Out - Laura Preble
1/27/12: Nope. Just, nope. Molestation! Lesbians and gays are evil! Trans-individuals don't exist! Lesbians and gays don't rape! Men can't be raped! Nonsensical/nonexistent world-building! Underage sex scenes! Every one of those damn things makes me want to burn this book instead of read it, even to make a point. Thankfully, someone took that bullet for us: Rose's Review (and status updates) paints a grim, enraging picture that proves that all of the concerns I wrote about below were not only dead on but the least of what's problematic about this novel.1/23/12: Okay, this is free right now. I'm debating on whether or not to go ahead and finish reading. I mean, look how long my review of the first chapter is. And I'm still nervous.08/29/12: The initial reaction to this is that is another [b:Revealing Eden|12393909|Revealing Eden (Save the Pearls, #1)|Victoria Foyt|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327901263s/12393909.jpg|17375046], this time exploring what would happen if, in society and religion, homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuality were outlawed. It doesn't parallel our society exactly as heterosexuality is punishable by imprisonment and the government appears to be inextricably tied to the church. I was going to give this a fair chance because it doesn't seem to be as inherently problematic as Revealing Eden. I'm not sure what turning the oppressed minority into the villains in speculative fiction accomplishes, but it's possible that, with a deft hand, a valuable lesson could be taught in this type of story. After reading the first chapter I'm left to wonder if it doesn't suffer from similar pitfalls as Victoria Foyt's novel. The first few paragraphs are slightly confusing and should probably be separated into a prologue. They also paint the gay majority as rather horrific. Again, I don't understand what is gained by writing them this way.This story is told in first person, present tense and yet I have no feeling for Chris at all. It's almost like it picks up in the middle of a story. I had trouble even remembering his name. All we really know about him by the end of the chapter is that he doesn't like his family and he thinks he's going to hell (even before the unthinkable happens), and he's never been attracted to anyone before.The world building is already questionable. Perpendiculars are heterosexual and Parallels are homosexual. I don't really get that, but at least it's not out-of-the-gate offensive like "Coals". "I think my surrogate mother must have had some faulty genes or something. Maybe she was secretly reading banned literature while I was in utero. Listening to pirate radio. Dabbling in deviant art.     Would have had to have been secret; no way David and Warren would have chosen a less-than-perfect-model-Parallel citizen surrogate for their family. Conscious survival of the species and all that.""I know, it’s wrong, and if Perpendicular couples lived freely, society would go to hell, there’d be chaos and unplanned babies; God wants Parallels to be parents because they choose the experience."I include these quotes as I saw someone ask about procreation. It's…odd, but okay it's a part of this society. I think if I think about it too much I'll end up with a headache. But here's where it becomes confusing:"Parallel relationships are clean, safe, sanctioned by the church, and you have to plan to have a child, you have to apply for a license, and any lust there might be is not going to produce some random baby. It’s progressive evolution, and all that stuff they teach you in school." "It’s not just against the law, Andrea. It’s not natural, and it's a sin. I committed a sin. God knows about it. "How is heterosexual mating part of the evolution of humans in this story but also "not natural"? So far this is reading like the 'homonormative' society in this book was a conscious choice and not something that actually did evolve naturally. I also fear that this ignores the existence of the transgendered. I hope it's addressed in some way and other than "it's a sin!" If you're going to explore this alternate reality, do it thoroughly. Speaking of, I think so far the religious influence in society is already a bit heavy handed. For instance,"I don’t know if you were paying attention in government class, but the person who runs the Anglicant church also becomes the leader of the U.S. Senate, and that’s fully half the functioning government. If the president is pro-Anglicant, the House of Representatives becomes irrelevant, and then…well, then,the Senate leader is pretty much running the country."Again, not something that makes sense to me but I can accept it as being a part of this world. I'll try not to think about it too much.For the plot of this book to work I think the love between Chris and the girl is going to have to be a real, all abiding love worth fighting society/God, and risking imprisonment and possibly death. "I want to touch her again, to talk to her, dammit, dammit, why does it feel like I stuck my finger in an electrical outlet?" "I went up to light a candle, and bumped into this person, and then I got these weird chills and hot stabs and just felt like...like I was going to pounce on him and lick him all over. But it wasn't a him. It was a her."This is not giving me hope that this won't be insta-love. Attraction is a fine jumping off point. It's different and "wrong" and something for him to freak out about as the story begins. But I won't be able to buy all the suffering and pain they go through later if electrical touch attraction is the only basis for their love.At this point I was still willing to continue reading to really give this a chance but I think I've hit the point at which Laura Preble did not think her premise through to see how it would be perceived by readers. I'm not sold on continuing this story anymore.Chris is 17 years old and his father is trying to marry him off to a 30-year-old for political gain. He tried to do the same with his older sister, Jana, when she was his age. Jana also hints at the Angelicant Senate being involved in other deviant activities.There are people out there who still equate homosexuality with pedophilia. Others believe homosexuality immediately means sexual deviants who engage in all types of aberrant behavior. With those dangerous and hurtful stereotypes still a part of our society why, why, why would you write about the gay majority being involved in basically selling off underage kids? Again, what purpose does that serve? How could Preble not see how this would be perceived? “What about love?” “Love?” He snorts. “Well, you sound like what you are, a teenager. Love is great for ordinary people, Chris, but for people like us…it’s just not practical. You’re part of something larger than yourself. A church. A government. You’re my son, and if I can find you a place, you can be part of what makes this country great. We can be part of that. That means something.” I sit silently, fumbling with my seatbelt. He hits the steering wheel, which makes me jump. “I just wish you’d wake up and stop being so….” This doesn't bode well. At all.