Screenwriter/producer Lauren McLaughlin's YA novel debut, Cycler
is just out, and just in time -- this is a book that the kids in your life really need to read, a gender-bending piece of speculative fiction aimed at young people that manages to say novel, useful, and challenging things about gender and sexuality without ever descending into squicky fluid-exchange or soapy romance.
Jill McTeague has a secret: every 28 days, at the start of her menstrual cycle, she...changes. Painful, graphically, her body transforms into an adolescent male form, and her mind is remade as Jack McTeague, an angry, horny teenaged boy who stays locked in Jill's room for four days until she comes back to reclaim her body and mind. Her stepfordwife mom is mortified by this, and bent on ensuring that none of their neighbors in their affluent Massachusetts suburb discover their family's dark secret, and her absentee father (moved into the basement years ago to practice meditation and yoga) is no help either.
Jill does everything she can to pretend that her four-day absences just don't happen, while Jack seethes and rages against his captivity, in chapters that alternate between both points of view. Both characters are flawed and likable, smart but dumb about emotional stuff in exactly the way I was when I was a teenager. McLaughlin does an admirable job of nailing the voice of Jack -- I know that hormone-addled, enraged teenaged boy. I was that boy.
McLaughlin's screenwriting background carries through well, too: the plot is faultless, building from the weird premise (and the concomitant weirdness) to a series of ever-more-desperate scenarios that have you rooting for Jack and Jill even as you facepalm yourself and peer between your fingers at the wreck they're making of their lives.
This is a book about sex and love, and it's got a lot of it -- but not steamy between-the-sheets stuff (though there's some of that). Instead, McLaughlin's sex and love happens between the ears, in the realm of the mind and its contradictory and embarrassing and fickle passions. Through it all, there's always something redeeming happening, some sense that these people might, somehow, muddle through.
I've got a few years before my newborn daughter needs to start thinking about these things, but this is one I'm putting on the shelf for when she does.
Cycler on Amazon
When game critic Jim Sterling uses video clips of the games he reviews on YouTube, the game companies claim copyright ownership of the video and run ads on Sterling’s reviews. He doesn’t like that because his videos are funded by Patreon and he doesn’t think his audience should have to see ads. So what he […]
Dyson Logos’s G+ account is an endlessly scrolling inventory of hand-drawn D&D maps, each one cooler than the last.
Campaigners from Liberty, a civil liberties group, took to the streets of London (and the lobby of the Home Office!) and grabbed peoples’ phones, browsing them while explaining that they just wanted to build a detailed dossier of their lives by looking at their communications, browsing history and location data — mirroring the way that […]
Isn’t it about time to stretch what your Mac can do? I mean, you’ve got plenty of great programs now…but don’t you think you could use some new tools to get your creative, analytical and organizational juices really flowing? It’s spring, so we cleaned up a whole bunch of super-cool apps lying around and packaged […]
In the world of app development, there’s no greater arena to find success than with Android users. About 80% of the smartphones in use today worldwide operate on the Android operating system, so if you build a great app that Android users love, you’re an international rock star. You’ll be able to make sure your […]
Unless you’re a programmer or webmaster, the term SQL probably doesn’t mean much to you. But for those looking to understand more about how and why the web works the way that it does, know this – SQL and its process of managing and presenting large data sets is everywhere…and it’s the most in-demand programming […]