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My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Cycler can’t be read alone. You have to read it with the follow-up, Re-cycler; in my opinion they are one book, and if you only read one, you might leave with a bad taste in your mouth…I think the problem with the first installment is that it is deliberately written from an immature perspective for both characters (the narration oscillates from one voice to another).
Since she was 14, Jill spends 4 days every month as Jack. Yep, every month she undergoes a painful transformation into someone completely different– a boy, complete with boy parts, and boy desires…Jill is terrified of the fact that Jack is a part of her—hence the ridiculous mantra of “I am all girl,” and the way she constantly wears pink and acts like an idiot to get attention from boys. She’s awkwardly playing at all the stereotypical aspects of being a girl because she’s afraid that she’s a freak.
If you only read Cycler, you’d probably hate this book. Jill is insufferable and is seems like there are so many missed opportunities in story to explore sex, gender, and sexuality, not to mention social constructs around all three. If you go on to read Re-Cycler, though, you end up with a much more nuanced picture of Jack and Jill as characters. They grow up a lot in the second book, and they begin to trust and accept that they are part of each other.
They’re not perfect, but Cycler and Re-Cycler will definitely make you think. They’re also pretty steamy, so I’d recommend them for older Teens and Adults who like sci-fi and teen lit.
Other Books by Lauren McLaughlin
Scored “In the not-so-distant future, teenaged Imani must struggle within a world where a monolithic corporation assigns young people a score that will determine the rest of their lives.”
Gemini Bites by Patrick Ryan. ” When their parents announce they are taking in a fellow student for a month, 16-year-old twins Kyle and Judy sit up and take notice. Kyle has just come out of the closet to his family and fears he’ll never know what it is like to date a guy. Judy is pretending to be born-again to attract a boy who heads a Bible study group. And Garret Johnson is new in town– a mysterious loner who claims to be a vampire. Both twins are intrigued.”