Thursday, May 14, 2009


Cycler, by Lauren McLaughlin. I feel terrible-- this is one of the books I ordered last month. It looked so good from the promo! I was hoping for a kind of examination of gender-- free of sex-- quasi-Boy2Girl kind of thing. I'm so sad! It's terrible! Now I've spent the library's money on something I can never recommend to a reader. Booklist, you've steered me wrong! I want the library's money back. I was prepared for the book to be graphic, but I think there is a difference between graphic and crude. Graphic=fine, sometimes even good, in context; crude=always a turnoff and never imaginative. I loved that Boy2Girl allowed readers to think about gender questions as free from sex (both the noun and the verb). I liked that here was a book that showed readers something beyond what other books have had: either the character is gay/bi and they struggle with that, or everyone else struggles with that; there's awkwardness and angst and that is the focus of the story. Cycler should have taken a few pages from Blacker's book. There are good elements here-- Tommy is a great character, comfortable with his sexual nature; the basic premise is a great idea; Jill/Jack's feelings for both Ramie and Tommy as s/he accesses memories and feelings from the other half verges on that discussion of gender as a continuum-- but the author didn't pursue them. The story got mired up in prom drama and accounts of Jack's neverending masturbatory sessions. This could have been so good. I've read several other reviews and such, some by pretty well-known authors and by the author herself, and I'm wondering if we're even reading the same thing. Of course, they're getting paid to sell it, and, since I don't get paid for this, you get the ugly truth. Maybe it's actually very deep and I'm too thick for it. The author says in one conversation that she didn't want Jack to be a stereotype, but with his offensive nature and complete focus on sex, how is he anything but a walking stereotype? He is exactly what teen girls think is the worst a guy can be. It would have been hard to make him worse, actually. Don't buy it.

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

This is why I try to read everything before I buy it. I think it was Black's Tithe that pushed me over the edge-- I had to send it to the high school library. And on 39 Clues: It's kind of cool that they have a bunch of authors write them. They are not great literature, but sort of fun, and the students love them. I think they are best for about 3rd or 4th graders.