Looking for Group, by Rory Harrison
Release Date: April 24, 2017
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Thelma & Louise meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in a brave, timely YA about two teens who embark on a cross-country road trip.
Dylan doesn’t have a lot of experience with comfort. His room in the falling-down Village Estates can generously be categorized as “squalid,” and he sure as hell isn’t getting any love from his mother, who seemed to—no, definitely did—enjoy the perks that went along with being the parent of a “cancer kid.”
His only escape has been in the form of his favorite video game—World of Warcraft—and the one true friend who makes him feel understood, even if it is just online: Nuba. And now that Dylan is suddenly in remission, he wants to take Nuba on a real mission, one he never thought he’d live to set out on: a journey to a mysterious ship in the middle of the Salton Sea.
But Nuba—real-life name Arden—is fighting her own battles, ones that Dylan can’t always help her win. As they navigate their way west, they grapple with Nuba’s father (who refuses to recognize his daughter’s true gender), Dylan’s addiction, and the messy, complicated romance fighting so hard to blossom through the cracks of their battle-hardened hearts.
Pansexual Character (not on page)
This is not a romance. Anyone wanting to read this book is probably best advised to know that ahead of time. Although there are romantic elements throughout the book, this is a roadtrip of self-discovery as well as a story about friendship formed through a little online game called World of Warcraft.
Possibly the biggest thing I liked about this book was that it didn’t assume that the reader would know what World of Warcraft was or, if they did, didn’t assume that they would know any of the in-game content. This didn’t stop the main character, Dylan, from making game references either in his head or with Arden, but every time one was made, he stopped to give a quick description of it. As a non-computer gamer myself, I really appreciated that.
Next, I can’t count the times that people have talked about putting together books where the online friendship between two people is the main part of the relationship between the characters. Well, here you have it. Dylan knee-jerks his way into Arden’s house after shame over not being able to enroll into school because his mum wouldn’t take the time to accompany him as per school rules.
This knee jerk leads him to Arden’s front door and the first time these two have met each other outside of the game they play together. He sees for himself that Arden’s dad is a bit of a transphobe, and suggest they go out on a road trip. Which they do. In the process, they find that they are from vastly different financial backgrounds and that there are some flaws with the ways in which Dylan views Arden in real life.
While there were some flaws with the ways that Arden being trans was handled, they were all in the first person PoV of Dylan who came to better understandings as the book progressed. I particularly loved the way that Dylan comes to understand family, and doesn’t in the end tar everyone’s family/parents with the same brush as his own mum. There was a truly beautiful moment at the end with Arden’s dad.
And then the book ended and I was just WHAT? My main complaint was actually how fast it ended. There were far too many threads left open that I wanted to know, such as how Dylan got home again…
Inevitably, I suppose that some people will compare this book to The Fault in Our Stars because it’s both YA and about a cancer survivor, but honestly I don’t think that there is much in common. That said, people who enjoyed one will probably enjoy both.
Rory Harrison lives in the American Midwest and is sorted into Slytherin. She’s a geek and a gamer: she and pop culture are >>likedis<
You can purchase Looking for Group from:
Barnes & Noble
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.