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This is probably going to be the hardest book review that I have ever written. Loveless by Alice Oseman is a book that I have been waiting for for a very long time. And in one way, it was everything that I had been excited for, which is why this book is a four star read for me, but, unfortunately, it is also a book that had a lot of issues and that if the ace rep hadn’t been so perfect for me, this book probably would have struggled to be given three stars from me. I want to promote this book to you but I also want you to be prepared that it isn’t the most perfect book for everyone.
Georgia is just about to start university and she has never been kissed, an act that most of her peers find hilarious and unusual which causes her to feel embarrassed and lost. She’s grown up on fanfic and romance in TV shows, movies and books. She craves romance but when it comes to her own life, she doesn’t seem to be able to feel it. Then she arrives at university and is thrust into a new place with new people and perhaps a chance to find out a little bit more about herself and who she really is.
The very first thing I want to mention is that I have never seen myself so intensely represented in a book before. I’ve read a few books with asexual rep but never one that so accurately paints me onto the page. And this is why I have rated this book so highly. Because, aside from a few things here and there, Georgia is essentially me, and it felt so thrilling to read her story and realise that I am not the only one who thinks and feels the way I do.
I also found that some of the discussions had in this book were really well presented and actively meant that my friends and I had similar conversations ourselves, learning more about ourselves and about others too. In this respect it’s a very eye-opening read – especially in terms of sexuality and the asexual spectrum. However, it also doesn’t really look beyond Georgia’s own experience of asexuality, thereby not discussing those who are ace but fine with sex nor those that are grey-ace or demisexual. This I found a little disappointing as it felt like there were certainly plenty of opportunities to bring this into it.
On top of this, I started out feeling very happy that on the other side of Georgia there was a character who was sex positive. I liked the balance of this and how the discussions were made that having sex is absolutely normal and absolutely okay – especially as a female. It is okay to have casual sex. There is nothing wrong with being someone who enjoys having sex. This could have been wonderful. Instead, the reason behind this character’s sexual life is dark and dreary – thus removing the positivity to it completely. Add in the fact that the character is pan (not that this is remotely dealt with well either), pointed this to a horrific promiscuous stereotype for the sexuality that didn’t sit well with me.
Lastly, but certainly not least, there was also a non-binary character in the story and I did get a little bit excited again about this. But instead they ended up feeling like an after-thought. Someone to make it feel like the book was being inclusive. This was in part due to a conversation further on in the book where Georgia does not use the correct pronouns and therefore felt like their identity was completely erased. This definitely struck a nerve with my enby self.
Aside from all of this, I also had a slight issue with the ending of the book. Without spoiling it too much, Georgia did some horrible things during the book and instead of really apologising for her actions, she ended up doing something else. Something that reminded me a lot of rom-com endings that I dislike too. A moment that makes it seem like everything can be pushed under the rug and everything can go back to normal when in actuality, trust would need to be rebuilt, if it was ever earned back.
I definitely feel like this review has looked a lot at the negative things in this book but mostly because I want to ensure that it is understood that while this book is a good read, it does have issues. But I did enjoy a lot of the book. I loved the university aspect of it. All of the societies and the way in which people and friendships change and grow during the time. How new people come into your life too. I loved the theatre aspect of it too, especially as drama was a large part of my life when I was a teenager. It is just unfortunate that there were also some aspects that I really didn’t enjoy and that I know others may find issue with too.
So I would recommend this book if you’re on the aro-ace spectrum for sure. Especially if you’re looking for a book that will help you understand yourself more and help you to feel seen. But I would also be wary if you’re not on the aro-ace spectrum as some of the other representations are a little off. This book is a really personal journey for Alice Oseman and I definitely respect that but it just might not be for everyone.