Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Premature Book Review: Lunatic Fringe (Allison Moon, 2011) | @TalesofthePack

In my normal spirit of full disclosure I'll start by saying this review is of an unreleased book and I was contacted by the author about doing a review. No monies have changed hands. :-)

Lunatic Fringe is a "is a coming-of-age, lesbian paranormal romance" telling the story of Lexie Clarion. The author, Allison Moon, is pretty notable in the LGBT literary/academic community [bio] and this is her first novel.

Now, on the surface this story might smack a bit of Twilight, which I do not intend as an insult. You may remember that I do not share the ire for Ms Meyer's work so prevalent on the internet, nor the love felt for it either. The similarities are a bit superficial. A young woman from a broken home moves to a new school in the Pacific Northwest and falls in with a group of paranormals. It pretty much ends there. The book is likely closer to The Secret History or The Basic Eight in story style. Like Richard from The Secret History or Flannery from The Basic Eight, Lexie finds herself in a world she is unprepared for and sucked into a tight group that only warily invites outsiders. It is very enjoyable thus far. I like to do reviews without completing the book as it prevents me from spoiling plot twists, and I generally know in the first few chapters if I intend to finish a book or not. I am a slow reader, and yesterday read the first 100 pages, so from an enjoyability standpoint that is high praise.

A big part of the book deals with Feminism, and it is handled nicely here. For years Feminism has gotten a bad name, thanks to the right wing's attacks on all things not rich-white-male related. I know many women who would never call themselves Feminists, but if you told them their gender was the reason for their inequality they would be pissed. This narrative approach to discussing Feminism allows Moon to look at Feminism from many angles and make arguments that are not as effective in non-fiction. In non-fiction it is bad form to undermine your own argument in the spirit of discussion unless you are masterful at such things. Fiction allows for the various points of view to come from individual entities, even though all entities are in fact the author.

To call back to Twilight there is another difference here. In Meyer's books you know that there are vampires, and it is pretty clear who they are. All you have to do is read the blurb. In Lunatic Fringe you know there are werewolves, but it is not completely clear who they are. For me this has created much of the enjoyment. This and the desire to know what the eventual conflict will be. The book has staying power, and is obviously building without showing its hand too early.

A concern for some might be the potential for eroticism in this book. While in a classic sense it is erotic, it is not (yet at least) erotic in the modern bastardization of the word, i.e. it is not what I believe many would call dirty or pornographic. If we must, let's call it evocative or alluring instead. As of yet there has been no graphic description of genitalia or of sexual acts, but the loves scenes are not without hotness. They are perhaps similar to Le Fanu's Carmilla, or even the exchanges between Fanny and Charles in Cleland's Fanny Hill (though I have not read that in years, so those scenes may be more graphic than I recall). They are not even all that "lesbian" if I may be so bold, but rather Universal expressions of love and yes, lust between people written in such a way that does not require gender identification from the reader.

Lunatic Fringe will be released September 30th 2011. Paperback and eBook pre-order information, as well as tickets to the release party at San Fransico's El Rio, can be found here. By email Moon said she is working on a sequel. I think it will be well worth book lovers time, and unlikely to disappoint.


Pollo Del Mar said...

Nice review. I find it interesting that you write these without finishing the book. Maybe I'm too concerned whether a book's end will be a let down to do anything of that nature?!

Darius Whiteplume said...

I have a long history of being disappointing by endings, so I tend to expect them. That way if the ending is bad, I am not bothered, and if it is great I am pleasantly surprised. My glass is always half full; I just don't always know what the liquid is ;-)

Unknown said...

This sounds neat! I think I'll put this in the let's read this pile! Thanks, Darius!

Darius Whiteplume said...

No problem. I just finished it today, and the ending was surprisingly good. Not that I expected a bad ending, save in the way mentioned above. Allison is Hella nice as well.

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