Book Review: Simply an Enigma
Simply an Enigma
by Brittany Evans & Chelsea Lauren
Simply an Enigma will always hold a special place in my heart. I say "always" as if I read this book 10 years ago or something, when in reality it only came out last month! I read this entire book at the Cleveland Greyhound Station between the hours of 2 and 7 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Why? Because I was actually on my way to New York City--part of my trip's purpose was to meet one of this book's authors, Chelsea Lauren, in person, because she is the owner of Represent Publishing, which is putting out my new novel Sculpt Yourself--and of course, the Greyhound got stuck in Cleveland for five hours. While most people were upset that our quick bus-driver-change stop had turned into a five-hour layover, I was excited that I had a well-lit place to complete this book before I met Chelsea in person.
And that's one of the reasons I love this book so much: it made five hours in a rock-solid metal seat, in a Cleveland bus station, in the middle of the night, just FLY BY. Well-written prose, relatable characters with interesting dialogue, and a love story worth rooting for will do that to you!
So, for the plot: Julian and Quinn are two high-school juniors who are coaxed into going on a date based on a dare from their friends. These two are coming at the date from very different perspectives. Though Julian's friends talk nonstop about hot girls and sex, Julian has never felt the urge to have sex with anyone, and isn't sure why. Quinn, meanwhile, loves to have sex, and is proud of it--she just wishes that people would stop putting her down with words like "slut." She figures, if guys can enjoy and brag about sex, why can't she? At first, their different approaches to sex cause some dissonance in the relationship, since Quinn's sex drive is so much stronger than Julian's. Over time, though, both characters learn more about who they are, and how their own experiences and perspectives fit into society's perceptions of what it means to be a man or a woman.
There were some things that I absolutely LOVED about this book, so let's talk about those!
First, I thought this book had some amazing asexual representation. I'm hoping this isn't too much of a spoiler, since I know the authors are promoting that this book has ace representation in it, but Julian eventually learns that he is asexual, which is why he hasn't felt the need to have sex that all his friends have. There is a BEAUTIFUL scene where Julian learns what asexuality is. One of his gay friends invites him to the school's LGBT+ club, and they discuss what it means to be asexual. Julian has this moment of realization that what he's been feeling all along has never been a deficiency, but rather just a part of who he is. The way Brittany Evans described Julian's relief was amazing--I felt the same relief he was feeling, and it reminded me of the same "weight lifted off your shoulders" feeling I got when I finally came out as bisexual a few years ago.
I also thought that Quinn's perspective was really well written. Chelsea Lauren wrote Quinn's pieces of the story, and came at them from the perspective of a woman who is tired of the double standards that boys and girls face when they learn about sex. Quinn is competitive and headstrong, and she's not afraid to stand up for herself when her ex-boyfriend calls her a slut.
There was another character in the book, Adrian, whom I hated--but that's not a bad thing. He was a genuinely bad guy, and I'm glad he got what was coming to him. There were many times over the course of the novel when Adrian reminded me of Brock Turner, the rapist from Stanford, because of the way he alluded to the entitlement he felt toward women's bodies just because he was smart and athletic. I was glad Adrian got called out, and I hope he gets some help in the future! (Not that he's a real person, haha, but you know what I mean.)
There was really only one thing that I didn't like about this book: I felt that I had to suspend my disbelief in regards to the characters' ages. Maybe I'm just really out of touch having been in high school 10 years ago, but I definitely don't remember there being THAT much drinking or THAT much casual sex. Sure, there was some here and there, but for these characters, it seemed like a natural part of every day life. I could see their behavior being more in line with college students than high-school students. However, I understand the reasons for setting the story in a high school, especially because the book's messages would be most relevant to a teenage audience who would be struggling with many of the same insecurities that Julian and Quinn had.
Overall, I definitely gave this book 5 stars. I think it's a really important book, especially for its asexual representation, which I haven't seen much of in books before. I think this book does a great job of describing asexuality for those who don't understand it, and I think it's a good book to read if you want to get a stronger understanding of the internal struggles that young women and young people in the LGBT+ community might be facing.
Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it?
You can buy Simply an Enigma here on Amazon, and here on the Represent Publishing website!