ARC Review by Annie: Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan

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A single stroke can change your world.

Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.

Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.

Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.

Goodreads
Release Date: August 8th

reviewedbyannie

*A copy of this was provided via NetGalley

DNF at 22%. No rating.

One  of the things I decided was that I would not force myself to finish a book I wasn’t interested in reading anymore. My interest in Antisocial was negative 100 by the time I decided to call it quits. I don’t know a nice or pretty way to say that this book is bad. Because it is.

From the first page on this fetishizes Japanese culture.

“The legend, as Xander had been told, was that in the 1870s a group of rich, eccentric friends from New York toured Asia and fell in love with Japan. They came home full of half-baked Shinto beliefs and a passion to start a Japanese revolution in the US.”

There’s a quote in there which actually sums it up quite nicely:

“…but mostly the college was a bunch of rich white people, a handful of people of color, and an explosion of Japanese culture that made no sense when you looked at it from the outside.”

There is no Japanese character in this, except for the dead husband of one of the teachers. And that doesn’t count because he has been dead for a while. Plus you don’t get cookies for the token Japanese character. Apart from that all characters are white, but somehow everyone is thinks themselves to be an expert on Japan and Japanese culture. This is highly problematic.

Additional to the fetishiziation of Japanese culture we have an instance where being depressed is being compared to being antisocial. And just a page later Stockholm Syndrome is being compared to not wanting to work together on a school project. See quotes below:

“He’s a gifted artists, but he’s reaching Van Gogh levels of antisocial temperament.”

Van Gogh wasn’t antisocial, he was depressed and ended up taking his own life. Being depressed and antisocial are NOT the same thing.

“Also it was clear he was having some kind of Stockholm Syndrome over Skylar because of their forced contact due to their projects.”

Those things mentioned above where the last straw for me. I had only been reading because I (as an asexual person) wanted to see what the ace-rep was like. Though judging from the things mentioned above I think I really don’t want to read how the author handled the asexuality. I had enough after the first 22% and just couldn’t keep reading any more of it.

If you’re looking for a review that also talks about the ace rep I suggest you read Ela’s review. She talks about the ace rep from an asexual point of view. Also read this review as well. There’s more about what the trans/nb rep in this book, the fetishization of Japan and the ace rep are like.
Edited to add Ren’s review to those you should definitely check out. Xie is a non-binary/transmasculine aroace reviewer. Just… read the review.

Not recommended.

Instead check out Blank Spaces by Cass Lennox, Thaw by Elyse Springer, His Quiet Agent by Ada Maria Soto, All the Wrong Places by Ann Gallagher, The Executive Office series by Tal Bauer, Empty Net by Avon Gale or Concourse by Santino Hassell. All those feature ace-rep that I’d recommend you to read.

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Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys playing with new recipes, reading romance and manga, playing with her cats, and watching too much anime. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.

Genre: Contemporary Orientation: Asexual (+ace-spec) Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Review Self Published Tag: Art / Artist

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