Author: Alison Evans
Publication Date: January 1, 2017
Publisher: Echo Publishing
Rating: ★★★★/ 4 Stars
Genre: Sci-fi, YA, queer relationship (more in the review)
How do people decide on a path, and find the drive to pursue what they want?
Ida struggles more than other young people to work this out. She can shift between parallel universes, allowing her to follow alternative paths.
One day Ida sees a shadowy, see-through doppelganger of herself on the train. She starts to wonder if she’s actually in control of her ability, and whether there are effects far beyond what she’s considered.
How can she know, anyway, whether one universe is ultimately better than another? And what if the continual shifting causes her to lose what is most important to her, just as she’s discovering what that is, and she can never find her way back?
I received a free eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Breathing does not stop just because mothers come back from the dead.
Trigger warning: car accident imagery.
I am not the biggest fan of sci-fi, I admit, but Ida had such great potential in its heart and I am a sucker for time-travel in any genre. Overall, I quite liked Ida. It had a unique perspective on parallel universes and the life of Ida herself was so simplistic but was wrecked into havoc due to her ability. However, some aspect of the book felt a bit shaky like they could have been executed in a more polished way.
Ida herself is very likable but she was confusing to understand at times although I felt great sympathy for her whenever she was pushed out of her world and had to scramble around to make do in whatever alternative she ended up in. Moreover, she is on-page plus-size and half Vietnamese on her mother’s side. By the middle of the book, the plot absolutely grips you on to the level where you really want Ida to get help and have her get things in order. The chaos in a way was appealing but it was heartbreaking since it meant that the people in Ida’s life could disappear.
What really got me to love this book is the explicit genderqueer representation of Daisy, who happens to be Ida’s partner. You get the sense that Daisy doesn’t come from a very happy family but there is no mention of them being a victim of violence which I liked because otherwise it would have triggered my own fear of coming out as nonbinary. Ida and Daisy’s relationship is established prior to the beginning and their moments together consist of really soft and fluffy scenes which sell you on how Daisy is an important person in Ida’s life. That alone made me want Ida to get help.
There are two other characters who I could say are genderfluid: Damaris, a woman who is sent on an assignment to sort out Ida’s problem and Adrastos, a man who is also said to embrace a feminine side at times. Although I reference to Damaris as a woman, she is seen from Ida’s point of view as the kind of person who holds themselves like Daisy does, and Ida refers to Damaris as “they” throughout their conversations. The two share a unique relationship too but I wish we got more on them and the work they did because however small snip bits were about about their lives, they sounded fascinating.
There is another character whose diversity deals with gender: Ida’s cousin Frank who is mentioned to wear a binder. He even talks to Daisy about it. The way Frank was referred to was never to accentuate his trans identity and I liked how natural the presence of trans characters were in this book. Definitely #ownvoices representation as Evans uses they/she/he pronouns on twitter.
I would like to see more of Evans since they definitely have interesting ideas that tugged on my heart and it is always good to see such positive and normalized diversity of gender.
About the Author
Alison Evans writes about people who don’t know what they want, relationships and Melbourne. They are co-editor of Concrete Queers, a maker of zines and a lover of bad movies. Their work has been published in various Australian and international magazines, lit journals and zines.