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.