Review: Flowers of Luna by Jennifer Linsky

32882682“You are rude,” the woman said, turning back to me, “and slow.” She put her hand on the hilt of her katana. “I wonder if such a slow, rude person has any friends?”

Growing up on a mining ship in deep space was lonely, but now Ran Gray has come to the moon to make a name for herself in fashion. When a chance encounter on Valentina bridge leads to cross words and crossed swords, Ran wonders… will she ever escape her family’s reputation? Did her opponent really just ask her out on a date? And if she did, what will Ran wear?

Flowers of Luna is forty-three kilowords of sapphic romance in a hard science fiction setting. Winchell Chung has reviewed the manuscript for science accuracy and given it the coveted “Atomic Rockets Seal of Approval.

Like a lot of readers, I was really drawn to the concept of Flowers of Luna. NA f/f romance between two Japanese diaspora girls, one of whom is biracial, on the moon? It was an easy decision to pick this one up.

For the most part, the book lived up to what I hoped it would be. The writing was full of fascinating little nuggets of worldbuilding detail–particularly regarding the joint American, Russian and Japanese settlement of the moon–and the protagonist Ran’s chosen career path in fashion thoroughly informed her narration. On that, point, though, I definitely needed to keep Google close at hand to translate a lot of jargon I, being one of the most useless human beings regarding fashion, did not understand at all. Easy enough in this age of smartphones, though. The real-life historical information and illustrations of the twelve body archetypes were also quite interesting.

Linsky’s futuristic universe uses different terms to describe heterosexual, bisexual and gay: polarity biased, parallel biased and mirror biased, respectively. This was pretty cool, though given today’s breadth of language to describe identities that exist beyond this triad, perhaps a little oversimplified. In addition, I really liked the inclusion of an androgyne character who uses xe/xir pronouns in a totally normalised way.

I found the majority of this book to be an enjoyable read, Ran and Hana’s romance and the running gag about Hana’s underwear situation in particular. The romance does escalate very quickly, but I found it was done well, proving that it is possible for romances to develop at speed when in the hands of an author who knows what they’re doing.

However, my enjoyment soured towards the end. I don’t think I’m ever going to be comfortable with the “cheating bisexual” trope, which pops up here. In addition to a remark from Ran complaining about her bisexual relatives acting “morally superior” because they’re bisexual/parallel-biased, I found I couldn’t really like the book as much as I wanted to in the end. I don’t know how the author identifies, but it is possible for bisexuals to display internalised biphobia anyway.

The word “crazy” also crops up a couple times, but it’s definitely not the worst I’ve seen on that front.

It’s also worth putting out a couple trigger warnings for passing mentions of domestic abuse and rape. I don’t think they’re problematic in themselves, but forewarned is forearmed if you’re triggered by either of those things.

Overall, Flowers of Luna was a good read marred by the use of a harmful trope that affected by enjoyment of the book as a whole. Up until the last section, this was shaping up to be one of my favourite reads of the year. I’m certainly not going to fight other bisexuals who were okay with this book, but I did find it quite hurtful personally. I’m a little torn over this, considering this book also includes rep for biracial people, Japanese diaspora people and lesbians, but I’m simply not comfortable with this trope being used in a time when bisexuals still face large amounts of bigotry in both the media and everyday life.

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