Nora Olsen, Swans and Klons. Bold Strokes Books, 2013. Pp. 264. ISBN 978-1-6028287-4-2. $11.95.Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad
Swans and Klons, the second queer-themed YA novel (see The End) by New York-based author Nora Olsen, will be published this May by Bold Strokes Books, who specialise in LGBT literature in all genres, and is a light-hearted, fast-paced adventure in the utopia-turns-to-dystopia mould. The story follows two rebellious young girls, lovers, in a women-only world where all reproduction is performed via cloning, and a life of luxury, freedom, high culture and learning is supported by a large labor-pool of genetically inferior slave workers, as they fight to undermine their own privileged place in this society. The characters have teenage foibles, weaknesses and jargon, but ultimately are trying to be moral, and are strong and resourceful, against a sometimes baffling lack of resistance from their rulers. Apart from a tendency for blatant info-dump, especially early in the novel, and a sometimes naïve approach to genetics, this is a strikingly readable novel with appealing characters and an engaging premise that should keep young readers interested, whether the girls Olsen is specifically targeting who “can see themselves reflected in” a queer narrative, or a more general, open-minded readership.