Tristina Wright: 27 Hours

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 don’t preorder many books. Hell I don’t order many books at all–because I read so dang much, I’d completely trash my budget if I purchased everything I read. I utilize my library hardcore, and stock up on points, gift cards, etc. However, 27 Hours was written by someone I followed and engaged with on Twitter, and I definitely wanted to read her book. I preordered it nearly the second it hit the web.

It’s been one of the most anticipated books of 2017 for many of us:  queer teens in space? Sign me right the heck up. And just look at that cover!

Unfortunately, 27 Hours reads like a Facebook comment section–white privilege abounds. While Wright attempted to make diversity king–with enormous descriptions of her LGBTQIA+ POC characters–the book’s focal point relies on colonization, and even though Chimera are not “real,” in her world they take the place of a marginalized people. Chimera–or Gargoyles, as they are known by the colonists, as a slur term–are blamed for the war, when in fact they are indigenous to Sahara Moon, and are just trying to protect their home from outsiders.

Sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it?

In fact, even the name Sahara is in poor taste, as Fadwa from Word Wonders points out, since Morocco in the Sahara Desert was colonized! It all just feels very dirty, probably because we know the story so well.

There is some challenging done–and I think Wright was trying to tell the story of colonialism through a sci-fi filter. We see a faction of humans and chimeras working together to bring peace, and in this we hear the explanation of what happened across the history of Sahara. We see how things are changing, and what could be possible. But the entire time I was reading it I just kept hearing that white privilege voice in there and thinking…this is what we sound like. This is what our justifications are whenever a conversation like this comes up.

“He’d grown up with war. They were invaders on a land that wasn’t theirs, but his entire generation was born on this moon. In the colonies. In the forest, like himself. It was their home now. What was he supposed to do with that?”

I’m not going to be able to give the best explanation of this, because I am white, and on the wrong side of history here. However, Aimal at Bookshelves and Paperbacks, and Fadwa at Word Wonders have both written incredibly insightful reviews on the subject.

One last thing I want to point out on this book–Wright made a smashing effort to include diversity, especially LGBTQIA+. I think we definitely need more of this in books, and I appreciate that every single character was their own unique personality. However, I think sometimes the character descriptions got in the way of the story. I felt we were constantly stopping to define a label, instead of it being merged in. Maybe because it’s just new in fiction to see such grand representation…we’ll find new ways of incorporating (and accepting) that. I’m not saying don’t wave the flag in my face–by all means, I definitely want to see people of all kinds representated, but I hope we can find ways of merging it into the story a bit more smoothly. After all, we don’t usually have main characters introduced as “Lisa is straight, CIS, and white,” she just is, and we know it inherently based on context.

I don’t typically read a lot of reviews before I go into a book, because I’m afraid it will taint my opinion. In this case, though, I’m glad I did. I may have missed just how deeply the colonization ties went and how harmful they could be. This is a case, I think, of good intentions, but as allies we have to be so very careful when we move outside our lane–and 27 Hours just did not hit the mark.

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