Thursday, December 28, 2017

Bender by Alexander Rigby (#gay #lesbian #trans)

As the year comes to a close, I find myself looking back at all the stories I somehow never got to, and feeling horribly guilty about it . . . so this week I am tackling the review pile from the bottom, catching up on my oldest reads, and doing my best to celebrate them as they deserve.

Bender is a story of past lives, reincarnation, and soul mates. Alexander Rigby interweaves the stories of four different couples, stretching across past, present, and future, and taking us from Egypt, to Italy, to Pittsburgh, to Argentina.

It is hard to pick a favorite when it comes to the star-crossed couples, but the story of the Egyptian Princess and her slave was one that fascinated me. I loved the time period, I loved their romance, and I loved them as characters. The contemporary couple who meet after a car accident were cute and romantic, and the two men who dared to explore their forbidden love within the socially rigid society of ancient Florence were almost magical in their love.

It is the future story of Riley and Catherine that pulls it all together, though, with the discovery of a machine that can identify souls through time, and which leads them to explore their shared past. No matter the time, the place, the circumstances, or the gender, their love has persevered throughout the years. There are obstacles and challenges aplenty, but somehow their love finds new life with each turning of time.

Aside from the dialogue, which I felt was a little too contemporary at times, I thought Rigby did a wonderful job of capturing the characters and the different time periods. I was drawn into each, and almost sad to move on. The story that connects them all is intriguing, and the the future stakes are the highest of them all, as the shared stories build to a pulse-pounding climax.
Alexander Rigby grew up in a small town called Saegertown in Northwest Pennsylvania. During his senior year of college, he began writing his debut novel, The Second Chances of Priam Wood, which was published in March of 2013. This novel received an honorable mention in the 2013 New York Book Festival, and was recognized as a finalist in the General Fiction category of the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Contest. His second novel, What Happened to Marilyn, was published in August of 2014. A recent graduate of the NYU Summer Publishing Institute, Alexander is a Production Editor at Becker & Mayer. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the literary website, Red City Review. He loves to travel, write, and spend time with his family and friends. His third novel, Bender, was published in November of 2016. He lives in Seattle, Washington.


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