Kelly Haworth

Author of Queer Speculative Romance

Static: A Review


Let me start by saying I am not a book blogger.  I just read this book, Static by L.A. Witt, and I absolutely have to talk about it.  Warning:  Here there be spoilerz.  If you haven’t read this yet, then here is a very quick version:  Go read it, now, it’s awesome.  Okay, let’s get reviewing.

Static is based in an alternative reality where there is a third gender—people called shifters—that can switch at will between male and female forms.  If you know anything about the books I’ve written, this is like taking two of my novels and squishing them together.  So yes, I had to read this.

The main characters are Damon, just a regular dude, and his girlfriend Alex.  Damon didn’t know Alex was a shifter until Alex’s parents forced an implant on him that prevents shifting.  So now he’s stuck as a male, and Damon is faced with an incredibly awkward situation—he’s straight, and all of a sudden his girlfriend is a guy.  How does Damon deal?  And more importantly, how does Alex deal with half of his identity locked away?

There are three things that I absolutely loved about this novel.

First, the premise.  Yes!  I mean, YES!  I absolutely love this concept of shifters switching genders, of course, because I only spent two years writing about a shapeshifter guy who shifts everything from little girls to big crazy monsters and what the hell do you consider yourself when you can be anything?  I am so pleased that so many people have been shocked and awed by the premise, and even more pleased that Witt did an amazing job creating a story where these shifters really felt like an established piece of the world.  The shifters had their place in history, established prejudices, slang, all the needed pieces to make something like this work.  And the way they use pronouns?  Perfect.  I don’t think it could have been done better.  Bravo, girl.

Second, the characterization.  All the main characters are undeniably round.  They have personalities and needs, they are incredibly real and you can imagine meeting them at the local club or wherever.  I can really appreciate this, especially because so many of the characters are LGBT.  Anything that shows not only the reality that many members of the LGBT community face, but how real and undeniably human we all are deserves recognition.  I found myself connecting with many of the characters, especially Alex and Damon, and that always makes for a good read.

Third, the love story.  This was different, in that it was two people that already loved each other trying to figure out how the love is still there when Alex’s gender may be permanently switched.  As stated in the novel, you love a person, not their gender.  I embraced this concept a long time ago, and it’s about time that an opportunity for other people to understand this has come along.  And Witt NAILED it.  She explored all the angles, both sides of the arguments.  What if Damon just couldn’t love Alex as a man?  Could he leave?  Could he force himself to stay?  But wasn’t this still Alex?  The woman he fell in love with, just in a different form? All her quirks there, with some wider shoulders and extra… parts?  Ahh, it was fantastic, and I got all choked up when Damon came to his decision.

I do want to touch on some of the things about this novel that didn’t work for me.

It took Witt a while to get the workings of the world laid out at the beginning.  I had to force myself through the first few chapters, mainly because I saw the potential in the premise and characters, but kept getting beaten down by repetitive and unfortunately boring dialogue.  The story totally picked up though, and I didn’t have that problem again until closer to the end, when the same few questions kept getting repeated by every single character.

There were a few things that were far too convenient, and the plot was disappointingly predictable.  Both Alex and Damon had a support character that had convenient LGBT/shifter knowledge to help them work through problems.  Spoilers, Alex’s little sister was “surprisingly” also a shifter.  And also spoilers, Alex conveniently got his shifting back with little to no issues.  And finally, everyone, and I mean everyone, lived happily ever after.  I knew that Damon was going to fall back in love with Alex, I knew that Alex was going to get his shifting back, and I knew that he was going to get custody of Sam from very early on in the novel, and the fact that Witt didn’t subvert any of those expectations was a bit disappointing.  But I think that may just be the type of story that Witt wanted to tell, one where happy things really do happen to good people.  And that’s fine.  None of it was a deal breaker for me, and I still thoroughly enjoyed the book.

Overall, I am so glad I read this.  It has really encouraged me to keep working on my stuff and get it out there to sit on the shelves, even if they are digital ones, next to books like this.

By the way, you can check out Static here:

Thanks for reading <3

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