Act Cool 🏳️‍⚧️ Spoiler Free Review

Title: Act Cool
Author: Tobly McSmith
Genre: YA LGBT+ Contemporary
Publication Date: Sept 7th, 2021
Pages: 352
Publishers: Quill Tree Books

Stay Gold is the second Tobly McSmith book I’ve read this month and unfortunately I did not enjoy this one as much as Stay Gold which I rated 3.5 Stars.

If you haven’t read my review for Stay Gold you can check it out HERE! I will be referencing it so if you want more context I suggested checking it out.

Let’s start with the negative again shall we? Firstly I don’t remember 75% of the characters names. Nearly everyone was so unremarkable that I just haven’t retained the information. So that’s one thing. Now let’s get into the more nitty gritty stuff. Why is a majority of the characters just shitty people?? There is the obvious shitty people that don’t accept our main character, August, because he is Trans. That’s expected but even most of his friends & him at times are shitty.

*This next section could be considered somewhat spoilery though I will not say any names or be too precise. If you don’t want any spoilers don’t read the sections in bold text as they are a little more detailed than the rest.

The thing that ticked me off about August the most was the way he went through crushes/interest in girls. Literally anything that was a cis het girl (except one) he was attracted to. One person was friendly to him and he is after her. Then she isn’t interested so suddenly there is another one there. Oh but that one is in a different room right now? That’s fine there is another girl here and suddenly he is into that one. Like dude chill. Then he some what leads one girl on. He asked her to go to a party and she thought it was a date but instead of correcting her he lets her continue to think that until she catches him kissing some other chick. Dude. Really?!

Next we have the side characters. I don’t remember any of their names so this will be all over the place haha. Firstly I have an issue that is very reminiscent of my issue with Stay Gold. We have a character trying to force another to come out before they are ready! Why?! Literally why?! Both times the person doing the forcing is someone in the community. WHY?! The crisis was averted by August and August kinda calls him out but he never admits it was wrong or expressed feeling shitty for what he was about to do. Firstly this whole relationship ain’t right anyway. It’s like it was written just for the drama as there is bloke 1 who is dating a bloke 2 but also another girl at the same time. Bloke 1 is with the girl openly in public but bloke 2 wasn’t meant to know about this other relationship? He would have to be blind not to notice. So as it is the whole thing doesn’t really make sense anyway. Of course he finds out but the girl doesn’t know and the two blokes. Bloke 2 decides it’s a great idea to go up to bloke 1 and kiss him in front of everyone and the girl and force him to chose between them but also forcing him to come out when he is not openly pansexual. What is with these characters?!

Oh and then there is the chick who is on and off again with her boyfriend but kisses someone else and in the next breathe says she will be back with her boyfriend soon anyway. I’m sorry, what?! I feel like half the book was just for the drama. Home & Away, is that you!?

Okay! Then we just have the issues with the writing in general. August was annoying but mostly realistic. I can’t speak for the rep personally but it seems to be done quite well and shows the struggles in a relatable way. All the other characters were 2D cut outs of characters. There isn’t really anyone that really stands out besides the trans girl (whose name I don’t even remember like everyone else’s) & Anna (whose the only name I remember). Oh and his Aunt. She was quite enjoyable & also quite realistic in her dealing with alcohol addiction & bad coping methods. I honestly think I’d rather read her story at this point.

The book was also kind of character driven, or it least it felt like it should be but then also weirdly plot driven at times. It’s like it swapped between rather than being one or the other or a nice blend. Which was a little all over the place when reading.

Also I couldn’t tell you a single visual description about any of the characters or places in this book. It was so flat outside of the characters personalities. There was no depth or sensory aspect which was kind of weird.

Finally we have the positives. It was quite fast paced & engaging. The cover is pretty. Sorry that’s all I got.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s super important and special to have books featuring Trans rep and especially by an own voices author. There is also people out there that love this book. Unfortunately for me, this was just not it.

Thanks for reading! Eliza