Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert – 2 stars – released August 8th
I’m really disappointed. Brandy Colbert is a really talented author and a fabulous person who I have the utmost respect for. Her books have always been a hit-or-miss; readers tend to find them either fabulous or messy. Little and Lion falls into the latter category for me. I have no doubt that many people will love this, but it really did not work for me.
THINGS I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK
—> The complex, multifaceted sibling relationship is a plus. Suzette and Lionel have their disputes, but it’s clear they really love each other. I liked that they were a stepbrother and stepsister, because sibling-ish relationships between stepsiblings are so rare in literature and so common in real life. (Signed, a girl with a stepbrother who she loves like a brother.)
—> There’s also diversity! This is a very diverse book, with a bi and nonwhite main character. The author handles topics of racism, bisexuality, and mental illness without being horribly offensive, which is a lot rarer than I’d like it to be. Another star for that!
—> I’m kind of struggling with other pros; this really felt like just another contemporary to me. I do think Brandy Colbert has a great writing style and a lot of good ideas about the world. She’s someone I’d like to have a drink with.
THE LOVE TRIANGLE
oh my god, a girl and a boy at the same time? emotional cheating? how shocking and revolutionary for bi people. it’s never been done before!! definitely not enforcing stereotypes by doing this in every single fucking book with a bi main character!!
Okay, before I get into stereotypes and how annoying this element was, let me just mention my thoughts on the triangle itself. Neither of the relationships within the love triangle are developed that deeply, period. I felt pretty torn about who I wanted Suz to end up with, but I didn’t find myself caring much. Or, like, at all.
And I have a bone to pick with the cheating involved in this love triangle!! This book gets a plus from me for not involving actual cheating in this love triangle; however, there’s some content in here that comes close to cheating. Look, I know y’all want to pretend emotional cheating isn’t real cheating, but it ticks me off either way. And either way, my point stands that this love triangle element has really gotten tiresome. It’s so tropey.
But that isn’t even the main element that bothers me. What really bothers me is the plot element being so. fucking. stereotypical. Not every bi character has to be in a love triangle between a girl and a guy. To be completely fair, this isn’t entirely the fault of this specific book, but the trend really bothers me. I have quite literally read FOUR books with major bi characters where this happened over the course of the year 2017. IT IS MARCH 15TH. IT HAS BEEN LESS THAN THREE MONTHS. (Since someone asked, the other three books are Noteworthy, It’s Not Like It’s A Secret, and Ellen Hopkins’ new book.)
Also, while we’re at me bitching, please, why can’t someone change the the blurb. This blurb made me think I was reading a cute romance between two girls. Yet the endgame relationship here is a guy and a girl. It’s not bad for a bi girl to end up with a guy – I am all about that. Write a book about Suz and that cute neighbor boy getting together just as she questions her sexuality and I am here for it. However, this blurb implies that the major romance aspect is with another girl, when it’s just not. Not Colbert’s fault at all, but really, the marketing here is completely revolving around the girls when the book doesn’t really go there. I’m getting annoyed by books being marketed as f/f relationships and then not having them. Why not just market this as a story about a bi girl figuring out who she is, rather than marketing it as a romance between two girls?
OTHER REASONS I DISLIKED THIS
news: I’m not always a bitter Bitch!! sometimes I do genuinely also dislike books even if they don’t have such cringey ass love triangles
In general, Little and Lion did not inspire much emotion from me. It’s not amusing or enjoyable. But while it’s intense, I always felt one step removed from the characters. I didn’t hate any of them but I didn’t connect with any of them. Maybe that’s because the relationships aren’t developed enough. The brother/sister relationship is good, but it isn’t developed quite enough to inspire deep feeling. On the same thread, neither of the relationships within the love triangle are developed that deeply, period. Let’s talk about that whole element, because I have a lot to say.
Little and Lion does not seem to know where it’s going. There’s a story about bisexuality here, and a story about identity, and a story about family, and a story about mental illness, and all of those should blend together to form a narrative masterpiece. Yet none of the plot threads are really concluded?? In Colbert’s debut, Pointe, all the different stories and threads tied together very well. But this book doesn’t develop any of the stories quite enough for them to fit. Little and Lion feels like eight novels crammed into one book.
To be clear, I’m not saying we shouldn’t have bi characters with mentally ill brothers in fiction– that’s great and realistic. I want more representation as good as the representation in this book. That’s not the issue. The problem is that Colbert tries to create conflict in a ton of aspects of the protagonist’s life and it… really didn’t work out, at least not for me. The whole thing just feels messyand underconcluded.
Underconcluded might be an understatement. By “underconcluded,” I mean lacking real conclusion at all.Maybe this was supposed to be slice-of-life, but I literally feel like nothing happened in this book besides a really, really overdone love triangle. I mean, if you like slice-of-life, more power to you. But seriously, I don’t want to read a book that is entirely a love triangle. Bye.