Monday 14 April 2014

LGBT April: Ask the Passengers, AS King

Pages: 293
Publisher: Little Brown
Release Date: 10th September 2013
Edition: US paperback, purchased

Other Titles by this Author: The Dust of 100 Dogs, Everybody Sees the Ants, Ignore Vera Dietz, Reality Boy

How do you give your love away when no one seems to want it?
You send it to the sky and hope the right person catches it.

Astrid Jones spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl. Astrid can’t share the truth with anyone else in her life – her pushy mother, uninterested father, and over-interested friends that wouldn’t understand. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection with the people at thirty thousand feet will affect their lives – and her own – for the better.

In this truly original portrayal of a girl who refuses to be labelled, Printz Honor author AS King offers hope to those struggling to break free of society’s boxes and definitions.

I read AS King’s debut, The Dust of 100 Dogs when it was released in 2009 and it was so delightfully weird that I’ve bought every one of her subsequent novels, though it wasn’t until Ask the Passengers that I picked one up. I glad I chose it.

AS King’s writing is beautiful. Everything about it sucked me in and held me there: the characters, the emotion, the language, the pain, everything. I especially loved the snippets of the lives Astrid touched when she sent her love up to the overflying planes. I didn’t expect to get something like that and instead of interfering with the narrative as it could have done, it broadened the story. It wasn’t just Astrid suffering the pain of love, the judgment of her sexuality; she wasn’t alone in her struggles. It made a powerful impact and I just generally loved the stories within a story.

The reaching of the story beyond Astrid continued in her Humanities class. First of all, I wish this class was an option in my secondary school; I would have loved to spend some of my week discussing philosophers, thinking and theories. I liked that it had a strong, solid presence throughout the novel as well – it affected her and made her strong enough to question the reactions of those around her and her own feelings and then act on them. The class affected Astrid intensely; so intensely that she conjured up Frank S. (ie Socrates) in her mind to help her talk through what she was going through. I loved this spike of magical realism in the novel, and he really helped Astrid.

Underneath the beauty and the literary-ness of Ask the Passengers is a seventeen-year-old girl in love and in pain. I can’t count the numbers of times I was made angry by the people in her life for their pushiness, their lack of understanding and how they felt a right to own Astrid’s feelings and actions. Lots of these moments were ones that you don’t realise how bad they are until you see them laid out and happening to other people. King knows how to deliver subtle shocks that alter the way you think, even just for the duration of the novel.

AS King feels like a sort of Meg Rosoff to me. Her work is original, thought-provoking, every book delivers something different, has elements of magical realism and is unfailingly beautiful. And we all know how much I love Meg Rosoff...

Ask the Passengers is a gorgeous exploration to society’s boxes, the need for love, what friendship really is and the power of making your own decisions. I can’t wait to go back and read the rest of AS King’s books.



  1. Aww, I really need to read this book! That Humanities class sounds so cool *wishful sigh* And a character who is talking to Socrates!! I have to see that :D

    Btw, don't forget to link-up your review!

  2. OOh, you're so right and I didn't notice until you mentioned it: AS King's writing DOES feel similar to Meg Rosoff's!

    I recently read this and I think my review is going up on the blog tomorrow? Really enjoyed it though!

  3. Such a fantastic review! i think I definitely have to check this book out, it sounds amazing! Though your comparison to Meg Rosoff is off putting, as I'm really not a fan. But I've heard great things about Ask the Passengers generally, so I think this is definitely one I have to check out. Thanks for the review, Sophie! :)


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