Wings of Destruction is a dystopian/post-apocalyptic novella about Martin, who is asexual in a world built around fulfilling carnal desires. He is unable to keep relationships (or Mates as it is referred to here), and tries to survive on his own while trying to stay off the radar of roving gangs who rape and pillage whatever they can find.
At the beginning of this story though, Martin is at the end of his resilience, and he decides that dying would be better than anything this desolate world can offer him, so he prepares to kill himself, and when trying, he meets the angel Anael who has been sent to judge whether those on earth should remain or be destroyed.
What I liked:
Wings of Destruction is an imaginative story, and went into a couple directions that I hadn’t expected, which was a nice twist. I also very much appreciated how some of the characters weren’t all that they appeared.
I went into this story primarily because I was looking to read something with an asexual character. Being ace myself, it’s really rare to find romances with ace characters so I wanted to check this out.
I have complicated feelings about fantastical pairings with ace characters. Here Martin is happy to find someone, a literal angel, who can love him for him, and won’t pressure him for sex. A part of me is, “Yay!” because Martin deserves love. A part of me is wary because of the (not intentional) message that ace characters can only find love with those not of this world. I think it’s hard for authors now writing ace characters because there is so little available in romance now, and so anything that comes up is looked at as an example of representation, and asexuality is really complex, and there are so many ways to write about it.
For those who want a quick primer on asexuality, I’m going to steal what I wrote for my City of Soldiers review:
“Asexuality is the orientation when a person doesn’t feel sexual attraction. They can feel romantic feelings, and they can fall in love. They can like touching and kissing and cuddling. Some are into kink, some aren’t. Some can like sex and be aroused while others can be repulsed by sex. There are hetero-romantic and homo-romantic and pan-romantic and aromantic asexuals. I’ve come to understand that it’s a really wide spectrum of people, where the real commonality is the lack of feeling sexual attraction towards others.”
Martin is ace and also suffers from depression, so overall really devalues himself, especially since no one will stay with him because he doesn’t want to have sex. Meeting Anael is for him, like finally feeling what love can be, even for him, which was nice.
Was the Asexual character “fixed” in the end? No, he’s not. And I bring it up because my worry with reading ace romances is that the ace character will be changed somehow in order for there to be an HEA that is considered more “normal”. But, no, Martin’s asexuality is not changed or erased.
What was harder for me: The writer’s style felt simplistic, and felt like an early work. I’m really psyched that the author wrote a story with an ace lead, so I encourage them to continue writing and working on their craft. There was a lot of ideas here in a short amount of space (20,000 words), and for me, the execution felt too simple or bare for what being called within the fantastical plot.
Do I recommend buying it? This is partially an activism issue with me. For me, who sees so few stories with ace characters, I feel the need to buy them when they do come out to send the message to keep writing more.
The market is very cyclic--so if you want more diversity in your romances, whether it’s more trans*, bi, or gender fluid characters, more characters of color or diverse backgrounds or characters with disabilities, the cycle is this: Write Publish Buy. If a part of that cycle isn’t working, it can encourage the other parts to also stop. So, if you want it, people got to write it, people got to publish it, and people got to buy it, and that’s how it gets into the market more.
So, although this story was just an okay read for me, I’ve already pre-ordered my own copy, and my encourage to the author is to keep writing, and to the greater field, I’d love to see more ace characters getting their Happily Ever After. (I see Alex Beecroft has a book on the horizon.)
And there are a couple lists over at GoodReads, Asexuals in Fiction and Queer Romances with an Asexual MC. If you know of other titles, feel free to add!
Reviewed first for Boys in our Books.