RaveAutostraddleA writer with penchant for lyrical, almost poetic prose as well as a science journalist, Imbler’s hybrid approach of embedding science and reportage in personal narratives and queer storytelling gives them a singular, striking voice ... I was instantly hooked ... While the writing is confident and sharp, Imbler also doesn’t pretend to have all the answers to the questions they raise. These are always my favorite kinds of personal narrative; the kind that excavate the self but also leave room for the unknown ... This is indeed queer science, a playful challenging of what science writing can be. Sea creatures: They’re just like us. Let Imbler show you how.
Sarah Thankam Mathews
RaveAutostraddle... wonderfully immersive and concentrated ... a novel so good I was torn by the incompatible desires to never set it down and never finish it ... the characters’ hopes, dreams, and desires are so fully rendered on the page that it’s difficult not to absorb them ... A masterclass in character development, All This Could Be Different provides a textured view of friendship. It looks at not just how we show up for and tend to the people we care about but also how we fail them ... queer as fuck. And not only in its dating storylines or queer sex scenes but also in its rendering of friendship as every bit as propulsive, impactful, radiant, and heartbreaking as romantic relationships. As every bit as messy as family, too. It is perhaps the greatest depiction of what chosen family really means without ever explicitly using those words ... smart, layered, and often very serious, but it is also very horny (and none of those things contradict each other but rather work together) ... There’s a sex scene involving a car’s gear stick that I don’t even want to describe too much so as not to spoil its wonders, so strange and hot and real. The kind of queer sex I crave from literature, exploratory and revelatory ... Mathew’s prose is remarkable throughout, short, bright bursts of fragments between languid, snaking sentences that surprise ... Whether she’s writing about Gantt charts or economic turmoil or oysters or blue and green or sex or hunger, Mathews’ sentences seduce and swathe. Here is a sprawling novel that’s still intimate at every turn, compacting so much into its shape, like a fistful of sand. And it is a testament to the strength of the character writing that I genuinely feel like I could read about them for much longer, that I didn’t want the story to ever end. But so much of this book is also about eschewing endings, about imagining the future and also recognizing the way other people ripple-effect our lives. So even its ending doesn’t feel like a conclusion so much as an embrace and a gentle nudge forward ... the novel dares to suggest that even within our interpersonal conflicts with each other, there are chances for connection and for growth. We just have to allow ourselves to take them.
RaveAutostraddle[Armfield\'s] sentences are immaculate. But it’s easier to do that in the confines of a short story, harder to pull off sentence-level magic on every page of a novel where there’s more plotting and work to be done. And yet, Armfield has written a novel so chock-full of stunning sentences that that urge to scream needled its way into me throughout my first and second reads of the book. The language in Our Wives Under The Sea is like a fork’s tines moving through perfectly cooked fish: grotesque and lovely all at once, flesh and skin pulled from bone ... For a book so steeped in themes of loss, of grief, of being haunted from within, it’s also full of tenderness and care, too. It’s the best execution of horror-romance I’ve ever seen ... It feels important to note after that particular list that the book is also very sexy ... There’s incredible restraint to the horrors Armfield renders ... Here is a simultaneously bleak and beautiful elegiac novel. It wraps its tentacles around you and squeezes harder and harder until you feel as if you might burst, like grief itself. On my second read, I sobbed at the ending though I knew it was coming and thought of all the people and things I miss.
RaveAutostraddleJustine...haunts with its depiction of an intense kind of young female friendship that blurs desire and destruction ... Justine lives inside that old chestnut of queer adolescence: Do I want to be her or be with her? But even that doesn’t fully convey the full magnitude of the contrasts and contradictions inherent in Ali and Justine’s relationship ... I read Justine in one sitting, because I couldn’t look away from the striking intimacy of this friendship, especially since that intimacy is so consuming and often very bodied ... Harmon brilliantly weaves through the confusing, overwhelming feelings of repressed queerness in these pages ... Contain[s] excellent place writing ... In short, Justine is a tiny book of big feelings. It’s a searing debut for Harmon, whose prose and illustrations are both a captivating mix of spooky and lovely. It’s a quiet horror story in which beauty is a terror and friendship is an undoing of the self. The final line has haunted me long past reading it.