Review: ‘Weightless’ by ian.

I deserve my life
As much as everyone else
And I will not
Let anyone else
Take what they want
From me.

Rating:

4.5/5 paper planes

What’s This Book About?

Genre: Narrative poetry (YA contemporary)

Synopsis: If I stand still,
If I close my eyes,
I can see the empty sky
Open
Endless
Free.

Kitten has almost made it through high school, until they get drugged at a party. Kitten’s entire life is turned upside down when the perpetrators make the violation public. With help from one true friend, Kitten goes on the hunt for answers, learns who their real friends are, and finds a reason to keep living.

What I Thought:

This was the first narrative poetry book I’ve ever read, and to say it was raw and vivid is an understatement. I had a strong visceral reaction to certain scenes – literally clenching my fists and had to breathe deep to calm down. Even though this book gets incredibly dark sometimes (TW for sexual assault), Kitten does recover and it was really emotionally satisfying to follow their personal journey. I even chuckled every now and then, so this book definitely has both light and heavy moments. Through the reactions of Kitten’s peers and teachers after her traumatic experience, ‘Weightless’ portrays how irrational and unhelpful victim-blaming is, and through different characters’ approaches to helping Kitten, this book also strikingly juxtaposes two forms of ‘love’.

“Everyone’s sorry.
But no one
Really
Is sorry.
They act like they have sympathy
But it’s only pity
People still look and stare
Act like everything’s fine
But talk and joke behind my back.
You’re sorry,
“My trauma…
They don’t matter
For what it’s worth
I’m the one wearing
The scarlet letter.

Most times the poetry storytelling mode worked well, other times less so. Despite the odd moments where the narrative voice felt a little disjointed and jerky, overall ‘Weightless’ was easy to read – well, technically easy (I read it in one sitting); the content itself was harder to stomach.

‘Weightless also had a surprising number of shocking twists! There was an excellently subtle buildup to a totally unexpected plot development – I won’t elaborate too much for fear of spoilers, but suffice to say that I was getting ‘One of Us is Lying’/’Two Can Keep a Secret’ murder-mystery-thriller vibes. I am actually dying for a sequel! The ending and true nature of one of the characters were presented to me in a bombshell cushioned in soft words and gentle caresses but I SEE YOU! I need to know what happens next! (But I will also grudgingly accept this artistic form of torture.) The nicknames (or real names?) of the characters were also intriguing – our (non-binary) protagonist is called Kitten, and her classmates had names like King, Puppy, Ghost, Tiger, Glasses and so on.

‘Weightless’ is a story both harrowing and hopeful, and certainly has important things to share. What happened to Kitten is horrifying, yes, but it’s not horror of the supernatural sort – this evil belongs to this world and it’s essential that we engage with and remember stories like Kitten’s, and challenge the rape culture that still permeates our societies today.

Thank you to Enchanted Woods Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Thanks for reading! Have you heard about ‘Weightless’? Do you read narrative poetry? Let me know in the comments!

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