird shit that’s been happening. While the romance was cute, the werewolf elements were pretty lackluster. It’s barely in the story and honestly this could have just been a cut and dry romcom without the supernatural elements.

11. STORMLINES – Allison Evans ★★★
TW: injury, use of incorrect pronoun (not malicious and is corrected) | Rep: non-binary protagonist, non-binary black main character, black side characters
The penultimate story in this anthology follows a teen in a fantasy/dystopian/alternate/whatever world wherein the protagonist has to try to survive. Honestly, this is a really hard one to explain, you should just know that I really liked it but wish there was more of it.

12. QUESTIONS TO ASK STRAIGHT RELATIVES – Benjamin Law ★★★½
TW: homophobia | Rep: chinese gay protagonist, chinese lesbian main character, chinese queer characters mentioned, background m/m relationship
The final story in this collection is a non-fiction story that focuses on the way extended traditional family can react to the queer members in the family. This obviously focuses especially on Chinese families since that’s Law’s heritage, but I can definitely see this being relatable to many people who have ridiculously large traditional families. This was a really good way to finish the collection, even if it did come across as “LGBTQ+ 101”.

On the whole, this was a really fun anthology that I had a blast reading. Overall, I gave this 43.5 stars out of a possible total of 60 which, if my math is correct (there’s a very good chance it isn’t), means that this got a 72.5% AKA around a 3.5 which I’m bumping up to a 4 because I can. My favourites were definitely LIGHT BULBS and WAITING, but I genuinely enjoyed every single story in this collection and would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good collection of queer YA stories.

Review also posted to my Goodreads.

I received this for free as part of a book tour in exchange for an honest review.

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