Thursday, May 22, 2014

Book Review: Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

From Goodreads:
Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother's pushiness and her father's lack of interest tell her they're the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn't know the passengers inside, but they're the only people who won't judge her when she asks them her most personal questions--like what it means that she's falling in love with a girl.

As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can't share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don't even know she's there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers' lives--and her own--for the better.
There's no denying that A.S. King is a talented author.  I'd definitely include this title on a list of YA books with a literary bent.  It's much more character-driven than plot-driven, focusing on Astrid's attempts to figure out who she is and how to stand up for herself and her decisions.  I really appreciated how fully fleshed out the characters were and the way that we see some of them grow and change, while others remain stuck in their same patterns.  I also enjoyed the more fantastical elements of the story, particularly the portions where we see what is happening to the characters in airplanes passing overhead.

Entertainment Value
This is where things got a little bit more dicey for me.  I just didn't fall in love with Astrid or really any other character in the story.  They're all kind of horrible.  And while we do see growth, mainly from Astrid, I don't think she's really accepted her right to be her own person by the end of the book.

I was particularly annoyed by her love interest, who is constantly pressuring her to do more physically than she wants to do.  And while Astrid does learn to stand up to her, she remains a love interest for the entire book - despite forcing herself on Astrid.  If she were a male character, there's no way the reader would be "allowed" to root for her and Astrid.  So why is it different with her being a girl?

I liked the book and it sparked a great discussion amongst my FYA Book Club friends.  We had a great time talking about it and I think I came away with a greater appreciation for it, but it still isn't a favorite.  I applaud King's writing, but the plot just didn't grab me and the romance felt really coercive to me.  I recommend it for fans of contemporary YA, those with an interest in LGBTQ themes, and "issue" books.

1 comment:

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