What: As I Descended by Robin Talley
When: September 6th 2016
How: A copy of this novel was provided by HarperCollins for review via Edelweiss.
Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.
Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.
Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.
But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.
Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.
But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.
From acclaimed author Robin Talley comes a Shakespeare-inspired story of revenge and redemption, where fair is foul, and foul is fair.
I really, really wanted to love As I Descended, and even though I enjoyed it there was essentially something missing that didn’t tip it over into the ‘omg I love this everyone READ IT NOW’ area.
There are three main things that I really liked about As I Descended, which I will tell you about right now:
1) THE DIVERSITY.
Caps completely necessary. The Macbeth/Lady Macbeth couple in this is f/f. Maria’s (Macbeth) best friend is gay, and also has a boyfriend. These four characters are the POV characters in As I Descended. Which means that there is an abundance of diversity in As I Descended, and it made me INCREDIBLY HAPPY to see queer characters around and friends with other queer characters. Because this happens. This is real. This is life.
2) THE ABSENCE OF BI ERASURE.
Again: caps necessary. Maria is BISEXUAL. And she says she is BISEXUAL. And she has a FEMALE PARTNER. But does not somehow discredit her previous attraction/relationships/whatever with guys just because she’s with a girl right now. BISEXUALITY IS A SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND BLESS As I Descended FOR ACKNOWLEDGING THIS.
3) The storyline.
It was really quite interesting, and I was never bored. There were some pretty creepy aspects, and these were probably my favourite parts. Like when Lily (Lady Macbeth) was all: yeah, let’s drug her so you can be captain of the soccer team. A+ Lady Macbeth channelling right there. I also really liked the shadow people/things because they were creepy AF and I could have done with a whole lot more of them because they were definitely the most creepy things in As I Descended.
Unfortunately, there were also some things that I didn’t love about As I Descended:
1) I wanted more.
Yes, there were some creepy things, but I wanted more of that. I wanted to be on the edge of my seat (or couch, really, because that’s where I do most of my reading) with wanting to know what happened next. I never felt that sense of urgency to the plot, which was a tad disappointing.
2) I didn’t really care.
My favourite character was probably Mateo, but even then I never felt that ‘I love them, my preciouses’ feeling that I REALLY like to feel when I’m reading a book. So when all the shit went down, my main feeling was ‘okay’ *shrug*, which is 100% not what you really want when reading a book.
3) The motivation.
I feel like Maria’s motivation to forcefully drug Delilah (the competition for the prestigious scholarship) and kill a certain character and want to kill another certain character was … really quite stupid. A scholarship to go to whatever school you want? I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel high stakes-y enough for murder and drugging people and whatnot. I mean, I related to Maria because I was always second at school, and yes that sucks a whole bag of bananas, but I never would have drugged someone or killed someone over it, so hey. I guess I just felt like the actions did not fit the desire.
Overall, I would recommend As I Descended because it’s a completely queer retelling of Macbeth, and lord knows we need both queer retellings and whole casts of queer characters. And maybe for someone who doesn’t really love Macbeth it might turn out to be more enjoyable.
© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.