Monday, 15 July 2013

Review: "Project Unicorn, volume 1" by Sarah & Jessica Diemer

Project Unicorn, volume 1: 30 Young Adult Short Stories Featuring Lesbian Heroines is (as the title clearly states) a collection of thirty young adult short stories featuring lesbian heroines. As ghosts and witches, aliens and vampires, the characters in this extensive and varied collection battle monsters and inner demons, stand up to bullies, wield magic, fall in love, and take action to claim their lives - and their stories - as their own.
Project Unicorn is a project (duh) by the wife-and-wife duo Sarah and Jessica Diemer where each month has its own theme, and they publish two new short stories per week. Each month they put all those eight short stories (plus two longer ones) together and publish them on various online stores. In December 2012 the first print volume came out (volume 1, the book I'm currently reviewing, if you didn't get that). It contains all short stories from the first three months - The Dark Woods, The Monstrous Sea, and Uncharted Sky.
This book is a young adult anthology with 30 short stories crammed into only 270 pages. This means that many of these stories very short, which I found really refreshing. I haven't read that many anthologies, but those that I have read contain much longer short stories and thus not as many. I love reading short stories after a few 400 page books, it's nice to read something that only takes a moment to finish, even though the whole collection could take longer.
The reason I really wanted to buy and read this book from the start was that all the main characters were queer women. The lack of homosexual representation in media is enraging to me, and I'd been looking for books with LGBT characters for a while (thanks to Laura for posting about the Diemer's on tumblr). Out of all the 170 books I've read, there's only three that I can think of that has gay main characters. That's not a big number.
Now, let's talk about something that doesn't make me angry. Almost all of these short stories are fantasy or science fiction, and only a few of them doesn't end happily. I had a few favourites out of all the thirty - Devil May Care by Sarah, and  Natural and Breaking the Ice by Jessica. Devil May Care is about Corrine, who summons a demon - Selimead - to help her find her dog who ran away. I loved how Corrine and Selimead interacted with each other, and I loved the ending (and also that they found the dog, but that's just because I love dogs). Natural is about Terra, who is bullied in school because she's gay, and so she spends a lot of time talking to an old tree. She wishes that the tree was a living girl, so they could have more than just very one sided conversations. What she doesn't know is that the tree has a consciousness and can hear and understand her, but also wishes to be more than a tree - and one day their mutual with comes true. This was my absolute favourite short story, I'm not quite sure why. It was just incredibly sweet. I think it might be because Ash (that's the name the tree gives herself when she becomes a girl) kind of already knew Terra, and Terra has always trusted Ash completely, even though they were just a girl and a tree before. Ash was so uncertain and cute when she turned into a girl, and I can really see in front of myself how Terra is going to take her in and teach her how to live and how they spent the rest of their lives together. There was one short story, though, that some people might not appreciate. It was called In the Garden I Did Not Sin and it was about a daughter of Eve who found her way back to the garden of Eden and met a daughter of Lilith. I really liked it, I think it'd make a great novel, but I know that everyone might not feel that way.
Over all I really liked the first volume of Project Unicorn, and I really hope that Sarah and Jessica put together more of the short stories from this project and make more printed volumes. This was probably my favourite anthology that I've read so far. The Diemer's are very talented writers, and I can't wait to read more from them.

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