This review is part of my month of asexual fiction from Smashwords.
What is this story about?
Morena, a 40-year old Brazilian-American, lives in Seattle (year 2013) with her cocaine-using roommate Suzyn and works in logistics and distribution for Starbucks. Both Morena and Suzyn go to story-gaming meetups, where they hand out with Magic Guy, who they believe is a regular human, but is in fact a 6,000 year old elf. Morena gets an iPhone from her ex-boyfriend who had kept on fetishizing her Latin-ness and forgetting that she doesn’t speak Spanish (she speaks English and Portuguese). What Morena doesn’t know is that it is a magic iPhone which will compel her to keep on using dating apps to meet guys, even when it is clear that it is not good for her.
What the *****?
The story is called “Cracked”, okay? It is obviously an example of crackfic as original fiction (as opposed to fan fiction).
By the way, you put in five stars, not four, in your question.
I put in FIVE stars because it’s supposed to replace a FIVE letter word.
Well, I suppose there is no problem with using five letter swear words instead of four letter swear words. Assuming that what you are blocking out with stars is in fact a swear word.
What sexual and/or violent content is there in this story?
There is no sex in this story, and … not much discussion of sexual topics, actually. There are guys who try to hit on Morena in creepy ways, such as asking her to take a shower with them, and sometimes there is sexual innuendo in the jokes, but that’s what I can think of off hand. As far as violence, hmmmm, there is a prank which ends up killing a innocent woman in 19th century England.
I thought you said the story takes place in Seattle in the year 2013.
I also pointed out that this is essentially crackfic.
So tell me more about this crack-original-fic.
Contrary to the title, it’s really more about Seattle than iPhones (magic or otherwise). On the one hand, I have never been to Seattle, or anywhere in the western United States north of Eugene, Oregon. On the other hand, I was born on the West Coast of north America and have spent most of my life here (I am going to define ‘West Coast’ as everywhere between San Diego and Juneau, including coastal British Columbia). So in some ways, the culture of Seattle as presented in this story is familiar because I am from West Coast culture, and in some ways it is not familiar. So I found the ways it was familiar-yet-unfamiliar to be interesting.
A lot of the prose is like this:
There are few things in the world more relaxing than curling up with a mug of tea and watching horrible TV on Netflix while you fiddle with a smartphone or laptop and chat with a friend. Some people believe that’s too much to do all at once, but those people are all too old to have done collaborative homework over the phone (or, at least, don’t have as many attention issues as does the author of this book).
I recognize that this style is intentional, and that this novel wouldn’t be what it is without it. At the same time, I sometimes felt that it went too far for me, and that I would have preferred this aspect of the novel to have been pared down.
The major theme of this book is that friendship can be more valuable than romance. This point is hammered in when Morena, during a crisis, tells her friends that she needs a romantic partner because she needs someone who will always be there. She persists in believing that a romantic partner will be the one who will always be there, in spite of the fact that her friends are there to support her through her crisis, and her boyfriend is not. It’s ironic.
I actually think this novel is more relevant to aromanticism than asexuality (especially since the moral of the story is ‘friendship can be more valuable than romance’). That said, on the asexuality scale (1 = least asexual content, 10 = most asexual content) I would rate this novel as a 2.
The aromantic asexual character is Magic Guy. Yep, it’s the non-human character. However, even the asexual readers who get annoyed with the frequency that asexual characters are non-human admit that the trope can be done well and that it’s not necessarily a bad depiction of asexuality. I would put this is the ‘not bad’ category.
The first mention of Magic Guy’s asexuality is in Chapter 2:
“Besides,” said Morena, “you’ve never tried to pick me up.”
Magic Guy laughed. “I wouldn’t. I’m asexual and aromantic, so it seems horribly unlikely.”
“Of course,” said Morena, oh-so-put-upon. “All the good ones are taken, gay, or ace.”
It is mentioned again in Chapter 14:
“I know.” She sat up and twisted to look at him, her eyebrows screwed together in confusion and slight derision. As if to say duh! Though he was pretty sure kids didn’t say that anymore. “You said you were ace.” Which was true, he had told both Suzyn and Morena that he identified as asexual way back in Chapter Two – Let You Tell Me a Story.
Magic Guy, at one point, is in a situation where a father has caught him with his daughter, and the father is angry at him because he believes that Magic Guy has stained his daughter’s honor, and it’s treated as humorous that an asexual aromantic guy is accused of disturbing a young woman’s sexual purity.
Oh, and there is also this:
He shrugged, and if it was more bravado than surety, no one had to know. “What’s the worst it can do to me? Make me go on a date?”
They both laughed at the idea of an asexual aromantic being forced to go on a date.
The writer herself has said here:
I like to think, though, that by adding characters who are ace-spectrum, more readers will see that as a normal state that coexists with the mainstream. I once had a reader tell me that he’d never heard the term “ace” for asexual before reading one of my books. (This one isn’t YA, but does have an explicitly asexual character: Cracked! A Magic iPhone Story.)
Was this written by an asexual?
Janine A. Southard is demisexual.
Hey Sara, do you like this novel?
I … suppose I do. The style did annoy me at times, and I wish that it were about 25% shorter, but I guess even with the aspects I didn’t like, I still like this novel overall.
One may buy this novel from Smashwords and various other book retailers.