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Review #222 // Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens – Tanya Boteju

Kings, Queens, and In-BetweensNima didn’t think things could get much worse after her mother left her and her father abruptly one morning. Then, the straight best friend she’s been crushing on for years denies her and pushes her away, causing Nima to search for a new life that wouldn’t make her seem so boring.


Why this book?: The title alone drew me in, but after recently meeting the drag community, I knew I had to dive into this book ASAP.

I would like to thank Miss Print’s ARC Adoption program for sending me this book in exchange for a review.

I was always curious about drag culture the moment I joined the queer community, mostly because I didn’t really understand it. I was recently dragged (ahah) to my first Drag Show, which was hilariously hosted by my college and our queer and ally organization. Ever since that moment, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on books featuring drag and drag culture. Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens is an excellent introduction to drag culture, as our main character, Nima, is also introduced to it and the people within.

All I really knew about this book at the time of starting it was that it was about drag. I wasn’t really expecting the romance portions. Besides the parts on drag, I adored how relatable Nima and her relationships were. The reader is introduced to Nima right at the peak of a years-long crush, and there is a bit of an info dump to get the reader caught up with the crush and her friendships. While that part is a little boring, it’s not overwhelming. These relationships, the ones from the past and the one’s newly created during the course of this book, were all so realistic and interesting that I couldn’t let them go. Boteju is skilled in creating life-like characters that seem like real people, especially Nima’s parents and guardian figures.

Now, it’s not unknown that I’m pretty picky with my romance plot-lines. When one is shoved in your face right at the beginning of the book, you can bet that I was put off a little. However, it gets so much better. Through her journey of joining the queer and drag community, Nima also figures out what kinds of relationships are good and bad for her. Boteju was able to craft multiple complicated relationships for Nima, and was able to show the complexity of both good and bad relationships and how they can evolve and change. The romance portion of these relationships was just the same, and we were shown both good and bad romance lines that were developed expertly.

My only real complaint about this book is that a few plotlines that were only briefly introduced in the middle of the novel were never really wrapped up. While I can understand why one of them was left as it is, I was also craving to know how one of them would end up. It just felt badly wrapped up, and while I did enjoy the idea of it, it felt like Boteju added it in to complicate Nima’s journey and didn’t add anything to the actual story. And just like said before, there were a few points where Boteju relied on info dumps to fill you in on Nima’s life, which wouldn’t have been bad if incorporated better. They weren’t overwhelming, just boring.

Final Rating: ★★★★½☆

Overall?

Boteju crafted a compelling and complex story with so many interesting and converging plotlines. While a few of them fell flat, I loved the characters and how the author introduced drag culture. It was such an accurate portrayal of the community (at least, of those that I’ve met), and it was so exciting to see someone I related to go through that amazing experience. 

Would I Recommend?

If you’re interested in drag culture, I would definitely recommend this. It shows so many sides to the community, and it was a really fun read. Be aware that there are a few queerphobic characters that use queer as a slur towards the protagonist and another character. 

TW for queerphobia, queer used as a slur, implied child abuse, alcoholism, alcohol abuse, and underage drinking.


Additional Information:

Published: May 7th, 2019

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Page Count: 384

Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary

Synopsis: via Goodreads

Perpetually awkward Nima Kumara-Clark is bored with her insular community of Bridgeton, in love with her straight girlfriend, and trying to move past her mother’s unexpected departure. After a bewildering encounter at a local festival, Nima finds herself suddenly immersed in the drag scene on the other side of town.

Macho drag kings, magical queens, new love interests, and surprising allies propel Nima both painfully and hilariously closer to a self she never knew she could be—one that can confidently express and accept love. But she’ll have to learn to accept lost love to get there.


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