Thursday, February 1, 2018

Trans Liberty Riot Brigade by L.M. Pierce

I really wanted to like Trans Liberty Riot Brigade, but I think I am entirely the wrong reader for it. I will not belabor the point, but there were several issues for me.

One, the entire book is written in a made-up language/dialect that I struggled with. It is hard to immerse yourself in a story when you are struggling to figure out what somebody just said. I thought it would get easier, but there were some characters I simply found incomprehensible. All the credit in the world to L.M. Pierce for the imagination and literary skill invested in the telling, but I do not want to work that hard to decipher a story.

Two, this is a book that is so consumed with drug abuse that it almost becomes more about drugs than gender. I do not want to read about how characters get their drugs, how those drugs make them feel, or how they struggle with coming down or withdrawal. Again, I think Pierce conveyed that aspect of their lifestyle incredibly well, but it is something I have zero interest in and cannot tolerate when it is so prevalent/predominant.

Three, this is a dirty story. I am not talking dirty in the sense of erotic or pornographic, but in the literal sense of dirt and filth and decay. It made me itchy to read. Seriously, I came away from each chapter wanting a shower and a delousing. I know it is a reality for homeless youth, and I know it feeds the drug abuse culture that bothered me so, but I look to escape into science fiction and fantasy - I do not want to feel a panicked urge to escape from it.

Finally, and this was the breaking point for me, I had no empathy and no connection to any of the characters. I desperately wanted to find one that I could love and/or admire, just one that made me feel compelled to follow their journey and see how (or if) they came out of it, but I was unable to make that connection. The characters will reasonably well-drawn, each with their own personality, but that alone does not make them relateable.

I am sure other readers will say that I missed the point. They will insist that this is an allegory for the suffering of homeless youth, and for the oppression of the transgender community. They are absolutely right. I do not deny that, and I do not want to take away from the important story Pierce has told here. None of that changes my enjoyment of the story, however, and the simply truth is that what I might endure in non-fiction is very different from what I am willing to suffer in fiction.
“Hey, but what if…?” Music to Lindsay’s ears. She is a graduate from The Evergreen State College and bathes in the sweet liberal waters of the Puget Sound. Or she would, if it wasn’t so polluted. She is a lover of the new and the old, of asking questions and contemplating possibilities. Lindsay’s work is primarily speculative fiction and she is an unapologetic Nerd. She lives with her husband and four fur-babies in Olympia, Washington.


No comments:

Post a Comment