Tag Archives: as i descended

Things in Print Thursday :: monthly big queer book review [As I Descended]

9 Feb

So through January I was doing a gigantic reread of all of the Wicked Years books, but when I was done I thought “well. Drift partner’s library is now under the same roof as me. I should avail myself of it, and more specifically the collection of queer books I’ve wanted to read but just haven’t gotten around to.” So I decided, somewhat to make up for the fact that I wimped out of last year’s read-a-book-a-month challenge to myself, I would make a point of doing one of these queer books per month. Or other queer books, maybe, I don’t know yet. I’m starting here.

As I Descended was explained to me, by her, as “crazy lesbian Macbeth.” Adjectives such as “bonkers” were also utilized. That was pretty much all I needed as a recommendation. Plus, I’d done a bit of Robin Talley’s stuff last year, so I figured I’d be on even ground.

One nice thing about this book: the constantly shifting (third-person) POV. I’m fond of the multiple POV approach in general, but it was really interesting to see how it played out here, shifting multiple times in a chapter. The overanalytical drama kid in me says “well but that makes sense, because plays can be seen from any of the characters’ POV” but then the English major says “this is even better than complete objectivity this is a constant interplay of equally pissed-off emotional teenage narrators all with different psychoses for maximum dramatic effect.” It didn’t get confusing, it kept you constantly appraised of different ideas characters were having about the goings-on (which were, in fact, bonkers), and it gave a good sense of motivation for everyone.

Another nice thing about this book: okay, yeah, it’s a queer book, but it’s… based on a famous Shakespearean tragedy. You know most everyone is gonna die, so the queer kids are probably gonna die, but it’s not gross or burn-your-gays. Plus, the author is a queer lady, so you know she’s not doing it out of awful. Her books just have a lot of queer people in them, so what happens happens. It helped, I admit, having a good sense of who was going to die. Took some of the edge off. Also, by virtue of knowing ~the Scottish play~, I knew that everyone was also probably going to be a little bit horrible, and again, that was just how it was. No judgment.

I’m not sure how much you’re supposed to really sympathize with most of the characters, protagonists included, but there are moments where each of them invites it. I wasn’t out even to myself in high school, but it’s easy for me to imagine how that could color the motivations of especially a misanthropic queer kid. Up to a point, everyone’s motivations were pretty understandable.

Except, you know, the whole ghosts thing. That catapulted it into full-on Southern Gothic spoopy creppy nonsense land, and I am 100% in favor of that.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that this book was a bunch of my interests put in a blender, and that’s fun. Rarer than you might think.

–your fangirl heroine.