Monday, January 20, 2014

Reader Response: Luna Pt. 2

Continued notes on my chapter-by-chapter reader response for Luna by Julie Anne Peters.

Chapter Three

The long, italicized flashbacks continue. This one is redundant after the last chapter. I'm of two minds about the father being such a concentrated stereotype. One: it's not quality storytelling this way. Two: readers who are less sensitive to gender expectations and restrictions, or have never felt them to be such a big deal might need to see extremes to become more aware and more sympathetic with those who don't fit into such expectations.

I don't remember this level of disassociation in the nonfiction stuff I read previously. It's not just disassociation with Luna's body, but of treating Liam like a separate person she needs to "kill" to be rid of him.

Luna is being an incredibly selfish jerk to her sister in this chapter. Brood on your own time, not Regan's important test day at school!

Chapter Four

"Our final grade was contingent on how well we worked together, our total contribution. The contribution part didn't scare me, since my share was going to be one hundred percent." I can relate with Regan here.

Is it even possible for teen girl narrators to see a guy and think that he looks nice without melting all over the floor?

Oh wow it just keeps going! I must share some snippets:
"Rock solid, top to bottom." 
"This was a dream. Who was this guy, and how had he penetrated the shield?"

"This guy, this real-living-person-like guy, motioned me to follow him. Which I would have, into a noxious cloud of carbon monoxide probably. He was like, hot."

"His eyes plumbed my depth, causing my internal temperature to soar. Was he checking me out?"

"Meltdown. Massive nuclear meltdown."

"Was it permissible to remark, 'Your hair is gorgeous?' Because it was. Black as ink and silky soft. A shock of it fell across his right eye. The left one seemed to gleam, twinkle, tease me."
Chemistry teacher is aggressively sexist. Shield-penetrating boy comments negatively on the sexism. This is how we know he's a keeper.

Chapter Five

Much appreciation for Luna being so technically inclined in a lucrative way. Are her two self-employed jobs intentionally the kind that don't require going to a social office? Good escape plan once she can leave home.

Please. Can we stop having these flashbacks? It's great that Julie Anne Peters thought up a history of the siblings up to the point of the story opening, but there's this technique where characters in the present talk about what happened before, so the reader's viewpoint doesn't have to go: to the past! And then: back to the present! Or involve reading so many lines of italics.

Despite being a flashback, the entire slumber party scene has been the most genuine-feeling thing that's happened in this book so far.

Chapter Six

Even Regan wants another set of parents to adopt her because "They were a regular family. They loved their kids. Really loved them." She goes on to tell of this other father explaining to their kids about the light spectrum when asked why the sky is blue. Regan's own father had responded to this question by explaining that the sky is blue because God is a boy and that it would be pink if God were a girl. By the way, Julie Anne Peters, *that's* how you handle past events in the present narrative. More of that, please.

This chapter impresses again. Regan is babysitting the young children of her preferred parents and the kids pick out Barbies and G.I. Joe dolls (I mean "action figures") in the usual way. "[I]t struck me how ordinary these kids were. 'They fulfill their gender expectations,' Liam would say. Whatever that meant. All I knew was you'd never mistake Mirelle for a boy, or Cody for a girl." Yes, it's still Gender Studies 101 in Regan's mind, but it's showing her process of *reacting* to Luna's gender theory talk. It's coming to mind later when she sees an example, but she's not totally signing on. This is an excellent way of using the dynamic of having Regan be the narrator in this story. It distances the reader from the kind of direct preaching Luna would probably do, while still putting them in the mind of a sympathetic sister.

Chapter Seven

A purposefully awkward chapter of Luna's mannerisms coming out of Liam during breakfast, with an explanation of how this was learned. It was very suspenseful because of the obvious parental discomfort and also because I assume Luna is lying about weekend plans and am apprehensive about what her actual plans are. Two better chapters in a row. Are we getting past opening-of-the-book jitters?

Chapter Eight

Regan's crush is kind of adorable. Yes, it's yet another YA narrating teen girl falling in love with the first handsome fellow to pay her attention. But it's so over the top that I'm enjoying it. It helps that he isn't giving me the creeps like Tris' Four.

This flashback is fitting for the scene. Regan can't get Luna to open her bedroom door and a particular singer is blasting. The last time this happened, she caught her trying to overdose on pills while dressed in a football uniform. Not the case this time, and I'm relieved that the weekend plan probably isn't going to be a suicide in the new baseball uniform. I think Luna's plan is to come out publicly and "kill" Liam by ruining Liam's reputation as a gender-compliant boy. This would be such a smarter plan than pills. Maybe she'll even do it at the baseball tryouts.

A bit too much of an info dump here. I feel like Luna would have gone on about cross-cultural transgender history with her sister before now, so it came across as "to the reader, not Regan" exposition. Regan freaking out about the notion of a sex reassignment surgery, and trying to cover it up was real-seeming. What this does for the narrative is allow both readers and Regan to have that initial reaction, then guide Regan later toward understanding and bring readers along with her.

Chapter Nine

Not so happy with Regan's new friend. "He clamped a hand down over my head like a helmet. [...] I wrenched away. [...] He looked hurt. 'Just messing with you, Regan.' My name, from his lips. It still made my heart leap. 'I know. I'm sorry.' I smiled." Why the hell is she apologizing and smiling at him for that?! And no, the context doesn't make sense of it. I'm very curious whether Julie Anne Peters is showing a common kind of male aggression and take-it-smiling expectation on women without needing to preach about it.

I do like Regan's plan for starting Luna's public transition. I liked her giving up a date with her crush to keep a shopping date with her sister even more.

Chapter Ten

This chapter is straight-up suspense for Luna's first appearance outside, in a relatively safe environment during a blizzard, but still.

On the whole, recent chapters have been more natural and interesting than the opening of this book. It's a pattern I've seen before and will no doubt see again. Good. Stopping here for tonight because I really want to find out what happens next.

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