Review by Gabrielle

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“Labels everywhere, and it all seems to be wrapped around genitals. Even down to the clothes they wear, like these jeans and T-shirt magicked with my transformation that feel more masculine than I’d like.

It’s so different from what mer do. We live as a community and focus on energies and love who we want; we share our bodies with whoever it feels right to without obsessing over gender and body parts.“

Stop what you are doing right now and go buy this book. You can thank me later.

Crest is not excited to be on their Journey: the month-long sojourn on land all teen merfolk must undergo. The rules are simple: Help a human within one moon cycle and return to Pacifica to become an Elder–or fail and remain stuck on land forever. Crest is eager to get their Journey over and done with: after all, humans are disgusting. They’ve polluted the planet so much that there’s a floating island of trash that’s literally the size of a country.

In Los Angeles with a human body and a new name, Crest meets Sean, a human lifeguard whose boyfriend has recently dumped him. Crest agrees to help Sean make his ex jealous and win him back. But as the two spend more time together and Crest’s perspective on humans begins to change, they’ll soon be torn between two worlds. And fake dating just might lead to real feelings…

So here’s the thing, I don’t even really enjoy YA as a genre, and I certainly don’t love fantasy, but Jay’s Gay Agenda was one of my top reads of 2021 so when I heard a new Jason June book was coming out, I had to get my hands on it. I am so glad I did.

Reading a Jason June book is like turning your face up into the first day of warm spring sun. It’s like holding hands with someone you love and swinging your arms together as you walk. It’s like snuggling with a beloved pet. In a word, it is marvellous.

Jason June has one of the most unique voices I’ve come across in a long time. With pitch perfect inner dialogue and expertly crafted characters, Jason June’s writing somehow manages to be both nuanced and joyful. We need more reads like this. 

Not to say everything is rosy in Crest and Sean’s world. Like most teens, they are dealing with heartbreak, and issues around identity and belonging. What I love about Jason June’s main characters is that they aren’t jerks, something that is sometimes hard to pull off when writing about teenagers. They are complex folks that may mess up sometimes, but overall are thoughtful, caring people (or mer) that are just generally trying to find their place in the world.

I already mentioned that I don’t love fantasy, but I honestly couldn’t get enough of Jason June’s mer world. I had so much fun picturing all the details in my head. This is quite a bit different than Jay’s Gay Agenda, but of course fans will know about his young reader series Mermicorn Island, so it shouldn’t come as a big surprise to see a mer character in this book. Even if fantasy isn’t your thing, just go with it. I guarantee you will be glad you did.

Sparkling with radiant queer joy, Out of the Blue is a must read of 2022.

Thank you, Harper Collins Canada for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. Don’t worry, I’ve already pre-ordered my own copy.