119 Dark Matter

darkmatterby Blake Crouch, 2016

Sliding Doors, meet quantum mechanics! 

If there’s one trope I find tiresome, it’s science-fiction that serves as a masquerade for the heteronormative love story. I’m looking at you Interstellar and Arrival and, now, Dark Matter. Now, I’m not entirely dead inside. I like a good love story on occasion – Jane Eyre is one of my most favorite books – but when I come to sci-fi, I expect it to be more than just a ruse for a man and a woman to find their happily ever after. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t like reading this book or that I didn’t find the story creative or engrossing, because I did, but if I had wanted to watch Sliding Doors, I would have watched Sliding Doors. I don’t drink my whiskey with water and I don’t need my sci-fi made palatable with romance, thank you very much.

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113 Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

aristotledanteby Benjamin Alire Sáenz, 2012

There is always the risk when reading immensely popular books of your expectations exceeding the book’s reality. I was prepared for this to be the case when I finally got around to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, a much lauded book online and on BookTube for its depiction of a relationship between two teenage boys. Young adult novels positively depicting gay relationships are still something of a novelty, so we’re in a place where most books that do this, regardless of the quality of the writing, get a pass simply because they address a subject that is marginalized and, in some cultures, taboo. In some ways I believe Aristotle and Dante is getting that pass, but I was pleased to find that, in other ways, it is wholly deserving of the attention it has received.

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85 The Wrath and the Dawn

wrathandthedawnby Renee Ahdieh, 2015

Let’s talk about abusive relationships. If someone threatens your safety or treats you poorly, it doesn’t matter what happened in their past. It doesn’t matter if they have an explanation for why they behave the way they do. It doesn’t matter if they, in fact, hate themselves for their behavior. It doesn’t even matter if you find you are attracted to them. You do not have an obligation to be with them.

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82 The Sun Is Also a Star

sunisalsoastarby Nicola Yoon, 2016

I’ve long said that it doesn’t matter what a book is about – if it’s written well, I’ll love it. Nicola Yoon proves just that within the pages of a one-day teenage romance. With a plot that I’m typically inclined to hate, she offers astute commentary on immigration, interracial relationships, nationality, and what it means to be an American. Oh, and she flips gender stereotypes on their heads. (Hooray for not all girls being helpless romantics!) I adore Yoon for showing what great work can be done inside this usually fluffy genre.

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72 Cincuenta sombras más oscuras

cincuenta-sombras-2de E.L. James, 2011

[Scroll down for the English version.]

¡Ay, que barbaridad! Escúchenme bien chicas. Si un tipo se acosa, busca su número de seguro social, encuentra su cuenta bancaria, and compra la compañía para que usted trabaja para que pueda vigilarse, esto no es amor. Es un crimen y deben ir al policía. No deben comprometerse con él. Se merecen mejor que eso.

Desgraciadamente, E.L. James cree que no.

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48 Me Before You

mebeforeyouEvery once in awhile a book becomes really popular and I am enticed to read it. My usual stance is that something so popular cannot possibly be good, but I’ve been proven wrong on several occasions. (Devil in the White City? Excellent. Parks and Rec? Hilarious and smart. Harry Potter? Quite enjoyable.) So, if you’re wondering why I, a self-described cynic with a general distaste for all things romantic, would pick up this book, curiosity would be the reason. Maybe it really will be as good as everyone says it is. (Spoiler alert: it’s not.)

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