Thursday, May 07, 2015

The Awesome by Eva Darrows

Sometimes you get lucky.

You get to read something special before anyone else, and The Awesome by Eva Darrows is indeed special. I first read it—in a single sitting—years ago, when it was affectionately referred to as a critique partner's "dick joke book."

On the surface, The Awesome is a sassy, crude, hilarious paranormal tale. Maggie Cunningham wants to be a monster hunter, but vampires go bat-shit insane when they smell virgin's blood. So in order to get her license, she has to pop her cherry. Maggie sets out to do so, hijinks ensue and shit happens, romance blossoms, and everyone grows as a character by the end.

But what remains with me long after The Awesome ended is how feminist it is. Oh, it's the perfect book for fans of Supernatural. But it has a thing to say and it says it in a way that would make Janice—Maggie's mom—proud.

Maggie is comfortable in her skin; she's the embodiment of Meghan Trainor's All About That Bass. It is refreshing to read a YA heroine who is. Not to say Maggie never doubts or stumbles, but overall she's confident and she knows what she wants. When you add in her friends Julie and Lauren, you get a look at female friendship and the different ways people can be strong. Not to mention Ian, who is this wonderful and compassionate guy, reinforcing what it looks like to be respectful and caring. (Instead of what Nice Guys think it looks like.)

Stories about young men on quests to lose their V-cards dominant our popular culture. The same can't be said for stories about young women that frankly discuss sex. What I love about The Awesome is how it de-mystifies sex from the female perspective. Losing her virginity is a practical matter impeding Maggie's life; she can't proceed with the career she wants. So she sets out to resolve this in an equally practical way.

To have a heroine who has such power over her body and her choices, and a narrative that supports this agency and choice, is a neon green and pink punk revolution. We need more characters like Maggie Cunningham, and we need more books like The Awesome because of the conversations they begin.

While this won't be for everyone, it's going to knock the socks off readers who have been looking for a story like it. Give it a try. Couldn't you use a little more awesome in your life?

The Awesome is available as an eBook, and a paperback version will be available later this month.

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