Thoughts: The Liminal People by Ayize Jama-Everett

liminal people

Taggert, the main character of Ayize Jama-Everett’s debut novel The Liminal People, is one of a growing number of people with supernatural powers, called the liminal people. Taggert’s power is his ability to heal, which also gives him the abilitiy to read body functions, change and stop them. The Liminal People reads like a superhero comic told in a noir prose style. Now, there are a lot of superhero stories in lots of mediums available at the moment, and I’m usually hesitant when it comes to this trope. But The Liminal People gripped me and drew me in, and I found Jama-Everett’s work manages to offer a fresh spin on the genre.

Taggert is part of the razorneck crew in Morocco, hired muscle to the mysterious and extremely dangerous Nordeen. When his ex-girlfriend calls for his help in finding her missing daughter, Taggert asks for leave and flies to London’s seedy underbelly. In a smart move, the author tells the story in the first person perspective from Taggert’s point of view. He presents something of an anti-hero, acting in a morally ambiguous area between his power as a healer and his work interrogating and harming others and liminal people with his abilities under Nordeen. His relationship with his boss is more of master-slave than mentor-mentee relationship, and over the course of the story, Taggert comes to seek freedom and his own version of a family.

In a genre that still loves white characters, a Black superhero main character is a welcome change. And not only is Taggert a complex character but he is furthermore allowed to be an anti-hero. I also loved the global aspect of the book, showing us characters of color as on the move and at home in different countries, travelling and making connections in all of them. The whole cast of characters is diverse and the author’s willingness to adress such issues as racism and slavery is one strong aspect of what sets The Liminal People apart from most superhero stories we are flooded with everyday. Because Taggert’s powers over bodies also means that he is capable of altering his appearance, and so he is very aware of how stature and lightening his skin tone allow for entering different spaces. This is a wonderful perspective from which to comment on issues of race and class. This is how you demonstrate the perspective of characters of color, the everyday issues, without it being the plot of the story.

I may have one or two nitpicks with Taggert’s approach to the female characters but overall this is a strong story with good pacing and wonderful world-building. Having the stomach for genre-typical violence is a requirement but other than that definitely recommended, I am looking forward to seeing this author and his stories grow. The one benefit to always being late to reading exciting books is that there’s already a sequel out. The second book is called The Liminal War and there’s also a spin-off, The Entropy of Bones, available already. This is the second novel I’ve read in a short time that was published by Small Beer Press. I’m happy to see some of their books offered on Scribd, so that I get to try them. I think I need to browse their catalogue!

The Liminal People counts towards the Diversity on the Shelf challenge as well as the #weirdathon.

What’s your favorite superpowers novel? 

Have you reviewed this book? Let me know and I’ll add a link!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading

The meme that we use to share what we read this past week and what our plans are for the upcoming week. Now hosted by The Book Date.

 

Last Week

I’ve had so much fun getting back into reading for pleasure, I started tons of books and hardly finished any at all. But I finished issues #1 and #2 of the comic Faith, which I enjoyed immensely, I can’t wait to find out what’s gonna happen next.

faith

And I also listened to the audiobook of Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me. I chose the book for a funny, light diversion and it was funny at times and I did enjoy following Kaling’s stories, but I think I would’ve enjoyed the book better had I not listened to large chunks of it at a time. Also, maybe this comedian memoir thing isn’t really for me. But objectively, it’s a good book and I still enjoy her show.

mindy kaling

And I also finally managed to post a review of The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendi Huchu.

 

Currently

Yup, I’m definitely reading too many books right now! But they are all so good, I might just be so excited to have time for fun reading! The first two books are my #weirdathon reads, which you can still sign up for till March 15th by the way!

glennkill

Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann

liminal people

I’m making good progress with both of them and I really like that they fit different moods. Three Bags Full is a cozy mystery and the weirdness of sheep as detectives still amuses me. The Liminal People is a gritty X-Men type of story and things are going down! I’ll definitely read the sequel.

Meanwhile I’ve also started And Coffee Will Make You Black, a coming-of-age tale of young Stevie, who grows up Black during the Civil Rights era. So far the book is in turns moving and hilariously funny, highly recommended!

coffee will make you black

Then, I also started a new audiobook: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson. It’s Woodson’s memoir of her growing up between South Carolina and Ohio during the 60s (yup can you see a theme emerging? 🙂 ), written in free verse. Don’t let this scare you off and I definitely recommend listening to the audiobook, narrated by the athor, because it is one of the most gorgeous pieces of writings I’ve ever read/listened to!

brown girl

Reading Plans

Still the same, since I haven’t gotten through my current reads:

dirty river

unnecessary woman

itch planet

What have you been reading? Any special reading plans?

March is #Weirdathon!

weirdathon pic

Yay, I’m finally back to blogging! And my lovely friend Deepika immediately informed me I should join the #weirdathon 😀 It’s such good timing, so I’m in.

Hosted by Julianne of Outlandish Lit, who I stalk on instagram, #weirdathon is about reading all those wonderfully weird books, the weirder the better.Happy blog anniversary btw, Julianne and thanks for such a great event!

Now for the fun part, here’s a list! Well, I tried, I’ve found myself wondering what was weird to me, how much that had changed during the last year thanks to reading more speculative fiction and of course, if I would ever really stick to my list. Here be weird:

mieville

This Census-Taker by Chine Miéville

Now, no list of weird books can be complete without weirdfiction writer China Miéville! This one is a novella and one of his newest I think. It doesn’t sound as weird as his other stuff, but I’m sure it will be super weird anyway.

“After witnessing a profoundly traumatic event, a boy is left alone in a remote house on a hilltop with his increasingly deranged parent. When a stranger knocks on his door, the boy senses that his days of isolation are over—but by what authority does this man keep the meticulous records he carries? Is he the boy’s friend? His enemy? Or something altogether other?”

(goodreads)

glennkill

Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann

Glennkill, the original German title, is a mystery with a sheep detective. Yup you read that right! Also, I’m always down for a cozy mystery.

“On a hillside near the cozy Irish village of Glennkill, a flock of sheep gathers around their shepherd, George, whose body lies pinned to the ground with a spade. George has cared devotedly for the flock, even reading them books every night. Led by Miss Maple, the smartest sheep in Glennkill (and possibly the world), they set out to find George’s killer.”

(goodreads)

liminal people

The Liminal People by Ayize Jama-Everett

Now superhero/-powers stories like X-Men are weird, and weird to me. I haven’t really explored this genre much.  The Liminal People sounds brilliant and dark, though, and I  don’t want to stray too far from my reading people of color goal this year. Also, the book is available on Scribd.

“Taggert can heal and hurt with just a touch. When an ex calls for help, he risks the wrath of his enigmatic master to try and save her daughter. But when Taggert realizes the daughter has more power than even he can imagine, he has to wrestle with the very nature of his skills, not to mention unmanned and uncreated gods, in order keep the girl safe. In the end, Taggert will have to use more than his power, he has to delve into his heart and soul to survive.”

(goodreads)

Are you joining #weirdathon? Also, I’d love some recommendations for diverse weird fiction, let me know in the comments!