To elaborate, I didn’t really like any of the characters, except Elliott. The world-building makes no sense. (Or, there is no world-building?) SPOILERS Oxygen, where is it? How are they dealing with all the background cosmic radiation? Why are all these random fucking buildings floating in space? When is this set? Men? Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate the idea behind a female run society, but there are children present, and where are they coming from? If females can reproduce without men now, fine, but can you please explain it? Also, how can someone be non-binary if there is only one gender??? There is no other side to the binary to be non-binary about. I also had an unbelievably hard time buying into the premise of the Staircase. It seemed like a fairy-tale creation someone was trying to get me to take seriously END SPOILERS. Maybe it’s just me, but I like my sci-fi to make logical sense, and this reads more like a fantasy dream sequence than sci-fi to me. The dialogue didn’t work for me. It felt very rote and bland (except for Jules, who had character coming out her ass). Also, the art kept me at a remove from the characters, even while the landscapes were visually very stunning. It was hard to distinguish which character was which sometimes.
And the big one that really did me in, the stakes always just seemed very artificial. At points, I just kept thinking to myself, this is dumb. (Specifically SPOILERS when all the people start in trying to murder Elliot–once again, they were the only character I liked–END SPOILERS I just gave up on the book. What was there didn’t do a good enough job establishing the context for any of it, and because I never connected with the characters, I was just fed up with the whole thing.
I also don’t think the book did a good job of selling me on the love between Grace and Mia, you know, the central story in the book. In theory, their arc is solid, but I never felt any of it.
All in all, I’m very sad I didn’t like this very much, because it seems like I should love it. Giving it 2.5 stars, which I initially rounded up, because there were elements I did like (mostly Elliott, except for their half-assed, overly dramatic backstory, but that’s more a function of the other stuff I didn’t like than it is of Elliott). But the further away I get from it, I remember it less and less fondly. And I can tell that it’s probably a “just me” thing, so it probably objectively doesn’t really deserve two stars, but it’s getting them anyway. I really didn’t like it.
Read Harder Challenge 2019: A comic by an LGBTQIA creator.