Hey all, Dani here.
I’m back with another review for GLBT Book Month. Today’s review also happens to be for one of my most anticipated releases of 2017, so I’m excited to share this with you all. A couple of my favorite shows on YouTube are modern adaptations of classic novels (Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved) so having a book that features a character who is creating an adaptation of Anna Karenina interested me as a lover of literature. And this book’s main character, Tash, identifies as aesexual, which is something I feel like we don’t see a lot of in books.
After a shout-out from one of the Internet’s superstar vloggers, Natasha “Tash” Zelenka finds herself and her obscure, amateur web series, Unhappy Families, thrust into the limelight: She’s gone viral.
Her show is a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina—written by Tash’s literary love Count Lev Nikolayevich “Leo” Tolstoy. Tash is a fan of the forty thousand new subscribers, their gushing tweets, and flashy Tumblr GIFs. Not so much the pressure to deliver the best web series ever.
And when Unhappy Families is nominated for a Golden Tuba award, Tash’s cyber-flirtation with Thom Causer, a fellow award nominee, suddenly has the potential to become something IRL—if she can figure out how to tell said crush that she’s romantic asexual.
Tash wants to enjoy her newfound fame, but will she lose her friends in her rise to the top? What would Tolstoy do?
Rating: 4 stars
This was an enjoyable read. I like stories with this sort of content, you know literary adaptations and such. It’s always fun to see how someone might adapt a beloved classic to the modern era. I have seen this done rather well with shows like the Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved, both of which I have watched all the way through multiple times.
I have read several fandom related books this year, so this book also fit in with what I seem to be enjoying lately. As someone who enjoys conventions and most things geek and/or nerd, it just makes me happy to see the culture represented so much in books and shows and movies.
Of course, I also really appreciated the discussions Tash had with people about her aesexuality. They just seemed so true to life, or what I imagine a true to life situation would be like. Lately I’ve been appreciating the theory that sexual identity is fluid and can change based on where we are in our lives. I related to Tash quite a bit in this book, because for the longest time I felt no sexual attraction to anyone…well, at least anyone who wasn’t a fictional character (I read a decent amount of smutty romance books). So to see a character who still had romantic feelings towards others but just didn’t see them in a sexual manner was really cool.
I’m glad we’re starting to see more representation in books and media these days. The more it happens, the more I feel like the culture shifts towards acceptance. Yes, I think there will likely always be those with more radical beliefs around, but hopefully someday they will be in the vast minority.
My reasoning for the lower rating is because I wasn’t as obsessed with this book as I thought I would be. I suppose I can actually blame that on the fact that I have not read Anna Karenina, nor have I watched any of the movies or mini-series that have been released. That lack of familiarity made me care just a little less about the adaptation.
Still, I really liked this book, and I’m sure if I read it again in the future–after becoming familiar with the source material–my review will probably change.