A review by biblioleah
Any Other City by Hazel Jane Plante
There were a lot of aspects of this book that I enjoyed. The characterization of the side characters was very well done, there were many beautiful lines, and the writing itself was just very genuine and raw. The audio narration was fantastic, and having the author narrate their own book was such a genius move. I did have two main critiques while reading, and the first doesn't necessarily have to do with the book but the marketing. The majority of this storyline explored sex and art and queerness and community. These are all very valid and important themes and topics of discussion, but there is a large shift that happens in the second half where the book becomes pure erotica. Very little plot happens (despite it already mostly being Vibes before) and it is just graphic sex. There are emotional conversations and discussions of trauma, but the fact that this isn't really marketed as erotica is not the smartest move as I foresee a lot of readers going into this not expecting/wanting those graphic scenes. Again, this is not really a fault of the book itself but the shift was jarring enough that I wanted to point it out. The second note I kept having while reading was the story structure itself. It just did not feel like it knew what it wanted to be. The book is split in two parts and they don't feel as connected as I would have personally liked. The switch feels very out of the blue and suddenly we have new characters and relationships we are supposed to care about but we just don't because three pages ago, we cared about completely different people. I also wish that the author either leaned in MUCH more towards the memoir nature of the book or just dropped it completely. This did not at all read like a memoir to me which was a bit disappointing seeing as how memoirs are one of my favorite genres and the concept of a fictionalized one was so fun. It just felt like I was reading erotic literary fiction. Which is fine, and also a genre that could be enjoyable, but the memoir aspects would pop up every now and again and take me out of the story completely. There were only a few parts that were told in the "present" aka the fictionalized collaboration between Hazel Jane Plante and the narrator/main character of the story, and the flow would have benefited from either more of them or none of them. In the end, this was an alright reading experience and I would probably pick up another book from this author, but the execution of this particular story unfortunately fell flat.