For Mark, choosing to transition was one of the best decisions he ever made. And life has been looking up recently because he’s got his MFA and landed a huge commission to build one of his welded bike chain sculptures. He’s even got Enis, the most amazing best friend anyone could ask for. The only thing he’d really like to add is a lover, but so far his romantic relationships have been nothing more than learning experiences.
Then a breakup leaves Enis available, and Mark starts to see possibilities he hadn’t before—but intimacy could ruin the friendship he values more than anything, and that’s assuming Enis would want him at all once the clothes come off.
Overall Rating: 5/10 stars
Matt’s Review: 3/5 Stars
This is a sweet, simple little get-together story between a gay guy and a trans guy. If friends to lovers is your thing, then you’ll like how that works.
This book is a good example of research done right. Something that becomes really rapidly apparent when you read trans books is that trans characters have to go through certain things and be revealed in certain ways. There is the Obligatory Bathroom Scene. There is the Cliffnotes Version Of My Transition monologue. There is the Deadname Scene. They form a paint-by-numbers Trans Character (TM) and it gets very boring, very fast.
They aren’t here.
In A Welded Wave, Tanis gives us a more nuanced—and therefore authentic—portrayal of this experience. I believe this character is trans. I believe the author has done their research properly and talked, in depth, with FTM people. I believe that they have been there, by which I mean, they haven’t done their research in one conversation with one or two people, but immersed themselves in the transgender experience. That’s what research should be.
Furthermore, the love interest is gay. And many authors are too scared to actually poke what that means because, oh my god, can’t possibly have a question mark over whether an attraction is going to be maintained due to the love interest being not pan- or bisexual. Well, this is poked. Because yes, trans people do question that. If a guy asks me out, I’m sitting there thinking ‘yeah but are you gay? If I tell you what you’re going to find behind the buttons here, are you still going to want to?’
Unfortunately, for me, the story wasn’t as strong as the portrayals. I felt like this would have done either better in short story form, as is, or as a full novel with more plot driving this new relationship. And it does, sadly, suffer from the typical romance conflict-itis in the final act. And, as usual, that conflict felt forced.
In summary, A Welded Wave suffers from the problems that usually plague debut novels—but the genuine, sensitive portrayal of the identities within it were still lovely to read, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more from this author in the future.
Maria’s Review: 2/5 Stars
So, I’m going to start this with a disclaimer: This was THE ultimate case of “It’s not you, it’s me.”
I was really looking forward to this book and I wanted to like it a lot. But honestly couldn’t because the writing just didn’t work for me. I had a hard time getting into the story at all, and even then I could barely enjoy it. Not because anything was wrong with it – some typical debut novel issues aside – but because writing style and voice of the author just weren’t for me.
I did like Mark as a character and his passion for his art. Enis on the other hand remained a mystery to me, and in the end I couldn’t feel their friendship or their budding romance. Not even when they were intimate with each other. It just didn’t happen for me. Consequently, the conflict at the end didn’t really touch me either. I could understand it intellectually, but not FEEL it. Plus, in this case the two guys actually read more like teens or pretty young adults to me than people in their twenties.
Like I said, there were some typical debut novel issues here, but also a lot of potential in my opinion. To my cis gaze the trans rep was good, Mark was a well fleshed-out character and I did like the idea of the novel even if the execution didn’t work for me. Just honestly can’t give it more than two stars. Not because I thought it was bad, not really, but I really can’t say it was good either.