I picked this one up as genre research to find comp titles for Guns & Smoke. I knew little about it, but I picked it up, anyway.
I saw a video on TikTok of someone raving about how this was an LGBTQ+ feminist novel set in a dystopian/western world. Of course, I was so excited to pick it up!
When the story starts, the main character is a stowaway. She's hidden herself in the cart of the Librarians--women who are permitted to travel the country distributing Approved materials. Immediately, I was interested. I am a huge dystopian fan, so I was curious to see what America looked like in this new world.
Sadly, I was a little disappointed. This story was only a novella. I understand that when publishing shorter works, there is only so much world building that can take place. But it really felt like the author missed out on some key opportunities to make the world into something bigger than just these few characters.
The romance was honestly lackluster for me. Given that this wasn't marketed as a romance, I am totally okay with it. I truly want to feel my character's heart pounding when they're interacting with the love interest, and I didn't quite get that here.
One of my favorite things is that the love interested is a Non-Binary character. Early on, they tell the main character something to the effect of "when we're on the road, I'm they. When we're in town, I'm she." I really enjoyed reading this character. Not only were they funny and well written, I feel like this was a perfect example of seamlessly including diverse characters.
What ended up being the climax of the story felt lackluster as well. I didn't feel a build to this inevitable ending, which really left a lot open ended.
Honestly, I would have liked to see this story as a full length novel with a little more spice. While I wouldn't specifically say this is a good comparison title to Guns & Smoke, it's probably the closest thing I've found to it.