Disclaimer: I received an eARC copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This is one of those rare occasions where I know I need to write a blog post as soon as I have finished the book so that I can capture my thoughts accurately. I’m definitely feeling a lot of emotions when it comes to this story so let’s jump right into it.
Published August 1, 2020 by Atria Books
Data from Goodreads
Set in a terrifyingly familiar near-future, with massive floods leading to rampant homelessness and devastation, a government-sanctioned regime called The Boots seizes on the opportunity to round up communities of color, the disabled, and the LGBTQ+ into labor camps.
In the shadows, a new hero emerges. After he loses his livelihood as a drag queen and the love of his life, Kay joins the resistance alongside Bahadur, a transmasculine refugee, and Firuzeh, a headstrong social worker. Guiding them in the use of weapons and close-quarters combat is Beck, a rogue army officer, who helps them plan an uprising at a major televised international event.
My Review: I’m Conflicted
Rep: LGBTQIA+, POC, Indigenous peoples, disability
TW: violence, systemic oppression against all marginalized groups, labor camps, use of derogatory terms, forced sterilization (not on page), pedophilia, deadnaming
As you might have noticed, there are a LOT of trigger warnings with this book. If you are looking for an easy read, then this is not for you. Crosshairs deals with very difficult content that purposely makes the reader uncomfortable.
I think that this novel does a lot of good things in that it forces the reader to see social issues from a different perspective. However, it gets quite heavy-handed, losing all sense of plot and letting the themes supersede.
The Pros: What Worked For Me
- Even though the reader gets to read about various experiences, I like that the author chose to stick to one person as the narrator. It helped ground the story, which is very complex.
- I absolutely loved reading about Kay’s exploration into the drag scene and becoming a queen. As a fan of all things drag, it was a lovely touch to read about!
- There was a very important point made about intersectionality that I wholeheartedly support. In this novel, queer white characters had a level of protection unavailable to queer people of colour. This disparity is something I have seen in real life and it was really powerful to see it addressed in this novel and brought to the forefront.
- There was a strong focus on allyship that I really appreciated. Often, people talk about how allyship is done wrong but it is rare to see people talking about how allyship can be done right. While it was heavy-handed, it was important enough that I could overlook it.
- The story is set in Toronto, which is my hometown. I’m always partial to a story that takes place in Canada, especially since most novels prefer our southern neighbour to us. I think that the choice was actually very smart because it shows that just because Canadians have a reputation for being “nice” and “polite” doesn’t mean that atrocities against marginalized people can’t happen here.
The Cons: What I Didn’t Like
- In the story’s attempts to discuss the various themes, the plot was lost. Around 70% into the story, the plot just derailed and became overly dramatic.
- There were times when the characters would burst into monologues to get their point across. This really pulled me out of the story and (I’m sorry to say) made me cringe. In trying to press the importance of the message, it ended up having the opposite effect.
- The ending was far too dramatic and unrealistic. Things happened way too easily and it felt like the author had forgotten to write an ending and so, had frantically put something together.
I really wanted to love this story. And I still think that it is an important book to promote. However, the ending of the story really ruined the experience due to its unrealistic nature. For those reasons, I can’t give it higher than 3/5 stars.