A review by thebakersbooks
Switchback by Danika Stone

adventurous dark emotional tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


There are unlikable characters and then there's Ash: the caricature of a gamer nerd who (by his own admission) has left his best friend to be harassed and bullied over and over while he was aware of the situation and did little to nothing to intervene. To be clear, I can and have enjoyed reading protagonists written to be flawed, morally gray, etc., but this was going way too far. When he's injured later in the book, Ash literally needs his female co-protag, Vale, to comfort him about HER OWN BULLYING and him doing nothing to stop it. Mind, some of the "bullying" we witness is literal sexual harassment.

There were so many other issues with this book. The author and the story treated the Indigenous peoples of the area as footnotes in the history of their own land and continually referred to them in the past tense. The writing/editing was poor; sentences would often be repeated almost completely within a page, restating the same information again. There were repeated uses of "lame" and "dumb" to mean "bad," which is ableist. The aro-ace rep in Vale was also basically a caricature; she was the stereotypically sex-repulsed ace and there was never any clarification that there are other kinds of asexuality. I also hated that her parents refused to grasp her not wanting a relationship, even by the end of the book when everyone else had undergone character growth. As an ace (but not aro) person myself, this is not the kind of rep I want.

I did not enjoy this book and do not recommend it to anyone. If you're into survival fiction, there are better stories out there.

content warnings: bullying and sexual harassment by peers; mention of intense online trolling/bullying; aphobia by parents; detailed descriptions of major bodily injury; brief Harry Potter reference

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