Swans & Klons has already received some reviews that made me really happy. The first one was a very thoughtful and in-depth review from Djibril al-Ayad at The Future Fire Reviews. (The same good people who create the awesome Future Fire magazine also run a review site for speculative fiction from small and indie presses.) Here's an excerpt:
Swans and Klons. . . is a light-hearted, fast-paced adventure in the utopia-turns-to-dystopia mould. The story follows two rebellious young girls, lovers, in a women-only world where all reproduction is performed via cloning, and a life of luxury, freedom, high culture and learning is supported by a large labor-pool of genetically inferior slave workers, as they fight to undermine their own privileged place in this society. . . . [T]his is a strikingly readable novel with appealing characters and an engaging premise that should keep young readers interested, whether the girls Olsen is specifically targeting who “can see themselves reflected in” a queer narrative, or a more general, open-minded readership.
This is a World Without Men (WWM) of one of the classic types: human males were all but wiped out by a genetic disease, and have been replaced by reproductive technologies through which children are created without the need for either copulation or pregnancy. There is a certain Russ-esque cheerfulness to the way the last surviving men from this historic pandemic are casually referred to as “cretinous males”, and the girls in this story have a horrified fascination with the very idea of male sex or reproduction.
The most effective literary dystopia is that which is not obviously dystopian to all, one where an idyllic life for the privileged class is possible not despite, but because of the terrible oppression of an underclass. . . This travesty, only slowly revealed to the reader, is the injustice upon which the cleverly executed conflict of the entire novel is built. . . This is a powerful story, told by sympathetic but not perfect protagonists, and with both truly frustrating challenges and enough optimistic moments to leave the idea that real change is possible.
Nora Olsen lists her goal as writing “thrilling stories and novels [for] LGBTQ teens”, and this novel certainly normalizes the lesbian relationships without fanfare or angst, but I think it’s also an accessible enough story that it should be popular with a general YA readership as well.
The second review of Swans & Klons was from Queer YA. I follow this site religiously, because the reviewer Daisy Porter is very sophisticated, has no time for cliches, and is quite picky, so I can always take her book recommendations to the bank. If she likes it, I know I will like it. (Although if she doesn't like it, I still might like it.) So it means a lot to me that she enjoyed Swans & Klons.
A couple of centuries from now, men are obsolete and society is dominated by women. Rubric is sixteen and in training to become a Panna, or upper-middle-class career woman; she’s served by Klons, who aren’t human but look it; and she’s got a “schatzie” (girlfriend), Salmon Jo. Everything is going well for Rubric until. . . [SPOILERS! Only go read the review of you want to be spoilered.] The advantage of SF is that a world can be built in which lesbianism is the norm and there isn’t any painful coming-out process. Instead, Rubric and Salmon Jo are just people who happen to be in love. Yay.
-Daisy Porter, Queer YA
I'll keep you kids updated on giveaways, readings, and any other Swans & Klons-related goodness.
If you're on Goodreads, consider adding Swans & Klons to your TBR list. How do you feel about Amazon's takeover of Goodreads? Well, you could always switch to LibraryThing or Shelfari. . . oh no, wait, Amazon owns those too. I, for one, welcome our new corporate overlords!