“27 Hours” Book Review

Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother’s shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon’s darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left.

27 Hours is a sweeping, thrilling story featuring a stellar cast of queer teenagers battling to save their homes and possibly every human on Sahara as the clock ticks down to zero.

 

I have to preface this review by saying that I’ve spoken to the author on multiple occasions, and I don’t think she intended any harm by her words. However, regardless of what harm she intended, I think it’s important to acknowledge the shortcomings of this book. This review is not a critique of the author nor does it reflect my personal feelings toward her.

CW: colonization, genocide, aromisia, racism, ableism

Rating: ⭐️⭐

Short Review: 27 Hours is a sci-fi novel with a diverse cast of characters that was almost a great read. While it had its ups and downs between world building, character development, and other major plot elements, it ultimately fell short in the ways that mattered most.

Long Review: Warning – May Contain Spoilers

The Good

If you’re looking for fun, allo queer rep (without any regard for intesectionality), then this book is a good place to start. We’ve got a nice array of gay, bi, and trans characters all given their time in the limelight.

The strongest part about this story were the interpersonal relationships. Between friends/family/found families/and romance, we’ve got a hoard of interesting, emotional relationships to carry you through the story.

The Bad

The POV situation was a mess. We had so many main characters (most of whom got some sort of voice), but they pretty much all sounded the same except for Nyx because her entire character only existed to mope over how she was in love with her best friend. They’re all apparently diverse, but I couldn’t keep any of it straight. The issue is that the only way I could even remember who each character was was by associating them with whoever they were connected to (Jude’s brother, Dahlia’s ex, etc.)

The story is overwritten… like a lot. There are so many unnecessary tangents that drift off into the world of unnecessity that I found myself skimming more than reading anything that wasn’t dialogue. We also have an excessive reliance on pronouns to the point that a character’s name could be mentioned on one page, and five paragraphs later, the story would still be alluding to this same character using pronouns alone despite there being several other characters who use the same pronouns in the same scene.

The world building was sloppy at best. So we have a world where humans colonized the moon and are now at war with the natives, known as “chimera” or “gargoyles”, the latter being deemed offensive. Apparently “gargoyle” is offensive despite the term referring to statues built to fight off evil spirits but “chimera” (which is still not the term that this species uses for itself because we never address that issue) is okay despite referring to a Greek mythological monster. Cool. We’re also supposed to believe that everyone lost their culture upon moving to the moon, yet the language spoken is English and everyone acts American because apparently if everyone moved to the moon, only American culture would be strong enough to survive. Despite all this though, we have Nyx referring to her grandmother as “abuela” which really makes no sense if Spanish isn’t spoken anymore and really cheapens the whole “latinx” culture thing going on, but I’ll discuss this more later.

The Problematic

My number one pet peeve surrounding this book is how people keep describing it as amazing queer rep. Let me be clear: while there is plenty of queer rep in this book, it does absolutely no favors whatsoever to the aro/ace community. Our only ace character (Braedon) can’t seem to figure out if he’s supposed to be aro or ace. His aceness is cheap and continuously conflated with not wanting relationships or not getting people who are romantically attracted to others, which is an aro attribute, not ace. He also says the line “that’s the wonderful thing about me being ace. I will never have The Sex. Like…ever” (63), which completely erases the fact that being ace has NOTHING to do with whether or not you have sex and plenty of aces STILL HAVE SEX.

 

The characters’ marginalizations (esp. race) feel poorly researched and thrown in simply for brownie points. The culture created in this story is one where race and culture are irrelevant (because everyone follows a very Western, USian culture), yet race is constantly tossed up as if it matters. We’ve got mentions of brown skin and families being from X country, but race plays literally no part in how these characters live or think so it’s just a cheap add on. That being said, there were plenty of racial issues that I felt were handled poorly.

 

  1. Where were the biracial characters? It seems like we have one out of the ENTIRE cast. All of these people have been up on the moon for generations, and yet no one had kids with anyone who wasn’t part of their race, which they supposedly don’t care about anymore?
  2. I hated the way Nyx’s being Cuban was handled. First of all, the story talks about her being brown as if that’s just a result of being Cuban. Cuban isn’t a race, and considering that they’ve been on this moon for generations, I find it very hard to believe that whatever melanin was in her ancient ancestors skin just kept getting passed down “because she was Cuban”. Sure, she could be brown, but in that case, she should have some other heritage besides just this distant Cubanism unless we’re supposed to believe, again, that people only married within their own cultures despite culture being irrelevant.
  3. I HATE this idea of culture being irrelevant. Yes, I totally get that living away from your culture for generations will change things, but this digs so deep in all the wrong ways. First of all, the implication here is that diaspora are less of their culture than those born in their countries. Not only is this inherently WRONG, but it basically insists that if you or your parents aren’t from a country, you would just drop that culture entirely, which is gross. Second of all, I know that white cultures may be fragile, but you must not know anything about certain countries if you expect me to believe that they would let their culture die. Japan??? Cuba??? For real? I also think it’s ignorant to think that a common culture would eliminate racism. Black people have been in the U.S. for centuries and people are still racist so no.
  4. Why was the only person challenging colonization white? Why was a white boy lecturing a person of color on racism? Why was this heralded as being educational and right? Why was this another white savior story on two fronts: in that the natives needed humans to save them from “the bad ones” AND that the people of color needed to learn to accept the foreign species from white people who are for some reason more educated on this issue?
  5. TOUCHING A BLACK GIRL’S HAIR WITHOUT PERMISSION ISN’T ROMANTIC. This may have been one of the smallest elements of the story but it pissed me off the most. Just because something is “cute” and “romantic” to a white girl doesn’t mean it works that way for people of color, and that’s something you owe your readers to acknowledge before you start writing. How can you think you’re ready to write black people when you don’t even know that touching a black girl’s hair is heresy? Google “touching a black girl’s hair” and every result will tell you that it’s fucked up. Touching a black girl’s hair is an unfair display of power. It takes away her agency. And it’s FUCKING ANNOYING because black hair can be EXTREMELY difficult to style and then white people go sticking their hands all up in it and ruining everything! DON’T TOUCH A BLACK GIRL’S HAIR.

 

Finally, (because this is already too long and I need to close it off), I just want to address the colonization. It was bad. First of all, we don’t get a POV from any of the natives. A lot of people have spoken on this already, so I just want to say that if you’re going to write a colonization narrative, the least you can do is let the natives speak for themselves and not have white people be “their voices”. I also didn’t appreciate the “let’s hear both sides” rhetoric going on here. The chimera had their home invaded, their people murdered, and their identity stripped from them, yet everyone is acting like the colonist have an equal right to be upset at the chimera for everything that’s happened. The chimera defended themselves, and yet they’re still being seen as the bad guys, or at least, just as guilty as the colonists, and this is completely unfair. Last (but certainly not least) is the issue that the chimera are only seen as deserving basic rights and life after pointing out that they “were intelligent creatures with language and reason. And wasn’t that the basest and easiest way to sum up humanity?” So these creatures who’ve had their home invaded and destroyed only deserve to not be slaughtered by their oppressors because they can be compared to humans. This is like when white, abled, cis, etc. people only care about the marginalized because they’re “the same” as them. It doesn’t matter if people (or chimera) are different than you. They’re living creatures who deserve respect.

Conclusion

Anyway, Yikes. I was excited for this book, but yeah. Not great. I wouldn’t recommend it.