Saturday, August 13, 2011

Review: The Touch of Twilight by Vicki Pettersson

I am working my way through this series at a pretty rapid rate because it is enjoyable and each book leaves unanswered questions and problems that need a solution.  Each book makes the world larger but still leaving the reader wanting more.

As much as I like this series I do have a few continuing issues.  This is now the third book in the series and beyond a brief mention in book one, the world is still all White.  This is absolutely unrealistic for a city like Las Vegas and speaks very much to the authors belief in White supremacy.  If you cannot even imagine people of colour, in a world of your creation, it means that we are less than nothing in her mind.  The same erasure of course exists for the GLBT community in this book, with the exception of the following line:

 "I wasn't going to get into a conversation about transgenders with a kid who read National Geographic for the boobies."(emphasis mine) pg. 177

The use of the word transgenders is absolute dehumanizing though not surprising considering how Pettersson through around the word hermaphrodite in the first book. If I find her choice of words upsetting, I cannot imagine how much more so people who are gender variant find them.

Much of the book centered around the fact that the zodiacs get their importance from their mothers rather than their fathers.  As much as this series is about light vs dark it is also matriarchy vs patriarchy.  Often this question does not arise in society let alone the media.  If you doubt it question why it is most children carry their fathers last name and why it is always a concession to add a mothers name using a hyphen.  In much of what Joanna/Oliva does she is directly withstanding her fathers claim on her identity.  When we think of the rise of things like purity balls this can be seen as transgressive. Does the daughter naturally belong to her father until ownership can be transferred to a husband or does the daughter have a right to choose her mother or even herself?  Indirectly I would say that these are question that Pettersson is seeking to explore with this series.

Along the way Joanna/Olivia is not only starting to live up to her legacy as the kairos, she is also finding her place in the world not only for herself but her deceased sister.  In the very beginning of the series Joanna/Oliva is stripped literally of everything.  She lost her sister, her lover, her name, her passion for photography and most importantly life as she knew it.  None of these losses were by choice and were in fact made for her by Warren.  Even as the entire troop is dependent upon her to live out her legacy they seek to control her.  Part of Joanna/Oliva coming to accept her new life is her understanding that her will and agency are of supremacy importance and not a prophecy believed in by others. In this it becomes obvious that though women have many claims on their lives that we all have the power to choose even when it seems like their might not be a choice.

I am very curious to see where Pettersson takes Joanna/Oliva's metamorphosis. The changes have been very subtle but the growth is so very obvious.  The story has thus far been very fast paced and honestly had to put down even when Pettersson fails. Perhaps it is easier for me as a cisgender/straight woman to look past these failures and keep reading but to mind they don't overly detract from the story itself because the world Pettersson has built is not only unique but extremely compelling.


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