A while back I told you all about a little strange dystopian novel called Love in the Time of Global Warming, by Francesca Lia Block. I felt it was a breath of fresh air in the dystopian YA world, with its magical realism, perfectly set eerie mood, and a main cast made up of queer characters. I was surprised to find out that there was a sequel, since it didn’t seem like the sort of book that would be part of a series, but I was nevertheless very excited when I finally got my hands on The Island of Excess Love. Unfortunately, my mood soon turned sour as it became apparent that even though the sequel recaptures the mood of the first book, the narrative sends some very troubling rape-apologist and transphobic messages.
Spoilers for both books, as well as discussion of sex, rape, and transphobic ideas, below.
Let’s start at the beginning. Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block is a dystopian sci-fi story—which is actually quite light on the sci-fi and heavier on literary magical realism, in my opinion, but I’ll get to that in a minute. We follow a teenage girl, Pen, on her quest to find her family through the American Southwest, which has been devastated by a giant earthquake and tsunami. During the course of her journey, Pen picks up a rag-tag group of friends and they have to battle monsters and mesmerizers, which mimic the obstacles the hero had to face in Homer’s Odyssey. And the best part—all the kids are queer and have superpowers!