Steve, a transgender, asexual, and a-romantic teen, lives in an alternate world much like the one today–except for the elves. That and the law (Statute 364, Section 227) that denies both State service and employment to a person under the age of 40 who did not pass all twelve years of school. In his second attempt to pass Year Twelve, Steve bonds with two elves, Heather and Gretchen, because they are all outcasts from society.
Angles & Curves contains a multitude of outlandish escapades: when you think Berger could not add anything more to the novel, he does. For example, elves are gravely affected by chocolate’s aphrodisiac qualities, and Steve solicits a prostitute to impersonate his guardian at a parent teacher conference. All this is combined with contrived dialog as judges, police, officers, and teens swear at each other.
Berger’s lack of tact and thought behind sexuality and gender identity can be disturbing. Steven changes his gender from female by changing his name on a transcript at a new school so that he won’t be bullied. He does not place any other thought into this change: “Pretty much all it took to become Steve was the name change, and a few minutes with a computer, altering my transcript. It wasn’t planned; I just saw the opportunity, and did it because I could” (p. 113). Although Heather and Gretchen are not in a relationship, bisexual Gretchen fulfills straight Heather’s sexual needs as well as protecting her because of a promise to her family.
The rapists of elves go unpunished because elves cannot become pregnant from humans and are viewed as not human. Although there is an outrage toward the rape culture permeating their society, the sheer number of rapes and nonchalant and superficial treatment of the topic desensitizes the subject of rape. The topics of race and racism are also poorly treated.
This book is a difficult read and not recommended.
Reviewer: Shelley Mastalerz
Teen Services Librarian, Burien (WA) Library