I'm a well read grad student who's bluntly honest about all things, although I try to be most honest about myself.
So the eagle-woman - who feels super sexy because DOWN, DOWN EVERTWHERE!!!! And that SEXY BEAK! - has decided that the animal hybrid who is hung like a rhino - because he's part rhino - is going to stay and fuck her because it's been a while. There are some options: it's been a while since she's had sex, since she's had sex with someone with a rhino-sized dick, or since she's had sex with a rhino. There's really no elaboration, but she is SUPER excited about having sex with a rhino-dick, so I'm left to wonder if she's fucked a rhino before.
And this book sounds really fucking weird, and not at all worth it from the way I'm describing things. Crab-dolphin sex, literal trouser snakes, and eagle-woman/animal hybrid sex so far, right? But the truth is this says a lot about AI, has a gay couple, and a transgender character, pokes its head into politics and does quite a bit with mythology as well. (I can find some references to the mythology that is mentioned like Tau, although he seems to be different than the original mythological character. Not only that, while his children are animals, and while he did kidnap, and rape a woman in the original myths, much like he did in this book, he doesn't actually seem to have the same motivations as in the original myths. I believe this was well researched, but that the author was creating another mythology, so I can see some people viewing this as appopriation, something the author herself addresses in the afterward. Yes, I look at the back of books to see how many pages I have left sometimes, just trying to gage how long the book will take to finish. The author says this isn't a book about South Africa, so much as a narrative about her relationship with South Africa. Nicky Drayden is black, but unlike Nnedi Okorafor - who is of Nigerian descent, and says so - I can't tell if Drayden's family history traces back to South Africa. It might explain the feel that, for the most part, this book could have taken place anywhere, whereas Okorafor's books - the two that I've read as of yet - have a definite feel that they take place in Africa. Then again, Okorafor talks about not only her family history, as in her parents were from Nigeria and immigrated to America, but also about the extensive research she's done. She is clearly super-invested in portraying African culture. That isn't to say that Drayden isn't, nor that she should be. This novel just feels less steeped in African tradition and the research I've done so far seems to back up that Drayden is using this as a jumping off point for her narrative. Not that I mind; I loved Quills, based on the Marquis De Sade, and that basically twisted his life into things that didn't happen to make a point about censorship.)
That long parenthetical that I didn't realize would be that long when I started it? It may seem harsh, but this is a damned good story, regardless of the comparisons to Okorafor. They went about their narratives in different ways, but given the small hints of the original Tau in Drayden's Mr. Tau, I again suspect she researched just as much, and just as lovingly, as Okorafor. And here's the thing: as a Jew, who's seen the Jewish folklores appropriated - like in that Supernatural episode with the golem - I care more about a good story than getting the details 100% correct. I don't expect to get a completely factual story in fiction. Furthermore, the back of this book compares this writer to Okorafor and Lauren Beukes - the latter who is South African. (And I'm going to be upfront and honest about it: white. Still, her books - again, the ones I've read - have a strong racial tension in them that probably comes from South Africa's long history of racial tension and feel more South African than this book.) It's just weird to me that this book, the back at least, set up those expectations that it would feel so much like the others - to my mind, naming two authors who absolutely steep their worlds in an African culture sets up an expectation that this one will be as well - and then have it, well, not.
And look, this is still going to be a four to five star book. Depending on the ending, I'm thinking four and a half to five right now. I love this book. All the feels. Even with all the weirdness and the expectations. I will pick up Drayden in the future, definitely. I'm just saying, there's some weird, weird shit going on here.