Books I have read and reviewed by Tay LaRoi;
Her books follow lesbian main characters, I have been really impressed with her work. Her first book was the first LGBT book that I reviewed. Which is really weird considering I view myself as bi-sexual (pan-sexual, blah more labels). Soon as I finished her first book, I may or may not have fangirled a little. Then the lovely Tay LaRoi was like wanna read my second book? Sure where do I sign my soul? lol – Laura
I must have been fourteen or fifteen years old, back when I could still read in the car without getting sick. Since my nose was deep in a book, I hardly registered the car pulling up our driveway, or my mother leaving me there in the passenger seat without a word. Maybe she asked if I was coming in and then decided not to worry about my lack of response. If I was reading, I wasn’t getting in trouble, after all.
As I continued to flip the pages, I almost wished I was getting instead.
In their printed words, a teenage delinquent is pulled apart, piece by piece to be used for transplant parts. In the world of Neal Shusterman’s Unwind, the surgeons at work have to use 99.6% of him, and they do it while he’s conscious.
As the character’s narration flatlines and the chapter ends, my stomach churns and my hands shake as my mind reels at what I’ve just read, trying to process it, unable to find words for everything I’m feeling.
No one deserves that. No one.
But he was so terrible.
THAT was terrible. How can people not understand?
People hardly understand how they harm each other in everyday ways. How would they understand something like this?
How can they NOT understand?
I had to put Unwind away. My sister would listen to it as an audio book years later and never finish it after that scene. And yet, days later, questions still running through my head, haunted by it all, I had to come back. I had to read more. I had to devour every Nearl Shusterman title in the library and I’ve done my best to get my hand on every one of his books since.
I’m still not completely sure what the theme of Unwind is. A big part of it is the question of what changes first when cultures change. Does the legality of certain actions give way to their moral acceptance, or does a cultural shift in morality lead to the rewriting of laws? Which should come first? After ten years, I’m still not sure what that answer is. I don’t think I’ll ever find it, but the series has still stayed with me after all these years because of the lessons and questions it presented.
I think it’s pretty safe to say we all want our books to linger with people. We want them to stay around for as long as possible and, while plots, characters and twists can do it plenty well, it feels like interjecting themes and questions is often a last resort, something reserved for high school English classes and late night college dorm room debates rather than fiction for the masses.
We all have beliefs, though. Too often it feels like those beliefs are left out of our works. Our minds hold thousands of philosophies and theories that guide us in everything we do. They tell us everything from how we greet strangers, to who we spend our lives with, yet I’ve read so many books lacking any sort of insight into how the writer actually sees the world around them.
We each have a lens through which we see the world. It’s common knowledge that no two are the same, yet we put all our time, effort, and carpel-tunnel-inducing typing into how we want to tell our stories with little attention paid to what we want to fill them with.
And the things that we fill them with are what linger with people the most.
Romances are great, but a mere happy ending isn’t that memorable. A couple that defies all cultural expectations and finds happiness instead of tragedy is. The idea that such a thing is possible carries weight.
I adore fantasy, but a writer who believes anyone can overcome their fears and be a hero will hold my attention longer than their worlds alone. Worlds alone do not challenge people to push themselves.
Sci-fi is fascinating. My favorites hold very real questions for our current world. Ones that merely want to show me the stars are quickly forgotten. Anyone can show someone the stars. It takes you alone to tell the world how much hope or danger they hold for humanity
Of course, these are not the end all themes. Far from it. Anyone reading this could build on them or bring something completely new to the conversation. In fact, I want you too. Know what you believe. Know why you believe it and why it makes the world make sense.
Then bring a piece of it to your work and set it alight for the world to see.
Tay LaRoi Twitter