I received a free edition of this book through Story Cartel in exchange for my review, which is very, very late. This hasn’t affected my review or rating in any way. In fact, this book is so awesome that I wish I’d paid for it.
I was incredibly excited about this book. Intersex characters in a dystopian future with the most beautiful cover I’ve ever seen? Oh, I was *in*.
Despite my lofty expectations, this book did not disappoint. At all.
Let me start at the beginning. So Andi, the protagonist of this book, is an intersex “Transgressor”. She (Andi uses she/her pronouns) won’t let the Society assign her because to do so would be to strip away her identity and deny half of herself. She spends her life in the gutter, addicted to Flow, and gets dragged into a plot that will upturn everything she knows. She doesn’t choose revolution: her existence *is* revolution, something that we get to see again and again. All Andi wants is to be herself in a world that wants to forcibly assign her based on rigid gender stereotypes and roles.
One thing that I really loved about this book is that typically protagonists are special in some way: they have powers, or incredible intelligence, or wealth. Andi has none of that. All she has is grit and stubbornness. She’s uneducated, she’s a drug addict, she’s a prostitute, existing on the fringes of society. And yet, she makes a difference nonetheless simply by being herself and refusing to conform.
The writing is incredible. Andi’s voice adds an incredible flavor to the world, her story told in a gutter-slang that often has to be decoded by context. She’s direct and forthright, sparing nobody’s feelings. At times the heavy dialect makes Trans Liberty Riot Brigade a challenging read, but making you work for it makes the story that much more engaging: this isn’t just a book you can browse on autopilot, but it’s worth the extra work to be sucked into this incredibly detailed world with characters that are fresh and interesting. I read it in two sittings spaced apart by a few weeks: while it seemed daunting to go back to, once I was back in I just couldn’t put it down until I reached the final page.
This book won’t be for everyone. The author doesn’t hold back on description, doling out graphic details of death, drugs and sex which really bring home how grim the Society is. I loved it, but some readers might find it to be a little too much. Likewise, not everyone will be able to parse the heavy slang that perpetuates Andi’s thoughts. Those are do, however, are in for a treat.
I couldn’t recommend this book highly enough, and the sequels will be auto-buy for me. L.M. Pierce is an author to watch, because if this is her debut novel, I absolutely cannot wait to see what she will write next.