Saturday, May 9, 2015

Day 9 - Quicksilver

It's day 9! Time for a review! I'm kicking myself because I read the first in this duology years ago but somehow delayed reading this. Like an idiot. For those looking for more sci-fi in their YA and some awesome LGBTQIA+ representation, check this out.

Title: Quicksilver
Author: R.J. Anderson
Release Date: March 1, 2013
Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab

Back in her hometown, Tori Beaugrand had everything a teenage girl could want—popularity, money, beauty. But she also had a secret. A secret that could change her life in an instant, or destroy it. Now she's left everything from her old life behind, including her real name and Alison, the one friend who truly understood her. She can't escape who and what she is. But if she wants to have anything like a normal life, she has to blend in and hide her unusual... talents. Plans change when the enigmatic Sebastian Faraday reappears and gives Tori some bad news: she hasn't escaped her past. In fact, she's attracted new interest in the form of an obsessed ex-cop turned investigator for a genetics lab. She has one last shot at getting her enemies off her trail and winning the security and independence she's always longed for. But saving herself will take every ounce of Tori's incredible electronics and engineering skills—and even then, she may need to sacrifice more than she could possibly imagine if she wants to be free.

Quicksilver is intriguing, intelligent, and mysterious. Tori's waiting, waiting to have a normal life again, then waiting for the other shoe to drop. But she doesn't stand still, she takes change and does what she has to in order to save herself.

Tori is a rather interesting character. Compared to most female characters in YA, she's atypical, which is great. It makes her stand out, makes her interesting to me. The idea that girls who are considered "beautiful" or "pretty" can also be intelligent and skilled when it comes to mechanisms and technology is still something that confuses people. Which is shouldn't. Since when can't "pretty" girls be interested in makerspaces? Since when can't they want to study engineering in university? Tori is driven, foucsed, and intense. All those parts of her make her a compelling person to read about. And she's still scared about what could happen to her, scared of who might be coming for her, and that's fine. Tori's not the kind of girl who's just going to sit around. She'll try and do something about it.

Tori's asexuality is another of those rarely seen in YA topics, and it's so well-written, so well done. What Tori says to Milo about friendship is true, that "[t]here's no such thing as just a friend" (pg. 126). Sometimes it's about companionship. Sometimes we need relationships that aren't about sex or romance, that aren't filled with that kind of pressure. And sometimes, for people who are asexual, that's all there is, and they need it. Tori misses Alison like mad.

There's a mixture of contemporary and science fiction in this book. There's Tori being who she is, dealing with homework and worried parents, missing her friends, needing someone to talk to and be around. And there's Tori hiding from the relay, there's Faraday suddenly appearing in her life, there's Mathis not wanting to lose the data he's collected from Tori since she was a baby he dumped on Earth in order to experiment on. And all the Canadian references, from the food and shops to the perception of what the police can do in Canada and in the US.

I love how there's a layer in this book that challenges our perceptions of people around us based on their looks. Not every gorgeous blonde teen girl is flirty and flighty. Not every teen guy of Asian descent (Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese, etc.) is excellent at math and science. Not every teen is a mass of raging hormones ready to have their sexual awakening. Not every teen is human. The story is great, the characters are complicated, and while a small part of me wonders what would happen in a third book, the ending was solid. A must-read for those looking for something a little different, for an amazing asexual main character, and for a lot of humanity in sci-fi.

(I borrowed a copy of this book from the library.)

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