Book Review: Ask the Passengers by A S King


4 Stars

This was my first A S King novel. I think what persuaded me to read it is the fact that Ask the Passengers is an YA LGBT Contemporary from a major publishing house – something of a rarity on bookshop shelves.

Astrid is a well rounded main character with a strong and engaging voice, who’s still figuring out her sexuality: what box does she belong in and does she want to fit? So this is a coming of age novel, couched in a few simple Astrid Jones truths: your dad smokes weed, your mum ignores you, you live amongst small town bigotry and your girlfriend is ‘pushy’ during make out sessions.

Although the story was grounded by this dilemma, there was a comedic element as well tied to Astrid’s wit and unique view of the world around her. I appreciated that although Astrid’s family was very dysfunctional it was present; too many YA novels today ‘kill off’ parents in order to give their main character independence – A S King makes Astrid fight for hers instead… (And she does it while sending love to distant plane passengers who get their own guest p.o.v. appearances and with the help of imaginary bestie “Frank” Socrates – yes, the Socrates.)

Why then did I drop a star in my rating? I wanted to be swept away by this thoughtful book, but while A S King kept a sense of the absurd and the magical alive, she never captured my full imagination. Astrid’s ‘answers’ were all so predictable – they aped most LGBT coming out novels. Still, I look forward to selecting another title by her in future.

14 thoughts on “Book Review: Ask the Passengers by A S King

  1. Great review – this was my first A.S. King novel as well and I also gave it four stars. Astrid’s wit kept me on my toes and even though this book didn’t blow me away as a coming-of-age novel, it was still a nice read I’d recommend. Hope you read many more books – and better ones, too – in the upcoming new year!

  2. I’m glad you liked it! The airplane passenger bits didn’t always work for me (sometimes, I felt like they were trying too hard), but overall, I really liked Astrid and thought her experiences and dilemmas were presented in a new and different way. I still want to read some of A S King’s earlier books too!

    • The airplane bits sometimes felt a bit… Educational? Lecture-y? They pulled you away from the story which might have been one of the reasons I didn’t feel 100% sucked in by this one.

  3. I’m such a fan of A.S. King and really liked this book. Glad it worked for you too, for the most part. You make some great points in your review!

    • Thanks, I always try to be honest in my reviews but sometimes putting my feelings into thoughts can be difficult! 🙂 I think this review turned out ok…

  4. I’ve been wanting to read an A.S. King novel for a long time! I’m not sure yet which one I’ll start with, but this one sounds really good – and unique, too. Guest POVs from plane passengers and an imaginary best friend? Just, wow.

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