by Juztin Bello, Rodolfo Boskovic, Nicole Magas, Lubaba Mahmud, Zoe Vedova
Book: Hero by Perry Moore
Submitted by: Juztin Bello, Copy Editor
Alright, picture this: Marvel, but gay.
This winning combination of superheroes and homosexuality makes Perry Moore’s Hero a top-tier book. For anyone interested in a book that features misfits coming together, wholesome lessons in acceptance, genuinely shocking plot twists, and a healthy helping of gayness, this book is the one for you. The story follows Thom Creed as he traverses hiding both his newfound superpowers and his sexuality from his homophobic and disgraced ex-superhero dad.
As a gay man and literature loser, there was a point in my life where I began seeking out novels that prominently featured gay characters — perhaps to compensate for the lack of gay books while growing up and in the closet. Being one of the first books I discovered to feature a homosexual protagonist who can also heal people, I fell in love with this book immediately. What’s great about Hero is that it balances entertainment and action (using fight scenes and superhero lore) with thought-provoking narratives on coming out, not fitting in, and working through strained personal relationships. Of these narratives, I think the most interesting to watch develop is the relationship between Thom and his dad — particularly, the anxiety Thom experiences over his secrets and the one he thinks is more necessary to hide.
Also, there’s a scene where Thom masturbates to a photo of his favourite superhero and fails to delete his search history after he panics when his dad unexpectedly comes home — it’s probably one of the most relatable in-the-closet moments I’ve ever read.
Book: Pronto by Elmore Leonard
Submitted by: Rodolfo Boskovic, Peak Associate
If you’ve read or watched Elmore Leonard’s Get Shorty and Be Cool, then you know what you’re in for with this one. When 66-year-old Miami bookmaker Harry Arno is caught in the crosshairs of both the cops and his mob boss, Harry uses all the money he skimmed over the years to disappear.
Pronto is filled with cool, slick-talking characters which are Leonard’s bread and butter. Characters walk the fine line between camp and fresh, while the plot follows a fast-paced chase that travels from Miami to Italy.
What really stands out about this book is just how digestible it can be. Even when nothing is really happening, the dialogue feels like a game of tennis with clever one-liners bouncing back and forth. If you’re into crime novels with interesting characters, or if you just want a brain break from complicated university terminology, give Pronto a whirl.
Book: The Black Prism by Brent Weeks
Submitted by: Nicole Magas, Opinions Editor
I am a huge nerd for fantasy novels and have been for most of my life. For me, a good fantasy is one that keeps me reading until 3 a.m. at least. And boy, does The Black Prism ever deliver on that promise.
The Black Prism is the first (and arguably best) book in a five-part series of which the final book just released last year. It’s part of a sub-genre I like to call “charismatic boys behaving badly” (those familiar with the Gentleman Bastards series will know what I’m talking about). If you love character-driven fantasy with a vividly descriptive world, and an impeccably well-thought out magic system, then this is the fantasy series for you. The Black Prism sets all this up in a delightful way with moments of both humour and gravitas. It presents characters a reader can grow to love and care about over the several thousand pages of the series. And lets not forget that twist in the middle!
A word of warning though: this isn’t a series without its flaws. While Weeks crafts a beautiful work of fantasy fiction here, it’s full of plot holes and inconsistencies. I would caution that this is a book best read by people who love to fall in love with characters, not those who require their fantasy to be air-tight.
Book: Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Submitted by: Lubaba Mahmud, Staff Writer
I remember snuggling up with the book Tell The Wolves I’m Home on a rainy afternoon a few years ago. I was enchanted by the author’s poignant storytelling and absolutely devoured this book. It somehow left me devastated in a beautiful way — after all, what good are stories if they don’t shatter your heart in some way?
Tell The Wolves I’m Home follows fourteen-year-old June Elbus, who feels alone in the world after her best friend and uncle, Finn, dies of AIDS in New York in the 1980s. She soon discovers that her uncle was gay and had a secret partner, Toby, who his family didn’t approve off. But after his death, June and Toby form an unlikely friendship as they reminisce about the wonderful man and artist that Finn was.
The novel tackled the very important subject of the AIDS epidemic and the stigma that gay men faced in the 1980s with grace and empathy. Brunt’s deeply moving novel is about complex relationships and the undeniable pull of family, whether it is biological or chosen.
The richly-layered story and heart-wrenching portrayal of relationships made this one of my favourite reads. I love seeing unlikely friendships come to life. I also find it very interesting when a story has an artist as its central character. In this story, for example, Finn’s paintings were a central component of the plot. The book had some great details thrown in, which are open-ended so that readers can come up with their own explanation for some events. What’s more, as an extra treat, readers uncover the deep meaning behind the title once they finish the story.
Tell The Wolves I’m Home is a very emotional story full of wonderful characters. Make sure to pick this one up if you like to cry over books like I do.
Book: Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater
Submitted by: Zoe Vedova, Peak Associate
There is nothing more dangerous than dreaming for Ronan Lynch. He has had the powerful, disastrous ability to bring objects out of his dreams since he was a child, and he’s about to find out he’s not the only one with this power.
Call Down the Hawk is the first installment of Maggie Stiefvater’s new Dreamer trilogy. Although it continues with characters from her previous series, The Raven Cycle, this book is part of a stand-alone trilogy. Stiefvater’s writing is sharp, the stakes are high, and every moment of fantastical magic is met with real-world consequences. The novel is also filled with explicitly gay characters, although it doesn’t have quite as much explicitly queer content as I’d hoped. That being said, there is a substantial word count given to describing a moody, goth farmer which is gay content in and of itself.
If you mourn your lost ability to voraciously tear through novels because you’re constantly dragging yourself through academic readings, treat yourself to this YA book. Call Down the Hawk will give your brain that jumpstart you deserve.