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Book Review: The Starving Years

The Starving YearsThis book review is more centered on the author than the book.

I love Jordan Castillo Price. She “bends the rules” of gay romantic fiction. But I couldn’t help but think as I read this great book, that this wasn’t a romance. I’d hesitate to say if it was super explicit or not. It was gay science fiction for sure, but I probably wouldn’t label it MMM, or even MMM Romance.

Why does this bother me? This labeling? Good question.

I think that this labeling possibly affects Price’s image and her work. She’s on the edge of these genres (science fiction and romance), but does she have to be? To me they are just science fiction, and definitely LGBTQ (I’m not going to argue about that label in this post). But is it a romance, let alone a MMM Romance?

I cruised through some of my other gay fiction and read their tags. “Song of Achilles” was definitely a romance, and it had sex. I looked at the tags. “LGBT” and “Romance” and “Fiction”. No mention of “MM Romance” anywhere.

“As Meat Loves Salt” had a “MM Romance” tag. I was a bit surprised by that, so maybe other authors are getting pegged with these labels too.

Every fantasy book I read has some kind of romance. Look at “Wheel of Time”. Rand’s got three freaking wives! Should it be labeled “MFFF” (it isn’t)? Have you read Robert Ludlum??? He doesn’t get a tag and his stuff is explicit.

Maybe we should start labeling het sex books with a “MF” tag.

Again, why do I care?

Well, let’s say that 10% of the Homo sapiens sapiens population is gay (pretty consistent with great apes). That means that 10% of books should be gay or kinda gay too, right? That percentage of approximated gay books probably isn’t true to the actual statistics AND they usually get separated into their own shelves.

Everyone who likes to read science fiction should read this book and reading gay literature should be something everyone does because it’s THERE. But when it gets labeled as “MM Romance” or “MMM”, I’m guessing a lot of people are going to steer clear because they don’t understand what that means, or they assume that they won’t like it.

I’d have labeled this book “Science Fiction” and called it good. The fact that it had some MMM in it was irrelevant to the impressive world and plot. I’m not saying the the romance piece wasn’t somewhat important (the glue that held these three men together), and it definitely had some romance, but don’t most books?

You should read Jordan Castillo Price’s work if you love science fiction, and if you happen to love LGBTQ fiction, then that’s a bonus for you. Check it out. She’ll blow open your mind just like she’s blowing open all the doors to the genre.

Beth BrockBeth Brock lives in Portland, Oregon and has a ferret, a dog, and a husband. She loves Star Trek, D&D, running, reading, and writing.

Note: This review originally appeared on Good Reads, and is reposted with the author, Beth Brock’s, permission.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Starving Years”

  1. This kind of thing has irked me as well. It seems as though most fiction has to have some kind of romantic aspect to it. Now, my stance is that if it enhances the story in any way, shape, or form, that’s good. When it’s mandatory, or when the author feels that it is, the story loses itself.

    This seems to apply a whole lot more to the LGBT genre of literature and film. The bulk of the plot seems to be about romance and/or sex, whether or not that’s what the story is truly about.

    Eh, maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. At least they aren’t burning people who write LGBT material anymore.

    For now, anyway.

  2. I love Jordan’s books. Zero Hour? One of my favorites. Her world building is fantastic. I still haven’t read this one, but it’s been on my Kindle for ages.

    As for the labels, I agree that it’s unfair that M/F romances are just labeled as romances while M/M romances have a separate label. At the same time, I want to be able to find the M/M romances without having to sludge through the millions of M/F romances out there. As things are now, the M/M titles would get dunked underwater and never resurface. I think that’s probably what the booksellers are thinking as well.

    The M/M books have been growing at such a rate over the past few years that the booksellers have finally started separating M/M from erotica. It wasn’t along ago when anything M/M was lumped as erotica. At least we now have separate M/M Erotica and M/M Romance. What I’d really wish the sales site had were like a cross-search, so you could tick several options, like M/M, Romance, Sci-Fi, post-apocalyptic, and you’d get a list of the books that fit into all those categories.


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