“Do you know the joy of risking our lives to be us? So many people in this world will never know what it means to truly love someone. To truly be themselves. I am proud to say I have been me, I would never wash this off. I will never stop loving you. I will never stop.”
CROSSHAIRS by Catherine Hernandez is an intense dystopian novel that is not subtle with its message but meant to be a booming alarm and rallying cry against racism, ableism, transphobia, homophobia, authoritarianism, and white supremacy. Powerful and timely; CROSSHAIRS is set in a frighteningly familiar near-future that emphasizes the oppression and violence marginalized communities face.
After devastating floods have ravaged Toronto, a fascist regime gains power through fear and enacts the Renovation to return Canada to the True Canadians. The Others – immigrants, POC, LGBTQ2S+ folks, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, and religious minorities – are rounded up and forced into concentration camps. The story centers on Kay, a Jamaican-Filipino queer femme drag queen, and his allies as they join the Resistance to fight against the oppressive regime.
I’m really torn on how I feel about CROSSHAIRS. As with the best dystopian novels, I liked that this story forces the reader to recognize and acknowledge the similarities to our current society. I loved the moments of joy (though few and far between) like the wonderful flashbacks of Kay starting drag and his relationship with his boyfriend and friends. I also thought Hernandez did a great job discussing privilege and performative activism, especially when it comes to white, cis-gendered queer people. My main issue is that the story felt very heavy-handed and at times read like a manual on activism and allyship. As well, there was a lot of buildup to an ending that felt rushed.
Though I had a few issues with CROSSHAIRS, I think it is absolutely wonderful to read a story about proud queer POC characters by a proud queer woman of color. The issues and events depicted in the book may be uncomfortable and scary to read but are so important especially given the recent events happening in the US.
** Atria Books provided the book for honest review
- Title: Crosshairs
- Author: Catherine Hernandez
- Published: December 8, 2020 (Atria Books)
- Genre: Dystopian, LGBT
- Booky Nooky Rating: * * *