Review: Odd One Out by Nic Stone
Courtney Aloysius Cooper IV is in love with his best friend, Jupiter, but there’s not likely to be a Jupe-and-Coop romance anytime soon, because Jupiter is gay. He’s always struggled to accept this fact, but his girlfriends have found their closeness even harder to accept, which is why Coop’s just found himself dumped. Again.
Coop heads to Jupiter’s house to mourn the loss of his latest relationship, but when he gets there he finds her obsessively texting someone called Rae. He’s jealous, a feeling which only gets worse when he meets Rae: a biracial girl with the vocabulary of a dictionary. Rae’s beautiful, funny and smart, and Jupe can see it just as clearly as Coop can.
Rae quickly becomes the filling in the Jupe-and-Coop sandwich, but that doesn’t come without its fair share of issues. Jupiter’s affectionate nature sends Rae into a questioning tailspin. It’s undeniable, her attraction to Coop… But why does Jupiter send her heart racing, too?
“Can’t a person be attracted to a boy and a girl? Is that not allowed or something?”
It took me a little while to get into Odd One Out. When the book starts the story is being told from Courtney’s perspective, and I’m not a huge fan of the ‘straight boy madly in love with a gay girl’ thing. I was tempted to put the book to one side and move on to something else, but so many people recommend Nic Stone’s novels (more specifically Dear Martin, but this was the one that was available at the library so this was the one I went for) that I felt like I’d be missing out if I didn’t give it a proper try.
Although Courtney’s section introduces the story and the other characters, it’s definitely the hardest to read. The slang and informal language feel forced rather than natural, a direct contrast with Rae’s section (which is chock-a-block with words that had me running to Google to check their definitions but felt far more genuine).
Meanwhile Jupiter’s narration was a nice blend of both of them, but stood out the most as each of her chapters corresponded with a different Queen song on her playlist. I’m a huge music fan, so any books that embrace their character’s passion for a band are always going to get a thumbs up from me, and Jupiter’s kinship with Freddie Mercury was well written (and related to the plot, too).
The main focus of Odd One Out is on sexuality, and the changing nature of individual identities. I’m bisexual, so I related to Rae’s inner tension as she struggled to come to terms with her feelings for Jupiter, but I was a little disappointed that other definitions of sexuality were so lightly brushed over. Jupiter makes a point of dissecting negative definitions of bisexuality (specifically the belief that bisexual can equate to transphobic) but only lightly touches upon the ideas of pansexuality and demisexuality, neglecting to properly define them.
Odd One Out is a good starting point for anyone who may be questioning their sexuality, as it includes enough information to encourage people to go off and research the terms for themselves, but this book would have been perfect if it included a glossary or a list of resources for readers. Please correct me if this is included in the print version, as I read a library eBook and am aware that it might not have featured all of the extras!
Have you read either of Nic Stone’s novels? I’m hoping to read Dear Martin at some point in the next few months, so if any of you have read it please let me know whether you’d recommend it.