The second book for my 2018 Asexual Reading list was Island of Exiles (Young Adult 402 pages) by Erica Cameron.
“In Khya’s world, every breath is a battle. On the isolated desert island of Shiara, dying young is inevitable. The clan comes before self, and protecting her home means Khya is a warrior above all else. But when following the clan and obeying their leaders could cost her brother his life, Khya’s home becomes a deadly trap. The only person who can help is Tessen, her lifelong rival and the boy who challenges her at every turn. The council she hoped to join has betrayed her, and their secrets, hundreds of years deep, reach around a world she’s never seen. To save her brother’s life and her island home, her only choice is to trust Tessen, turn against her clan, and go on the run – a betrayal and a death sentence.”
So I actually finished reading this book over two weeks ago but life has been entirely too busy lately and the first thing that usually gets sacrificed is my writing. It’s not ideal, but that’s how things go when you have to pay the rent and buy food.
The representation in this book is very good and it treats sexuality as a common situation and a common acceptance. Same-sex or non-sexual partnerships were accepted and valued without any judgment or negative repercussions. While I appreciate the non-binary representation, I think that one of the things throughout the book world right now is the non-standardization of how to appropriately represent non-binary personnel. In this book, non-binary pronouns are eir/ey/em pronouns, which are probably unfamiliar to those outside the non-binary spectrum. Additionally, there hasn’t been any sort of comprehensive design on how to standardize non-binary pronoun usage, which means that the terms aren’t household usage at the current time. Some of this might be confusing if readers lack the desire to research the pronoun meanings and readers might struggle with trying to figure out which sentence structure is meant, such as they/them/their (she/her/hers or he/him/his). This book contained representation of all varieties with a very diverse cast. I do have to add that the asexual representation in this book was not the main character and the protagonist did wind up in a hetero-romantic relationship. While having diverse representation is wonderful, my reading goal is to try to find more asexual protagonists.
This was a fascinating and highly addictive book. As much as some of the terminology and names required me to pay more attention to everything in this novel than I normally do when I read, I was sucked into the story and the characters almost instantly.
I read through this book quickly and it was such an engaging read that I almost purchased the second book in the series on the same day I finished Island of Exiles. I think the only reason I haven’t ordered the sequel yet is because of the timing, such as how busy work is right now. This was one of those books where I stayed up until 3am reading it until I finished because I desperately needed to know what was going on and how things would turn out and this book left me hungry for the sequel because so many things were left in not-as-great-as-I’d-like situations.
Overall, this book is a solid three on my rating scale. I’m happy I own it and I will happily buy the next book in the sequel and reread them both in the future.