★ ★ ★ ★ ★
It’s a common thing (at least for me) to discover a book, add it to my TBR and want to read it right then and there. Most of the time, fortunately, I don’t have a copy right at my fingertips and so instead I can keep focused on the hoards of books I already have (and am already reading). I discovered Without Annette as a ‘recommended for you’ on my library’s ebook site. As soon as I looked it up on goodreads, I was excited to read it, and with it virtually there in the click of a button, I (of course) started to read. I don’t regret it – not one little bit – but I can’t say it’s helped finish my reading challenges either!
One of my favourite things about Without Annette is how Mason doesn’t make it just a story about lesbian relationship drama. Relationship drama is just a fact of life (whatever your sexuality) and can easily take a backseat to a larger plotline. I’ve yet to find many LGBTQ novels where this is the case, but Mason achieves it here (and achieves it well). Telling the story from the perspective of a single protagonist (rather than alternating between Josie and Annette), Mason is able to better manipulate the reader emotionally, and achieve a stronger whump with the big plot twist (and I’m not just talking about the Penn and Annette scene). I found myself empathising with Jodie all along, even when on an underground quest for shrunken heads (a worringly realistic plotline for such a realistic story), and this made it so much easier to get caught up in her troubles, mimicking Jodie’s experiences through the book. Yep, I didn’t see what happened with Annette coming!
If I had to critique a single thing about Without Annette it would be the title – (that’s how much I enjoyed the book). Mason’s writing is terrific, and I particularly loved her continual (yet not in-you-face) reference to the metaphor of high school as a petri dish. Just think of the amazing titles you could come up with in conjunction with that! That being said, I did like how being without Annette translated into being without a net for Jodie at the beginning – it was quite clever, and I see where the title did come from. But will it be enough to entice in an undecided reader that skims past it on a shelf?
I hold my hands up to say that in no way did I regret abandoning my other books to read Without Annette. It was a great read, beautifully written and (for once) normalised an LGBTQ story to more than just a bit of relationship drama (hurrah!) I can vouch for the book being extremely engaging (having sat down for a 20 minute reading break, and ending up being there two hours later – whoops!) Love boarding schools? Love LGBTQ novels? Love a bit of romance? This book is for you.
Recommended for fans of:
- I Was Here by Gayle Forman
- Undone by Cat Clarke
- The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien