The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things is almost too perfect because she's almost too perfect. I suppose that's the point- that appearance can be deceiving; that she-he-they aren't just what they present themselves as.
Because there's a layer of dark here, yet it's one that's not rendered overwrought. Here, both protagonists operate in a frame of reference that's colored by experience; and while it's the dark that's most apparent, its their response that that establishes how the two are simultaneously different and the same.
The parallels in their experience allow a measure of understanding that grows into something more. It's that growth that adds the sweet. But it's not their sweet nor her perfect, that's remarkable, rather it's how she struggles to be what she thinks others want even as she alludes to this shadow version of herself. It's also how she's so perfect simply because it's the same that's unbelievable and what merits her a closer inspection.
And what is seen? Something unexpected. Someone better than perfect. Is she a Pollyana? Almost, but not really, for despite her optimism, her enthusiam, and selective positivity (that's at times too much,) there's authenticity in her desire to make things better simply because she has known different. There's a context their realitoes are framed in- Sage in her past and Shane, his present. That neither becomes mired in but moves from... and if things progress to fast, if things are too sweet, if she appears too perfect; well, none of those are quite right. And that's fine as well.
thank you, NG!
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