Monday, 8 December 2014

Ask The Passengers - A.S. King


I reeeally enjoyed this book! I've just finished it so here are some rough thoughts:

This was very easy to get into. There were lots of fun aspects of it, like Frank Socrates and the chapter titles, and it was just very easy to read. Unlike books like Paper Towns, there weren't moments when I was like "wow that's a beautiful quote", but I thought there were a lot of good points explored within this. I have a very basic knowledge of Greek philosophy (most of my classical studies degree was epic/drama/poetry rather than philosophy) but I enjoyed all of the exploration of Socrates and the way the discussion of the people chained in the cave ran throughout.

I think I enjoyed this so much because I empathised with it. I understood Astrid's feelings of uncertainty, how she didn't just know that she was gay, she had to figure out all of her confusion: "I am the not knowing queen". It was really great to see a character take the time to figure out how they identified. So many people in this book pressure Astrid to label herself as either 'gay' or 'not gay' and say that she's lying to them, when actually she just genuinely doesn't know. I liked that she refused to bow down to all of this pressure; she identifies as gay only when she's sure she is, she refuses to be pressured into sex when she doesn't want it, she generally just lets herself figure these things out in her own time. And she calls people out on this pressuring as well, which was refreshing.

 I empathised with her dysfunctional family (my family is definitely dysfunctional but it's not this bad. Her mother is absolutely horrid and I really, strongly dislike her). I've spent a lot of time recently sifting through some complicated feelings I have towards certain family issues that I have mostly ignored up til this point, and although our experiences are very different I definitely connected to Astrid more as a result. Maybe if I hadn't been mulling these things over then I wouldn't have liked this book as much, but at the end of the day isn't that what fiction is supposed to do? Be a thing that we can connect to and see ourselves in and help us to figure out our own shit? I can't say I feel any better about my own stuff but I definitely enjoyed connecting to this book.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the relationship between Astrid and Dee. I'm definitely glad that we're not expected to accept Dee's pushiness as normal. She's overly forceful and I was very happy Astrid calls her out on it and that they discuss it and Dee alters her behaviour. It could very easily have been played as something that was fine and acceptable when it's really not. I also don't love that nothing is said about Astrid kissing Kim. Bearing in mind that she considers Dee her girlfriend at that point, her kissing another girl is not cool and she never really acknowledges that it's something she shouldn't have done. If the roles were reversed she definitely would have got pissed at Dee about it, so that niggled me a bit. 

I liked the little glimpses into the lives of the people on the plane, I thought that was a nice touch! The last one especially was very effective. I also quite liked that idea of sending love up to the planes, "it feels good to love a thing and not expect anything back". I also really liked this quote: "she smiled at me and I never forgot it. Or more accurately, I always remembered it".

I did really like this book, and I'm definitely planning on reading some more A.S. King in the future as a result!

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