Saturday, April 25, 2009

Book Review: Cycler by Lauren McLaughlin

Book: Cycler
Author: Lauren McLaughlin
Published: 2008

Jill hates that time of the month. The way her body changes, the weird cravings, the sick dreams. No bones about it, turning into a guy for four days each month is terrible. Compared to that, having her period's actually not half-bad.

She's always been able to count on the regularity of her transformations, and on being able to suppress all her memories of life as Jack. But now her cycle is all out of whack. To make it worse, Jack's memories and emotions are creeping into her life as Jill and disrupting the perfect life she’s carefully built up.

Is the world ready for the real Jill--and the real Jack? Ready or not, here they come.

In this novel, McLaughlin asks questions about both gender and sexual identity, and leaves it to us to answer them. What does it mean to be female? To be male? Jill (and her mother) have literally caged away any hint that she does not fall into the rigid pattern of feminine thought and behavior. To them, boys and men (and by extension, masculine behavior) are not merely other, but inimical. They are strange beasts that must be contained.

But as anyone knows, nobody and nothing falls into rigid patterns. Jill begins to be more open to mutability when she falls for a bisexual boy just as Jack begins to fight for his right to exist. (By the way, Lauren McLaughlin, big big kudos for not going, "Well, isn't that handy, someone who can love both Jack AND Jill!" So easy, so wrong.)

When I heard there was a sequel in the works, titled (Re)Cycler and due out in September, I did a happy dance. While the ending is a good one, there are still a number of issues to be resolved for Jill, Jack, and everyone around them. I'm looking forward to seeing how McLaughlin does it.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I'm glad to see you liked this one. I've heard mixed things about it from other bloggers, but I'm looking forward to the sequel too!