*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced my review.*
Lovely queer rep, an adorable AI, and a hopeful futuristic story!
There was a human trans character and his struggles, as well as an exploration of similar struggles through an AI character in a body for the first time. Things like feeling disconnected from your body and being perceived incorrectly. There was a big focus on things like consent and bodily autonomy and being allowed to explore and decide for yourself what sort of form your body should take and what you do with it. There were trans struggles, but also trans joy.
The characters were great. Osric (the AI) was adorable! A little bit disgruntled about his situation at first, naive about some things because he was still learning how bodies worked, but overall such a sweetheart. Valentine was scrappy and determined and so good-hearted. Often going out of his way to help people, even if it meant sacrificing things he wanted. The android women were fun. Cinnamon was hardcore, ready to stab anyone who looked at her the wrong way, but it was pretty understandable given the situation. The other android women were more naive, still coming into their self-awareness, but sweet.
I loved that there was some angst in the romance. Valentine and Osric had some little mishaps and struggles while getting to know each other. But their relationship was also full of care and understanding, to balance it out. I marked this as explicit sex on my blog, but it wasn’t super detailed and was very brief.
It was fun how the author created a… culture isn’t quite the right word, but the way the AI in Salt Lake did things, how they interacted with each other, how they formed relationships, etc. They were all connected and could sense each others’ feelings and thoughts.
The story was enjoyable and kept me reading. The romance and Valentine’s goal of moving into the city to be able to get hormones and surgery ran throughout the book, but there was also a plotline about running a job to retrieve some stolen androids, but then everything goes awry.
I’m categorizing this as post-apoc, though I’m not sure if that’s super accurate. The setting was a sort of rough but not overly awful future. Rough outside the cities, there are “pirates,” people band together in communities or take salvage jobs to get by, but things seem pretty good inside the cities. There actually wasn’t much explanation about the world, but that was fine with me, there was just enough to understand these characters’ lives.
Overall, I enjoyed these sweet characters, the queer rep, and the hopeful story!
Anyone who likes depictions of trans struggles but also trans joy, adorable AI, a bit of action, a bit of romance, and hopeful stories.