I’m sharing another instalment of my Mini Review Mondays, the most recent of which was the other week. In case you haven’t seen any of my previous posts, I do ‘mini’ reviews of books that I’ve previously read and am now ready to share my full thoughts about.
First up, I’d like to talk about Gay Club! by Simon James Green. Thank you so much to Harriet Dunlea at Scholastic for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Barney’s a shoo-in for his school’s LGBTQ+ Society President at the club’s next election. But when the vote is opened up to the entire student body, the whole school starts paying attention. How low will the candidates go to win? Buckle up for some serious shade, scandals and sleazy shenanigans. It isn’t long before it’s National Coming Out Day – for everyone’s secrets!
But when the group faces an unexpected threat – and a big opportunity – can the club members put politics aside and stand united?
Publication Date: 5th May
TW: homophobia, bullying, violence, manipulation, hate crime
Gay Club! is another book that perfectly showcases Simon James Green’s winning combination of irreverent humour, fantastically outspoken characters and a heartfelt exploration of identity and sexuality.
Simon James Green is one of those authors that always puts a smile on my face. My heart leaps a little with joy every time I hear he has a new book coming, as I know exactly what I’m signing up for. This is no exception, turning a school LGBTQ+ President election into a highly dramatic, hilarious and entertaining rollercoaster ride. It has it all, betrayals, love and flashmob performances of Katy Perry. I found myself belly-laughing as some of these scenarios got more and more bizarre and elaborate. That sheer sense of spectacle really meshes well with Simon’s unique brand of humour. He really squeezes every last drop of awkwardness possible from every situation.
All of this would not work without a fantastic cast of characters though and I think these are my favourites from Simon yet. Barney, George, Maya, Paxton and Danny were all so lovable and real, from their dialogue to their relationship dynamics. These are no stock characters, instead they are imbued with heart and soul. This authenticity really makes the book shine and connects to the central theme of the book. At its core, this is a book about community, identity and being proud of who you are. The school they’re within is homophobic and determined to mock these wonderful people simply for being who they are.
Sadly, this rings all too true for real life, particularly considering the recent banning of Simon from school events. The idea that being LGBTQ+ and speaking about it is somehow inappropriate is so wrong. Simon ensures the importance of uplifting LGBTQ+ voices, including a diverse cast of characters, and keeping issues relevant to the community at the forefront of his books. I personally love how ultimately all of his books celebrate queer joy, be that in romantic or platonic relationships.
Gay Club is a joyful and grandiose peek into school politics, albeit one that also really digs into normalised cultures of homophobia and the importance of standing together.
Next up, I’d like to talk about Glitterati by Oliver K Langmead. Thank you so much to Titan Books for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
A Clockwork Orange and RuPaul’s Drag Race meet Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in this fabulous dystopian fable about fashion, family and feckless billionaires.
Simone is one of the Glitterati, the elite living lives of luxury and leisure. Slave to the ever-changing tides – and brutal judgements – of fashion, he is immaculate. To be anything else is to be unfashionable, and no one wants to be unfashionable, or even worse, ugly… When Simone accidentally starts a new fashion with a nosebleed at a party, another Glitterati takes the credit. Soon their rivalry threatens to raze their opulent utopia to the ground, as no one knows how to be vicious like the beautiful ones. Enter a world of the most fantastic costumes, grand palaces in the sky, the grandest parties known to mankind and the unbreakable rules of how to eat ice cream.
A fabulous dystopian fable about fashion, family and the feckless billionaire class.
Publication Date: 17th May
TW: blood, violence, death, murder, kidnapping
Glitterati was a cocktail of petty drama, satirical bite and a boatload of fabulousness. This is a twisted little gem, giving you a peek behind the curtain in a brutally dystopian world gilded with glamour.
Simone was such an intriguing protagonist to follow along with. He is deeply unlikable, uncaring and vacuous. As one of the Glitterati, he is caught up in the ever more complicated web of fashion and the resulting power plays of style. Every sartorial choice could make or break you. This way of exploring power and particularly class dynamics was fascinating. Every so often, you get a glimpse into the true horror of this dystopian world Simone inhabits and it is startling. As the book continues, you also get a sense of the horror facing Simone himself. The way the Glitterati have their bodies and minds altered constantly is genuinely shocking and the implications this has are immense. Langmead carefully weaves in these little hints that indicate towards the larger scale of machinations designed to keep this system in place. While Simone does not become entirely sympathetic due to some of his more horrible actions, you do begin to understand him a little more.
Much like the world Simone inhabits, Langmead disguises his sharp satirical cuts with pretty, shiny things. The descriptions of the outfits, makeup and general environment in this book are gorgeous and so evocative to read. You can picture every stunning detail. You come to realise this is all just an elaborate spectacle to distract you from the incisive commentary Langmead is making on appearances, illusion and class. In particular, the dehumanisation of almost all experiences and the way this is reflected in the language used is eerie and despicable.
Glitterati is an intricate smokescreen of vapid glamour enamoured with itself in order for Langmead to enshroud his biting social commentary.
Finally, I’d like to delve into Glorious Poison by Kat Dunn. Thank you to Zephyr Books and Head of Zeus for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
As Royalist strength grows, the Duc de L’Aubespine plots a coup that will consign the revolution to history. With Olympe in his clutches, he believes nothing can stop him. But he’s reckoned without the intrepid Battalion of the Dead!
Reunited in Paris, Ada is poised for action – but if she plays her hand too soon, everything she’s sacrificed to gain his trust will be lost. Meanwhile, an unlikely alliance with an old enemy might be Camille’s only option to save Olympe and stop the duc in his tracks.
The glittering and macabre bals des victimes and the eerie catacombs make the perfect backdrop for the final episode of the Battalion’s tale.
Publication Date: 9th June
TW: death, torture, violence, animal death
Kat Dunn has never failed to really put me through an emotional wringer in this trilogy and Glorious Poison is no exception. This was the best ending possible to a fantastic, emotional and constantly challenging trilogy that combines historical fiction with science fiction.
Dunn has created an explosive conclusion that will tug at your heartstrings and leave your jaw dropped. Every time you think you know where everything lies, something shifts and the whole world tilts on its axis. Dunn is incredible at crafting an intricate plot full of shifting alliances, found family and devious twists. There are schemes within schemes within schemes here. I really appreciate that level of layering and detail. Dunn really creates this tricksy rabbit hole for you to fall down. On top of that, the world-building is even more sublime here. I loved the way the political landscape has shifted and how that factors into the perception of our characters and their world. This is not the same France we first saw in Dangerous Remedy and our central cast is fundamentally changed. Also, I adored the inclusion of a little recap at the beginning, which was much needed and helped immerse myself once more in Dunn’s daring world.
This is a book that revels in its central cast of lovable, roguish and complex characters. Their morality is complicated, but they are united in their pursuit of justice and liberty. After that plot twist and cliffhanger at the end of Monstrous Design, I was chomping at the bit to be reunited with our Battalion of the Dead. Dunn never makes this an easy read, constantly upping the stakes and placing the characters you have come to love in even more perilous situations. I have loved watching their growth and development over the trilogy, with Dunn throwing in subtle callbacks to previous incidents that really warmed my heart.
Glorious Poison is a book that goes out with a bang, much like its incredible cast of characters. This is an underrated trilogy that deserves so much love and support.