Monday, September 10

Crossing Infinity - Karen Haber

Like all her friends, Jaz is hooked into the Surge through her earpods - the Surge tells her what's hot and what's not, minute to minute. She's pissed with her mother, who spends all her time at the Home with her demented grandmother, making her care for her half-brother, and Jaz is a little confused about the guy she's crushing on. That is until she finds the body of a guy half hidden in long grass - well, she thinks he's a guy but it's a little hard to be sure at first.
His name is Cory, a refugee from somewhere (she thinks maybe the Middle East) - he has nowhere to stay until Jaz takes him to the home of the most radical teacher at school, Mrs Sedlow, who agrees to take him in.
Corilanus is indeed a refugee - from a planet where his family and allies are under attack. Unlike humans, Cory's people can change gender, something not easily understood on a planet where we're (mostly) one thing or another.
This is a plot-driven, well-written and interesting novel for young adults that challenges our growing dependence on the Internet and associated technologies (says she who's addicted to facebook), and explores the notion of gender, strengths of each gender (which were curiously human-like for an alien) and the idea of binary sexuality rather than a continuum.
That said, I think more could have been made of Jaz's discomfort when Cory changes genders when they kiss, and I was puzzled by the idea (not fully discussed) that his people do end up with a primary gender. It seems as though Cory changes to female whenever s/he has a strong sensual experience - the scent of oranges, for example - but there was no indication of what would trigger a change from female to male. All in all, though an interesting novel. - Alex

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