(Re)cycler: YA science fiction that tackles sex, gender with a lot of smarts

(Re)cycler is the sequel to Lauren McLaughlin's fantastic debut YA novel, Cycler, an sf story about Jill McTeague, a high-school senior who turns into a boy for four days every month. Like Cycler, (Re)cycler is a smart, sensitive story about gender, sex and sexuality, leavened with a lot of wit and sass.

(Re)cycler picks up where Cycler left off, with Jill and her two best friends leaving small town Massachusetts for parts elsewhere. Jill lands in Brooklyn with her pal Ramie (who is also dating her male alter-ego, Jack) and commences to come of age in a setting that is frightening, dangerous, exciting and exotic.

Both Jack and Jill's voices are carried off fantastically in this story, coming across as confused but confident, and both characters grow in ways that are unexpected and extremely satisfying.

There's plenty of YA literature that treats sexuality as a problem to structure a morality play, but McLaughlin transcends cliche, and delivers instead a book that is sexy, smart, surprising and fun, without skimping on the hard emotional stuff.