Sweetheart by Abbey Mei Otis

Sweetheart by Abbey Mei Otis
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (8 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Paxton and the neighbor’s kid are inseparable—sweethearts, even, and Paxton barely six. He doesn’t mind her antennae and clicking mandibles at all.

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It isn’t easy to write an unlikeable main character that readers still want to learn more about, but this author did an excellent job of achieving that goal. As much as I vehemently disagreed with the protagonists thoughts about how aliens should be treated, I wanted to know so much more about where she came to those conclusions and who taught her to be prejudiced against non-humans.

I would have loved to see more world building and character development in this story. We didn’t even learn the main character’s name, much less why she disliked aliens so much or when she first began justifying her prejudices about them so strongly that she didn’t even have self-awareness of this part of her personality. The handful of hints about her past simply didn’t enough details to explain how she turned into the sort of person she did or when humans in general might have changed their minds about how they wanted to treat the aliens living among them.

By far my favorite part of this tale was how it demanded that the reader participate in it. Since it was written in the second person, every sentence almost sounded like a conversation with someone who knew you well instead of the continuation of a fictional plot. I found myself standing in the shoes of a character I didn’t like and seeing the world through her eyes. As uncomfortable as that experience was at times, it was also a great way to encourage this reader to wonder what I would do if I lived in a similar situation.

I’d recommend Sweetheart to anyone who is looking for something thought provoking.

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