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What: 27 Hours (The Nightside Saga #1) by Tristina Wright

Who: Entangled: Teen

When: October 3rd 2017

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Entangled Publishing for review via Net Galley.

Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero.

I had been excited for 27 Hours from the moment I found out about it early last year. I saw “queer teens in space” and I wanted it. I found out that many under-represented queer identities were going to show up in this book, as well as intersectional diversity. I thought this book was kind of written for me.

And then I became aware of criticisms of some aspects of the book (mainly from this review, which I suggest you read). The points that Aimal makes are all incredibly valid, and also very… concerning. When I read the book I went in knowing these problematic aspects, and while I don’t know if I would have been as aware of them if I hadn’t read Aimal’s review beforehand I’m very glad I did.

In this world racism between humans doesn’t exist – so much so that a white person explains racism to a POC. This… did not sit well with me. Even if this conversation had to happen in the story, surely choosing a white character to explain racism to someone with Nigerian/Portuguese and Indian heritage is just… wrong. I can’t think of another word. But having a white person explain racism to a POC just comes off inherently wrong.

The colonialist themes in 27 Hours were uncomfortable to read about. Every POV character in the book is a human and all except one has extreme prejudice against the indigenous species of the planet – Chimera. All of the humans use a slur to describe and talk about the Chimera – ‘gargoyles’ – and believe they’re all the same… even when they look different (I’ll leave you to ponder on that one). And we’re supposed to care about the humans when they’ve, you know, invaded a planet that wasn’t theirs, killed the Chimera that lived there, taken their resources, started a war. I’m sorry but I just don’t sympathise with that. I just didn’t care when the characters were talking about how horrible it was for them. The planet already had its own inhabitants. I’m sorry if I’m not sympathising with your terrible actions and continued destruction of a planet that isn’t yours and the killing of a species that just wants their home back.

Beyond these things that made reading 27 Hours uncomfortable and the themes inherently problematic and harmful I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, anyway. It was so long, and there was so much going on, and there were so many POV characters to keep track of. I didn’t feel fully invested in anyone’s storyline and I can honestly say I only really cared about two or so human characters in the book.

The best thing about 27 Hours was the queer rep. All of the POV characters were queer: Rumor is bi (and of Nigerian/Portuguese and Indian heritage), Jude is gay, Braeden is ace (though I felt at times that it was being conflated with aro-ness), and Nyx is pan (and also Deaf and of Cuban heritage). However, there is discussion regarding this important queer rep and how it seems to be prioritised over the treatment of POC characters and the fumbled handling of colonial themes. I accepted this book for review before I read Aimal’s thoughts and criticisms so I don’t know if I would have read it had I not felt obligated. I can only say that we should not prioritise one marginalised community over another. We should not ignore harmful aspects in books just because we’ve found positives in that same text.

All in all 27 Hours was not what I expected – in more ways than one.

© 2017, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning

colonialist themes, war themes, multiple deaths, depictions of gore, ableism, use of ableist language, graphic fight scenes, fires, explosions, reference to death via drowning, reference to death of parents via cave collapse, reference to death of mother, death of father, absent parents, panic attacks, PTSD, death of a friend, and multiple physical injuries

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Posted on: December 5, 2017 • By: Chiara

12 Responses to Review: 27 Hours by Tristina Wright

  1. Emma` says:

    I am so glad that I read your thoughts on this, Chiara! I also read Aimal’s review of this book months ago. It is underwhelming and disappointing when an author is a champion for marginalized communities, yet when her book is released it’s…problematic and hurtful. I still don’t know how to feel especially about the author. It’s an age old question. Anyways, I completely agree with you. One marginalized community shouldn’t be a scapegoat for another. I really wanted to read this book because of the awesome queer rep, but the pro-colonialism left a bad taste in my mouth, especially when I’m taking courses that highlight the effects of colonialism to the native community.

    Great review as always, Chiara <3

    Much love!

    • Chiara says:

      I think you bring up an important thing as to why the situation with this book has been so difficult. The author does do a lot of work for under-represented voices, most especially queer rep. But when that same author in turn harms POC and Indigenous readers and potential readers it’s hard to reconcile. But like we’ve both said: that doesn’t mean that rep of one community should be prioritised over another. Sigh.

      Thank you, lovely! <3

  2. Oh no, I’m sorry this one was so problematic for you. It definitely does not seem right that white person is explaining racism to a POC. I get that racism doesn’t exist, but it does in the real world – so that should have been switched around, you know? Also, I don’t think I’d really care for the humans either – they sound kind of awful.

    -Lauren

    • Chiara says:

      Me too, Lauren. I agree that could have been handled better. I’m not sure why the decision was made to have a white person explain racism to a POC, even if it doesn’t exist in their world. The humans were awful!

  3. Yikes, I’ve heard pretty bad things about this one, both from Aimal’s review & others — I’m sorry to hear that it was so deeply problematic, especially since I feel like issues of indigenous people & colonisation so often get talked over & silenced even in these times where tolerance is becoming more & more a prerequisite to living. The whole thing of racism not existing between humans but existing between species is so problematic & honestly makes me wonder whether the author knows what she’s implying & how uncomfortably close that sounds to the whole “indigenous people aren’t human anyway” argument. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Chiara — will definitely be reading this one with a much more critical eye, if I pick it up at all. xx

    • Chiara says:

      I agree with everything you said here, Topaz. There were just so many inherently problematic and harmful themes and issues in this book that I was not willing or able to overlook them in favour of the positive queer rep. I’m hoping the author will learn and do better in the future. My pleasure, lovely <3

  4. I’m so glad you linked me to Aimal’s review because I know Tristina is a fantastic queer rep in the community but I mean…the book is about colonisation and being only from the perspective of the colonists that sounds terribly harmful?! Anyway, thanks for sharing lovely!

    • Chiara says:

      Yeah, you hit the nail on the head, Jeann. The oppressed weren’t given a voice, and as a reader I was expected to sympathy with the oppressors. No thanks. No problem, dear <3

  5. verushka says:

    Well, shoot. Talk about having the good (queer rep) in with everything else. Thank you for the insightful review, and for linking to the review on Goodreads

  6. Kelly says:

    I’ve seen the discussion on Twitter when Aimal wrote her review and how sadly it was pushed aside in favour of the queer representation. Identifying as neither, it wasn’t my place to weigh in on the discussion but completely agree how concerning it is and hope it’s okay that I share a little of my opinion here.

    I think the mark of a wonderful writer and an author that promotes inclusiveness is an author who is able to represent teens without offending another marginalised group. Indigenous Australians and Indigenous Americans continue to fight colonisation and perhaps with sensitivity readers this could have been addressed within the narrative. A white person explaining racism to a POC is just utterly condescending. A few readers applauded her representation but failed to see that it was also at the detriment of others. Especially in a community that is striving to raise marginalised voices, it was a bit shit to be honest. Absolutely brilliant review Chiara and thank you for breaking down the harmful themes for other readers <3 <3

    • Chiara says:

      I’m not sure if the author did use sensitivity readers, especially Indigenous ones, for this book. There was an apology issued by the author but I know that the harmed parties weren’t thrilled by it.

      The most disappointing thing was what you said – the harm done to POC and Indigenous readers WAS pushed aside, and that was horrible and should never have happened. We need to approach these issues with open minds and hearts, and with the willingness to apologise and do better.

      Thanks so much, Kelly <3

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