Note: I was originally just going to put this in my mini reviews wrap-up post, but after about 50 pages, I realized I needed a lot more room to talk about this, so I’ve decided to post separately about it. Thus, this review unfolds in real-time of me reading this book, so it’ll swerve sometimes, but it is also coherent. Also, it contains spoilers.
Okay. Before I even start 27 Hours, and this’ll show up in my wrap-up tomorrow, I’m linking Aimal’s review on Goodreads (not her WordPress because wow holy shit that professor is an asshole if they think they can just do that) and Chiara’s (because she does a fabulous job of putting into words what I’m having trouble doing with a single quote:
we should not prioritise one marginalised community over another. We should not ignore harmful aspects in books just because we’ve found positives in that same text.Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity
I also want to quickly talk about my history with this book.
I purchased it in December 2018 having had no idea whatsoever about what was going on with the author. I live under a rock, guys. I never see any drama as it’s unfolding. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have picked this up. I went to read it a few months ago, and I looked at the Goodreads reviews as one does, and there it all was. I put it back on my shelf unsure if I really wanted to read it, and now I’m finally come to a decision. I thought about just taking this off my shelf and never reading it. A friend suggested that I read it and not post a review of it. Both of those are pretty blatant white privilege to me, so I feel like the only way to do this justice is to be honest about it.
We’re trying to be better, right? As humans, readers, writers, what-have-you, I think, for the most part, we’re trying to be better. And that means not simply ignoring this book. If I just donate it somewhere or not post a review for it, that’s because I am white and I have that privilege. It’s because I’m not marginalized and I’m not affected by the harmful aspects of this book, and I have that privilege based on the color of my skin. And as a white person, if I just totally ignore my own privilege, that’s harmful. If I don’t review it because parts of it have made me or others uncomfortable, that’s because I’m privileged in a way that means I can do that. And that’s not okay.
Thus, I will not just mark it as read and not post a review. I will not just quietly shelve it away somewhere and never read it. I bought it, and that’s on me for not knowing what was going on in the community, But I do own it, and instead of foisting it on some unsuspecting person in a donation bin, I’m going to do my best to be better and to understand why this book is harmful. That being said, let’s dive in.
I’ve seen in a few reviews that there’s only one human character with a POV chapter that sympathizes with the chimera, but I haven’t seen anyone point out the fact that Jude basically fits the Aryan ideal? Um? So are we going to add anti-semitic to the list of issues with this book? Because that’s a whole other ballgame I didn’t come prepared for. Like, having a white person be the only person to peacefully coexist with the indigenous people of the moon is already a bad idea, but also making them look Aryan? Wow, okay.
I don’t even know where to begin with that.
I’m about 50 pages in, and I’m having very conflicting emotions. Because it’s well-written, I’m invested in the story, I like the characters, and I am here for the queer rep. I am a space nerd to my very core. But I’m only about 50 pages in, and even if several someones hadn’t pointed out the inherent issues in this book, they’re blatantly obvious. And maybe it’s because I’m so used to the word chimera from Laini Taylor’s Smoke & Bone trilogy, a trilogy in which both angels, humans, AND chimera were all given POVs, but right away the gargoyle slur really bothered me. Because do you know what a chimera is? At its very basic meaning? Take away the Greek mythology, and it is “an unrealizable dream.” The sentence used by Merriam-Webster is “His utopia was a chimera.” Chimera is an impossibility. A dream. A dream so impossible and so vast that it describes things like utopia. An impossible dream.
Now, where have you heard that kind of language before?
Alongside the word hope.
So, we’ve given a word that usually appears alongside hope a slur that only people of color use and that only white people sympathize with. Yikes.
Only a few pages later:
If it weren’t for the gargoyles, Sahara would be a utopia.pg 48
Ironic, since they were at war with one of the indigenous species.
Wright unironically wrote that line into her book. Wow, shit. This is anti-semitic to boot.
I keep opening my book back up and rereading those lines and, like?
Someone actually wrote those lines. Unironically. Like, she wrote them. And she didn’t immediately have red flags going up. She wrote those lines and called it ironic that a place was a war zone because colonizers were at war with the indigenous species. She didn’t see ANYTHING WRONG with those lines.
Not only that, but she chose a disabled character to deliver those lines. Do you know that they used to segregate deaf children simply because they were different? That people refused to learn sign language for the same reason they yell at POC to learn English? That people considered those who were deaf as lesser than them? Not to mention the amount of abuse and bullying deaf people have withstood. Like. This is right up there with making all of your POC characters think colonization and killing indigenous people is okay.
AND THEN USED HER DISABILITY AS AN EXCUSE TO STARE AT HER CRUSH
this is a fucking trash fire and a half
I’m sorry. I really tried not to go off about this because so many people had already made really eloquent statements about this book, but this touches a very deep nerve with me. I cannot wholly relate to the issues a lot of people have had with this book because I’m white, and based purely on that, there’s no way I’ll ever truly understand why this is so harmful. And while I am also not disabled, I work with disabled children, and this is abusive language.
Besides, this way she could spend her time staring at Dahlia with her friend being none the wiser.pg 50
And hey, it’s cool, let’s just drop some sex talk around the ace kid as soon as he’s introduced because that’s definitely not awkward and pigeonholing his character to be nothing more than his orientation.
In other reviews, I’ve seen people talking about how they just can’t empathize with the characters, and it’s lines like these that make me agree.
But the children of the Saharan moon were born with guns in their hands.
Maybe he was tired of it. Tired down to his bones.
Like bro, I do not care if you’re tired. This is 100% your fault. Do you think the indigenous people that you’ve massacred aren’t tired of defending their home that YOU stole? I just have no empathy, whatsoever, with righteous people like this, who decide that a thing is theirs because they’re the “better” species. Fuck. You.
I’d also like to interrupt this review, which is starting to turn into a rant, to point your direction to a space opera book that has POC rep and actually discusses racism without being racist. Seriously, it’s what 27 Hours wanted to be, but actually did it well.
I’ve linked my review for Empress of a Thousand Skies and Blood of a Thousand Stars, both by Rhoda Belleza, and if 27 Hours made you upset about the state of humanity, this duology will hopefully restore it a little.
Annnnnd, we’re back.
You know what’s even worse than all of this combined? When the white guy (who looks Aryan) describes to one of the POC characters what racism is. Let that sink in a little. Wright has given us this world where racism based on skin color doesn’t exist, but racism based on species does. Now, this might be plausible if this book wasn’t pitched as futuristic reality. It’s only roughly 200 years in the future of an Earth that is, based on context clues, the very Earth we’re living on now. So, you want me to believe that centuries of systemic racism just evaporated in 200 years? When we haven’t even kind of gotten over it in 2019? Oh boy, have we got another thing coming here.
Now, not only is this utopian idea just so completely far-fetched, you’re also telling me that centuries of systemic racism have been so completely erased in only 200 years that people of color have forgotten what racism was in the first place?
What the fuck?
This author literally had a WHITE character EXPLAIN RACISM to a PERSON OF COLOR.
I’m going to keep coming back to the anti-semitism, too, because it’s absolutely blowing my mind. Because not only did a white character explain racism to a person of color, but a character that resembles Aryan ideals explained to a person of color why his ideology was wrong. Jude very specifically uses the word ideology, too, when talking about why he wants to convince Rumor that he’s wrong. Like, what kind of backward game are you trying to play?
Scratch that, TWO white people explain racism to a person of color. Although Braeden’s not really explaining racism, he’s discussing with Rumor why he thinks the “kill first, ask questions later” ideal is outdated and doesn’t sit right. But still. I wasn’t planning on touching on the racism and colonization that much because so many people have done it better than me (and also not given up and just started swearing), but wow, this is so much worse than I could have possibly imagined.
And the worst part? Everything else is so damn well written. Tristina Wright created an interesting plot, wrote it fantastically, and littered it with intriguing characters. As my friend said tonight, “You’re going to keep reading it because you like it, but you’re mad about it.” YEAH.
Okay, so ^^^ that paragraph was written on Friday. It’s now Sunday, and I’m finishing up the last 150 pages of this book, and that paragraph no longer holds true. This is not well written. I read in someone’s review somewhere that the romance is completely out of control, and it is. Literally every single chapter is just horny teenagers being distracted from the literal war they’re fighting by constant thoughts of wanting to bang each other. Even the ace character is noticing how everyone wants to bang each other and how much he likes one of the rebels. Not like likes, just likes, but still. God, it’s literally the most annoying thing ever. I feel like I’m reading Twilight in space.
Even aside from the gross, overdone, obnoxious romances, the writing is just not great. There’s this scene where one of the characters is looking around at all of the destruction in a city, and then the next sentence something explodes.
She couldn’t imagine.pg 332
The world grew bright and hot.
There are no transitions whatsoever at any time. We jump from one thing to the next with nothing in between, and oftentimes I’m left scrambling like wait what is going on because the author is expecting me to use context clues when there are no goddamn context clues.
There is seriously nothing I like about this book anymore. It’s racist. It’s abusive toward its disabled characters. It’s anti-semitic. It’s poorly written. And it’s a damn shame because this could have been so important.
Also, what the hell with the cheekbones tingling? Is that a thing? Do people’s cheekbones tingle when they’re in shock or mad or upset or whatever bad emotion happens to come up? It’s the weirdest description I’ve ever heard, and I hate it. Like, what? Cheekbones? Tingling?
And lastly, since I just finished up, what the hell was with the plot? Halfway through the book, suddenly Reaper was after Rumor with absolutely nothing to indicate that previously and nothing to make that make sense. Things just cropped up that were suddenly expected to be believed. There was no explanation for anything toward the end. If this book wasn’t a trash fire to begin with, it certainly is by the end.
I’m giving it one stars because it was shitty all around and this whole review basically boils down to the title of this post: YIKES.
What a waste of time.