enne's review

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4.0

Actual rating: 4.1785714285



And I Entreated by Bogi Takács - 4 stars
CW: Verbal cissexism, danger of physical harm due to an accident
I really enjoyed this story and I found it to be a really strong start to this anthology! I loved the conversation about gender in relation to religion and especially in relation to certain religious practices. Also, the nuance with which nonbinary genders were discussed was really nice to see! There’s a point in the story, where one of the nonbinary characters points out that being nonbinary is different for everyone and while certain people may be comfortable with certain things, others aren’t and!! that’s okay!! And listen, I know that’s like,, common sense, but as a nonbinary person, reading that felt really validating especially because that was the first time I’ve seen it said straight-forward and without pushback from any of the other characters. I really loved the world and I thought the concept of the story was really interesting, too? We basically see from the perspective of Shoshi, who has been turned into a plant, as she watches her child prepare for their bar mitzvah. A communications expert is sent to help Shoshi communicate with her husband and child and the story kind of starts from there. The only complaints I really have about this story is that the writing felt a bit unedited in some places, and I thought the world could have been a little bit more well-established, but overall, I really enjoyed this story!

Bigger Than Us by Megan Manzano - 4 stars
CW: Mentions of death
This story was really short and sweet and I really wish it had been longer. Jude knows that she’s bound to manifest powers and have to leave and go work for the Conclave some day, but despite that, she can’t stop herself from falling in love with Mari. So, when her powers do appear, Jude is conflicted. But, surely, seeing Mari one last time can’t do any harm?
This story was only about ten pages long, and I feel like I got just enough to be intrigued by it, but not enough to actually connect with the characters or the world. That said, I’m always down for reading about girls kissing girls and I really love what we did get to see of Mari and Jude’s relationship because it’s so precious and you can tell they love each other, and I just wish we had gotten to spend more time with them. I thought the magic system was really interesting here, too, and it definitely had a lot of potential. I think it all comes back to the fact that we should have gotten more time with this story, and this world, and these characters because I did really enjoy what we did get.

Droplets of Starlight by Vanshika Prusty - 5 stars
This was… amazing?? Showstopping?? I loved this story so much!! This one is set in a contemporary India, if I’m not mistaken, and we follow Payal, as she comes to realize her feelings for a girl who lives next door. There are some quotes from this one that are definitely going to stick with me for a long time because they hit very close to home for me, but we’re not going to talk about those because I really don’t feel like crying right now. However, we can talk about how well the relationship between the two girls in this story was developed and how sweet and precious it is and how I now want a girlfriend, so thanks, I guess. Everything about this story is phenomenal and I cannot recommend it enough.

Godzilla by Kate Brauning - 4 stars
I really loved this one as well! I really liked how it went beyond just exploring whether queerness was viewed as bad/good by religion, but how it discussed how religious people will often use queer people in their church to absolve their guilt over their religion not being the most accepting as a whole. That’s not a topic I see very often (or ever) explored in literature, and I really appreciated it here. In this story, we follow Emily, a bisexual Christian girl, who is dating Rosie, the resident Youth Group Lesbian (her words, not mine). Emily, Rosie, and the rest of their youth group takes the elementary school kids trick-or-treating for Halloween, and along the way, Emily meets Lauren and the story kind of goes from there. I really loved the discussion on more casual discrimination and homophobia that can occur in places that seem to be accepting at first glance. The only complaint I have about this story is that the romance did read a bit insta-lovey to me, but it is a short story, so, there wasn’t really any other way to go about it, to be fair.

Golden Hue by Mayara Barros - 3 stars
CW: Mentions of blood
First of all, this story features a character using xie/xir pronouns, which is something that you literally see in literature once in a millennium, so I want y’all to know that. Second of all, I thought the plot of the story felt a bit,,, underdeveloped. Like there was definitely a lot more room for that to be developed and I thought it could have been done in about the same amount of time, but I don’t think the author was really aiming for a plot-driven story here. That said, I did fall in love with the characters (very easily). And I know I’ve said this about like every single story in this anthology so far, but the relationships were so tender!! and sweet!! and I would literally kill for a girlfriend, so please tell what I have to sacrifice to get one. Also!! there is on-page, explicit demisexual rep in this one and I would also like y’all to know that if that’s something you’re on the lookout for.

How Not To Die (Again) by Gabriela Martins - 5 stars
CW: death of character
I loved this story so much! The concept was really original and creative and I was definitely hooked right from the beginning. We follow a girl who keeps dying and then being reincarnated the following day, only to die again, and she’s tired of it. There may also be another cute girl involved. But our main character definitely doesn’t like here. Nuh-uh. Not at all. So of course, it’s all romantic as fuck. I really enjoyed the development of this relationship and the slow-burn-like nature of it because the author definitely makes you wait and hope for the romance in this one. I love our main character, the most clueless gay of them all, which is honestly the relatable trope in literature. I also really loved the love interest, who’s a gay trans girl!! And she’s also an immigrant and I really appreciated that aspect of her identity as well. All of the characters in this story were absolutely iconic and the premise was really original and I really loved it. It’s definitely one of my favorites from this anthology.

Life is a Story of Change by Elly Ha - 5 stars
I’m not entirely certain if this was nonfiction or not, but it certainly read like one, so I’m just going to review it as one. Which means that inserted here are all the things I usually say before reviewing non-fiction, such as, I don’t read non-fiction ever and I have no standard to measure it by, so I really wouldn’t trust me with this one. That said, I did really appreciate the vulnerability with which the author approached the topic that they were writing about. Reading about someone who was questioning their identity on the asexual spectrum was really meaningful to me, as that’s something that I’m currently going through and seeing them come out of the experience on the other side and be… okay?? was really comforting and validating to see and I just… I don’t know. I really enjoyed this story. It made me very happy.

Nothing Left Standing by C. T. Callahan - 5 stars
CW: mention of domestic violence
I really loved this story! It took me by surprise at first because it’s written in second person, but once I got used to it, I thought it was a really creative format and way of presenting this narrative. It’s about two people who are running away from where they live in order to go to a more accepting place. It’s really interesting because the majority of this story is internal monologue and by the end of it, I felt like I knew the character very well and I actually really enjoyed that.

On The Other Side by Shenwei Chang -4 stars
CW: grief over parental death
I think my one problem with this one was that it took a bit too long to get to the point of the story and I was a bit bored for the first couple of pages, but once we did get to the point, I found I was actually really enjoying what I was reading. We follow a Taiwanese American person who goes to a temple to speak with their dead mother and to introduce her to their partner. I found the way the author tied queerness and religion together in this one really interesting. I also thought that the characters were really well-developed, especially for the amount of time that we got with them. I felt like I knew what they were about pretty early on and that definitely helped me feel more connected to the story.

Read The Room by Sofia Soter - 5 stars
I loved this one as well!! It was so well-written and the relationships were so well-established in the beginning and then developed really naturally over the course of the story and aaah!! We follow Jo, a girl who’s learning how to read tarot, and also a girl who’s in love with her two best friends, but would never tell them that. This story does feature a polyamorous relationship!! I thought reading about Jo’s journey to learning how to read tarot was really interesting. But I also just thought that the relationship between the three friends in this story was really well-written. That was my favorite part of it, if I’m being honest. All of the characters felt really developed on their own, and as part of the group, and I really loved that.

Ten Steps to Becoming a Successful Vlogger by Julia Rios - 3 stars
Look I’m honestly not sure how to rate or review this just because this is so out of the scope of what I normally read. It reads like a nonfiction article about how to become a blogger, except, as far as I can tell, it’s “written” by a fictional person and I mean… It’s good for what it does?? It’s this nonbinary person talking about how they got their start with a channel talking about genderqueer make-up. I thought it was really interesting to read about another nonbinary person’s thoughts on makeup, especially because I’m nonbinary myself. I’m just… not sure how it fits into this anthology.

The Language of Magic by Adiba Jaigirdar - 4 stars
CW: mentions of death
I really enjoyed the magic in this story! The plot did feel a bit directionless for the first 10 pages or so, but after I got the hang of what was going on, I found myself being really immersed into the story! We follow a girl who sees a vision of her grandmother’s death and is now trying to figure out a way to get back to her home country of Bangladesh to see her grandmother one last time. The main character was really endearing and written in a way that made her easy to sympathize with! We didn’t really get that much of a romance in this story, but we did a hint of it, and I really appreciated that the author just left it at that, as opposed to trying to fit all of that into a single short story. I really appreciated how the focus was really more on the familial relationship here because that really shone through. I also really loved the writing and the way the magic was written and developed in this story!!

The Messenger by Mary Fan -3.5 stars
I think it definitely took me a bit of time to get used to the world and get the hang of it, but once I did, I thought the premise was really interesting. We follow this scientist who gets the chance to explore and gather data on alternate earths. I thought that there wasn’t really a necessity for two points of view and we really could have gotten the same story with just one point of view, though. But, other than that, I thought the writing was really spot on and very whimsical and descriptive. I did also really enjoy reading about the development of the relationship and I loved how we follow our main character basically from the day she is born to the day she dies. I thought that was really original and something I hadn’t really seen done in a short story before, but it was executed pretty well with this one.

Whatever She Wants by Kess Costales - 4 stars
This story was absolutely amazing to close the anthology off with! I will say that I wasn’t really a huge fan of the writing and the pacing in this novel, but I think that’s definitely just a me thing, and that it’s not like,, objectively bad or anything. At its heart, this is a very classic childhood friends to lovers story, but also it’s a) sapphic and b) has a lot more layers to it. The exploration of how catholicism and queerness interact was really well done in my opinion and I really appreciated how that was a central part of the main character’s life. I also really loved the way the relationship was developed and the romance was absolutely to die for, but that’s just my opinion. This story was a really strong finish to this anthology.

yourtitakate's review

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5.0

Overall rating: 5/5

And I Entreated by Bogi Takács – 4 stars

I really, really enjoyed this one! Gabhi Martins and her team made a good decision in opening the anthology with And I Entreated because it was a really strong story and did such a good job in telling the reader to stick around!

This one is a sci-fi piece that talks about a mother having been transformed into a plant and witnessing her non-binary child preparing for their bar mitzvah, and how their being non-binary intersects with the necessary ceremonies of their religion, being that these ceremonies are still very much conducted according to binary gender norms. Also discussed is the different ways people might live their truth as non-binary folks, and how all those different ways are valid no matter what other people might say.

Bigger Than Us by Megan Manzano – 5 stars

This one was sooooo good and so intriguing! Honestly? I wish this one was much longer! I’d read a full-length novel in this universe!

In a universe where certain people are born with the powers of their pantheon of deities, the Conclave takes these chosen ones to be trained and serve the country. Like most clergy, they’re not allowed the luxury of personal lives and romantic attachments. The main character, Jude, is all set to join the Conclave and do her duty, but can’t quite let go of Mari, the girl she loves. This story is all about Jude and Mari’s last night together, and trust me when I say that it definitely leaves you wanting more.

Droplets of Starlight by Vanshika Prusty – 5 stars

This short story is one of those utterly simplistic and yet heart-stopping ones that just capture your imagination because of how poignant they are. Droplets of Starlight is set in modern-day India, and is all about a girl named Payal coming to terms with the fact that she’s attracted to the girl next door, Zoya, and how she comes out to her religious parents.

I particularly like this line, from Payal’s mother: “A god who hates their worshippers’ happiness is no god of ours. Our gods love you, Babu, and there’s no person in this world who can say otherwise.”

Godzilla by Kate Brauning – 4 stars

The theme of this short story that I particularly liked is about how sometimes, queer people can be trotted out by allocishet people to demonstrate to others just how open-minded and progressive they are. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure on some level we queer people can appreciate the allies in our life who are welcoming and accepting. But trotting out your token queer friend in an attempt to prove it is a big no-no, and that’s one of the major themes explored by this short story.

Golden Hue by Mayara Barros – 3 stars

This one had bisexual, demisexual, and non-binary rep, as well as xie/xem/xir pronouns! (For another book that uses these pronouns, check out Secondhand Origin Stories by Lee Blauersouth!) It also has a scene where a doctor asks for the patient’s pronouns, which is a sorely needed conversation to be had in the medical scene, I think.

Unfortunately, I think this was one of the anthology’s weaker pieces. I was intrigued by the mythology and world-building, but the characters didn’t capture my attention as much as I wished they had.

How Not to Die by Gabriela Martins – 3 stars

A cute enemies-to-lovers featuring a trans female character! Unfortunately, I didn’t much like how the sci-fi/fantasy element was woven into this story. It was just way too rushed. Not to mention I couldn’t really connect to Josie – mostly because I share the main character Margô’s distrust of Americans moving to other countries. I fully admit that that’s totally on me though.

Life is a Story of Change by Elly Ha – 5 stars

Although this piece felt more like an essay rather than a short story, it actually ended up being one of my favourites. It explores asexuality and aromanticism, being questioning, and the act of labeling oneself. It tackles how ace and aro people might be capable of having and enjoying sex and/or relationships, and how that would affect an ace/aro person’s perception of themselves.

It’s not as much of a short story as the other pieces, but this one was highly introspective, offered great insight, and I’m sure will be a great read for anyone who might think they are ace and/or aro!

Nothing Left Standing by C.T. Callahan – 3 stars

I adored the writing of this piece. It was so short – the shortest in this anthology, I think – but it easily captured my attention and made me want more. However, I just don’t see how this short story really talked about the intersection of queerness and faith, which is why I rated it a 3.

On the Other Side by Shenwei Chang – 5 stars

As an Asian myself, this short story really resonated with me. This one is all about a non-binary person coming out to their mom after she died. They bring their significant other to their mother’s grave, light incense sticks, and say prayers, and there’s tons of discussion and feelings about what could have been done and said before death took those options completely out of the equation.

In Asian society, attitudes towards queer communities vacillate between grudging tolerance and outright hatred – which, understandably, makes coming out to loved ones difficult, if not nigh on impossible. This short story tackles that fear of coming out beautifully, and is, in my opinion, a must-read for any Asian person needing a shot of courage for that fateful talk with their loved ones.

Read the Room by Sofia Soter – 5 stars

Okay, first: TAROT.

I freaking love tarot, okay. I believe it’s such a powerful tool for examination, introspection, intuition, and possibility. One of my favourite tropes in SFF ever is flowery, ornate descriptions of various tarot decks. (In fact, the description of the Deck of Omens from The Devouring Gray is one of the few things I liked about that terrible, terrible book.)

Second of all, this piece was a wonderful getting-together story depicting a polyamorous relationship! This definitely needs more healthy representation in media, especially since it’s still got such a negative connotation. This was cute, sweet, and – pun fully intended – absolutely magical.

Ten Steps to Becoming a Successful Vlogger by Julia Rios – 3 stars

This was an enjoyable read in that if it was an article, I’d click it. However, other than that, I didn’t really engage with this piece as much as I did the others. Maybe because it really lacked a narrative? It was creative, I’ll admit, but it just wasn’t for me.

The Language of Magic by Adiba Jaigirdar – 4 stars

I very much enjoyed reading this, mostly because it felt like magical realism and I absolutely adore that genre. This short story was very evocative, and I do love that kind of writing. However, I didn’t exactly get explicitly queer characters from this one? I could be mistaken, so please do let me know if I am. This seemed like more of a friendship and faith story to me rather than one talking about queerness. I did like it, but overall feel that its placement in this anthology is weird.

The Messenger by Mary Fan – 5 stars

If there’s one place that I really, truly believe queerness in all its wonderful iterations can be explored, it’s science fiction. And Mary Fan just absolutely freaking delivered.

Mary Fan has a distinctively descriptive writing style that lent itself well to how ornate and well-crafted this world is. I would honestly want more from this universe! It follows a scientist gathering data from alternate Earths from the moment she’s born up to when she dies, chronicling her love and her life and the work she was dedicated to. This poetic storytelling is exactly what I’ve come to expect from Mary Fan.

Whatever She Wants by Kess Costales – 5 stars

I am, admittedly, biased – but this was my favourite short story in this entire anthology! It’s very sweet and simplistic, about two girls fake dating and slowly realizing that they have actual feelings for each other, but it also explores an identity crisis that really hits home for me because I’ve experienced it myself: reconciling being queer with being a devout Filipino Catholic.

Catholicism in and of itself is fraught with all sorts of weirdness for Filipinos. On the one hand, it was the tool of our oppressors. On the other, its now also a way for us to connect with our communities and our families, not to mention find some kind of stability in an ever-changing world. Add being queer into that mix, and it’s very often not pretty. But the Filipino main character makes peace with the God that she worships, thinking of Him as love and light and compassion, and decides that her love for another woman is just as holy and pure. It was a message teenaged me would have loved to hear, and it’s a message I want to get across to other queer Filipino teens.

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rivqa's review

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4.0

A lovely anthology filled with sweet and thought-provoking stories about queerness and faith. Some are speculative and others contemporary, which is a mixture I generally find challenging in an anthology, but it worked better here than in others, possibly due to the subject material. A beautiful reminder that there's a place for everyone.

ofwavesandpages's review

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4.0

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I already knew Keep Faith was gonna be epic, AND I’m glad it didn’t disappoint!

Keep Faith is an anthology that puts together fourteen short novels, and all have one thing in common: queerness. The authors are all queer, and this book was meant to explore how they each view faith in a broad sense. I was, admitelly, a bit hesitant at first. I’m not big on reading anthologies, but I was suprised at how easy it was to swift from one story to another. The novels have different sizes and each focus on character development differently, and because they’re overall short, it wasn’t difficult to jump from story to story. It makes the reading experience easier and lighter!

Also, I’m not exactly a religious person. Growing up, faith was always about religion and my mother would make me attend Church and I had go through some formalities, but I didn’t have any pleasure in them, and eventually got old enough to quit. While my mother and grandmother believe deeply in God – but don’t attend Church as much anymore-, my dad’s side of the family doesn’t, and they don’t really care. So it doesn’t play a big part in my life anymore. I was hesitant because this book seemed to be just the opposite of “not a big part”. However, these are the authors’ views and experiences and definitely weren’t massive to read. Besides, not every short novel focus as greatly on faith (as they were put on the synopsis, it isn’t always about religion, unless you want it to be).

anxiousnachos's review

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5.0

I was already tearing up at Gabhi's editor's note, so I think we all know this one is going to be emotional! But what it also is, is an incredible diverse and nuanced discussion on spirtuality. There is such a range of genres and styles, there is a story in here for everyone. So I thought I'd showcase the brilliance of each story with a mini review of each - enjoy!

And I Entreated - Bogi Takács

I don't think I quite realised how empty science fiction is of faith and religion until reading this short story and seeing it so represented. This is a wholly Jewish tale set on a space station, with one of the coolest concepts I've seen in a while: our MC has been turned into a houseplant. I just love that idea!! The mother, now houseplant, has to witness the struggles of their trans kid, clueless husband and non-binary assistant work together in their absence. With nuanced discussion of what it means to be non-binary and how that fits into Judaism, this story was an excellent start to this anthology, both humourous and touching in it's telling.

Bigger Than Us - Megan Manzano

What a sweet relationship!! Jude has just come into her powers, and can now perform magic. Her powers make her a servant to the Goddess Valencia and mean she must leave everything she's known behind to serve the goddess. But Jude doesn't want to leave Mari, the girl she loves. This is such a sweet romance about love, sacrifice, and having faith that the one you love will always come back.

Droplets of Starlight - Vanshika Prusty

"A god who hates their worshippers' happiness is no god of ours."

Oh gosh how poetic and incredibly beautiful is the prose in this story! It felt almost like a dream story for how magical and intense the slow development of Zoya and Payal's relationship was. And what a fabulous discussion of religion and gods and love - wonderful to see this so clearly on the page.

Godzilla - Kate Brauning

"I think people suffer and stagnate when they try to meet other people's ideals. You're a person, not an ideal, and if you think there's purpose and joy for you in following something other people won't like, then screw them. You are the one who has to live your life."

Yes yes yes yessssssss a story with supportive friendships, kick ass feminists who don't want to perform their queerness so you can pretend you're accepting (Y.E.S), about not being enough for anyone, about being you, unashamedly and unapologetically. I really wish I could do what this story says and stop caring what people thought.

Golden Hue - Mayara Barros

Such a different look at faith to the other stories so far! Instead of the religious focus, this was more a look at spirituality, at what happens after death, about how even after death the spirits of our loved ones are there supporting us. With cool magic, including healing magic which I always loooooove, and super fierce beasts!

How Not to Die (Again) - Gabriela Martins

Oooooh this is one of my favs!! It was so much fun and there was a little mystery as Margô the MC keeps dying and waking up a day later, and figuring out why it all seems to revolve around Josie. Super cute development of relationship - both MCs were really well characterised and I had such a sense of who they were even though it's only a short story which always impresses me! Loved the theme of having faith in yourself as well.

Life is a Story of Change - Elly Ha

Ohhhh how I adore books with mental health rep yes please and thank you! Elly Ha's story feels so relatable, it felt very real and honest in how she discussed falling in love and how mental illness, asexuality and aromance adds to this. Some great thoughts on being true to yourself alone and using the definitions which you and you alone feel comfortable with, not forcing yourself into a box just so others understand you.

Nothing Left Standing - C.T Callahan

Well this was emotional! From the very first word to the very last, this story felt oh so impactful and emotional. The despair of the MC, Aaron, was so powerful. This story very much focused on the emotional pain of the MC as opposed to action/plot and I LOVED it for it!! One of my favourites. ♥️♥️

On the Other Side - Shenwei Chang

Another totally different look at faith and queerness, this time all combined with the pressure and grief of not getting to tell a parent who you are, which felt very real and relatable. So interesting to see an insight into the Buddhist faith as well. Throughout this story, you really got a sense of peace, and hope, which was lovely.

Read the Room - Sofia Soter

Oh my gosh, this was great! I loved the poly relationship, loved the nervous flirty behaviour of all the characters, they were all so adorable trying to hide their feelings but totally failing. I also loved the background and concept of telling fortunes with cards to guide the story as well!

Ten Steps to Becoming a Successful Vlogger - Julia Rios

"You matter."

Guh these stories about having faith in yourself really do pack a hard punch. Potentially (read: extremely and 100%) because it's something I struggle with so much. This was such an interesting and different style to all the others, told as if a vlogger was saying this online. It resulted in a very unique voice and I totally could imagine this as a vlog as they were so enthusiastic and genuine in the story.

The Language of Magic - Adiba Jaigirdar

This story just made me even more excited to read Adiba's debut novel next year! This was a mysterious and magical fantasy, about having faith in magic when it calls to you, about believing the unbelievable, all to be with the one you love before it's too late.

The Messenger - Mary Fan

meganreadsx12's review

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5.0

Definitely biased but I love this book and I hope y'all enjoy my sapphic af story about Gods and magic and love. ❤❤

iamrainbou's review

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4.0

I was so excited about this anthology. One, because I love anthologies so much, getting a glimpse from different authors in one place, and two, because of these stories explore queerness and faith. I really liked it, there’s a nice variety of genres and all the stories have this very hopeful tone and message that I really appreciated. It’s kind of hard talking about anthologies so I’m trying to figure out how to review it? But listen, if you like anthologies this is one is a Must.

utopiastateofmind's review

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4.0

(Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Keep Faith is a fabulous anthology featuring stories from authors in all places on their career path. It features stories where queerness and faith can conflict and bloom. Whether it be fantastical, contemporary, or more, Keep Faith is a subtle anthology. With these stories, you are transported to new world. Into new experiences. In conflicts between faith and love, commitment and duty, our dreams and our community.

full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/review-keep-faith-edited-by-gabriela-martins/

lorithereadingfairy's review

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4.0

Y'all I'm crying because I just received this book, and I want to cry. (Please let there be a demisexual character so I won't feel alone)

9/10/19: As of today, it made me cry and there's a demisexual character and an asexual/aromatic character.