Steady Beat, Volume 2, is a continuation of the story from Steady Beat, Volume 1 (well, duh…). At the end of my review of the first volume, I wrote, “…I think it might be worth emailing the author Rivkah and asking her to make sure the girl gets the girl, as a preventative measure.”^_^
Well, after reading Volume 2, I went ahead and emailed the author. And here is why.
Volume 2 continues to be “wackiness ensues” as Leah tries to learn the gasp-making truth about her “perfect” sister, Sarai. (I will return to this in a second.)
During the course of this wackiness, we follow Leah as she becomes closer to a possible new love interest, Eli. Who would be extremely fine as a love interest if he weren’t seventy different minorities all rolled into one. That is to say, he *is* a fine love interest and kind of cute, if he shut up once in a while. But, I found it a tad exhausting that he’s a half-Jewish, half-black son of a gay Dad. The only thing he’s missing is being wheelchair bound. And part Native American. It was a just a bit of too much.
Which is pretty much the major weakness of the entire series so far – Rivkah is working so hard at making it celebration of diversity and love, that it comes off as trying a *wee* too hard throughout.
But let us return to the plot – the great mystery of whether Sarai is gay or not.
(Wait a second, something just occurred to me. Isn’t Sarai the Student Council president? Somehow I remember that she is. Score another for the stereotype! Boo-yah! )
…Anyway, when Leah finally catches up to Sarai, the truth appears to be exactly what she thought/feared – her perfect, flawless, overacheiving older sister is in fact…gay! Shock! This wouldn’t be much of a plot if Leah and Sarai didn’t belong to a strict Christian family in the middle of Texas. Except that, as we’re given a travelogue of Austin, we learn that it’s really pretty collegiate and liberal for a Texas city. So we’re back to it not being much of a plot complication…unless it *isn’t* the plot complication. So by the time I finshed the book, because I have a chronic case of “advanced student syndrome” and can’t take things at face value, I broke down and wrote the author.
I can’t tell you what she told me without spoilers. ^_^ Which is it? Do you want to know what she said? Or not? Write in – the majority vote wins.
The series is not bad, really. The art, while manga-informed, has as much in common with Archie as it does with manga. The characters are likeable, if a teeny bit preachy. The tone lacks condescension, but has a bit of that “Look, this is a teen book, for teens, starring a teen!” feel that occasionally inhabits teen lit. But I also think that the tone is a fairly natural one for the author, who seems like a genuinely happy sort of person. Maybe it’s just that I’m naturally more, erm, pragmatic…or east coastern, or just plain jaded. ^_^
Art – 6
Story – 6
Characters – 6
Yuri – 6
Service – 1
Overall – 6
If I did have a teen who was in a situation regarding the question of alternative sexuality, I would have no trouble suggesting this book. That having been said, if I was a teen in that situation, I might find the book a bit silly. As I neither have a teen, nor am a teen, it’s a cute enough read for a cold winter’s curl up.