I am sure you know the feeling of trepidation when trying out an author all of your friends rave about for the first time. Y’all, I was nervous going into Ask The Passengers by A.S. King. What if I just didn’t get it? What if I’m the odd one out when it comes to books by A.S. King and I just don’t click with it? Seriously, reading books by new to you authors can be kind of a risk. Fortunately, I ended up head over heels for Ask The Passengers and am eager to pick up more books by A.S. King.
Astrid Jones has a secret. She’s got no one to confide in though. You see, her mom is image obsessed. Her dad is off in la-la land smoking pot. Her sister is a bit too focused on field hockey and being popular. So instead, Astrid keeps her thoughts and feelings bottled up, choosing instead to send up her love to airplanes passing overhead. Astrid’s big secret? She’s a Questioning teen with a girlfriend. However, she’s kind of scared to come out because she doesn’t exactly KNOW if she’s gay or not. Astrid also does not want to be pushed into action. She’d rather take her time to figure things out on her own. And so Ask The Passengers by AS King revolves around Astrid coming into her own and figuring out her sexuality in her own time.
YOU GUYS, empathy out the ears over here. Seriously, I felt for Astrid. I have never been in her position, but I could not help FEELING ALL OF THE THINGS from sad, to righteous indignation, to understanding, and finally, hopeful. As a person, I could relate to Astrid in that she’s kind of quiet and fades into the background. She’s a bit of a passive participant in high school life. As hard as it is to believe, I was kind of quiet and shy and not very confident back in the day. Obviously, I’ve changed a lot and I saw a spark of a change in Astrid. We see her going to really giving a crap about what everyone thinks about her, to realizing there are bigger things in life than her classmates’ opinions. Plus, she’s smart and bookish, how could I NOT like that in a character?
What I especially liked about Ask The Passengers was that it explored a part of the GLBTQ spectrum that I don’t often see in YA, the questioning part. Yes, Astrid DOES make an ultimate discovery about her sexuality. I feel like with most of the YA I read though, the character already knows whether they are gay or straight and it’s just a matter of coming out. With this book though, I felt like Astrid really took her time to discover what box she supposedly fits in, and she takes awhile fighting labels and boxes which is kind of awesome. To me, the questioning parts made Ask The Passengers unique, because truthfully not everyone knows whether they are gay or straight or bisexual.
I also found myself a HUGE fan of AS King’s smart writing style. I was kind of nervous going in because I had heard her books were kind of literary, and so I was like um, am I smart enough to read these? BUT YOU GUYS I SHOULD HAVE SELF CONFIDENCE ALWAYS. Seriously, it’s stupid to be scared of a little challenge or to think you aren’t smart enough to try something. And, yo, while there were lots of philosophical references, especially to Socrates, or as Astrid dubs him, Frank Socrates, I handled it like a champ thanks to my COLLEGE EDUCATION. Who knew that bachelor’s would be useful for something. What I LOVE LOVE LOVE about Ask The Passengers were all the references to the allegory of the cave which is a part of The Republic by Plato and something I studied in depth in college. And I just thought the Cave was perfectly woven in with Astrid’s story. Like you guys, what I read was ART. Seriously, I am so impressed and amazed and I wanted to shout it from the rooftops but then was like no, people will think I’m weird.
You would think with all the philosophy that Ask The Passengers would be a slow read but you, my friend, would be wrong. Seriously. This book FLYS by. Like I started reading it while on the exercise bike, as I do with all my Netgalley reads, and then I looked up and was 30% of the way in. Then, instead of setting it down for the next time to read, I ended up picking it up to continue and just whipped through it, devoring the gorgeous writing and not once stopping because I had no idea what was going on or had to puzzle things out.
If you’ve never read a book by AS King before, STOP BEING NERVOUS. Jump on that horse right this second because chances are you will be just like me and be all OMG I WAS MISSING OUT WHY DIDN’T YOU GUYS PUSH THIS HARDER?! Seriously, Ask The Passengers was an utterly BRILLIANT book that was deep and emotional and beautifully written that absolutely resonated with me.
Disclosure: Received for review via Netgalley
Other reviews of Ask The Passengers by AS King:
The Readventurer – “I wish she would stretch her wings of creativity and write about something… fresher.”
Stacked – “A. S. King gets better with each book.”
A Reader Of Fictions – “Okay, it’s official. I think A.S. King is one of the very best YA writers out there”