3.5/5...spray-on condoms...?It was also annoying they brought up the "uncommon whore" trope again =_=STAHP, MCBRIDE. STAHP.Actually, stupid gimmicks aside, I think McBride tends to write more in the style of classical sci-fi, which can be awkwardly jarring with some of the more modern issues she brings up. (Classical sci-fi tends to deal more with post-apocalypse- or dystopia-related issues, while the focus of this one is more issues of gender identity and the accompanying social stigmas and such.)I think that's a lot of why I had so many issues with this book to begin with. I do tend to take a more prescriptive approach to reading, though, so it did take me a bit to settle into the story, but settle I did.It's interesting that there would be such negative social stigma towards females in Valorans. You'd think that as hermaphrodites, they'd be more sensitive towards such things.But I can also see why. It's interesting that FoA would manifest here, but I think it also underscores a very good point.That's not saying there aren't "males" and "females." Simply physiologically speaking, there are some who have a lot more testosterone and some who have a lot more estrogen. I wonder...this creates an interesting sliding scale of physiological gender.I wonder how much of the gen-shifting thing is more psychological. Social construct affecting physiology. Some part of it had so to be; if the mind weren't in some ways stronger than matter, as the proverb goes, then placebo effect wouldn't have ever been observed.It also reminded me of a point from Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time.They've made themselves stronger by stiffening their society, but at the same time, it has made them more brittle, easier to break. Someone once made an analogy regarding this idea to a diamond with flaws that is simultaneously the strongest substance, yet also most easily fractured. Superficially, it appears strong until you start exerting pressure in just the right - or wrong, from a different angle - way.Actually, this reminds me of Melancholia.It's overwrought, yes - sometimes to the point of being annoying - but it also brings up good points and frames them accordingly.There are points where it starts getting annoyingly pedestrian, but it's not completely so, so I am generally in the end mollified.There's also a scene with intercrural sex, which was interesting because that's not something that authors generally write.I think in the end, despite how overwrought it is at times, it's nicely balanced. It brings up good issues and analyzes them within the context in which it's invoked. (Well, it does until it starts getting all pedestrian ~sigh) The sex is also pretty hot ^^Onto more mundane matters...Lefi's name...Okay, Lefi reminds me of Lefty, that cat story in Ramona Quimby. It was just a bit awkward every time I saw the name...Royal purple. I understand why people would think that royal purple is a deep, rich purple (I used to think so) - it's because of royal blue, which is a deep, rich blue. However, true royal purple - Tyrian purple - is actually a lot more reddish and in many ways closer to cerise or fuchsia than "actual" purple.I don't like the cover. The composition is nice, but I don't like the way the people look.Maybe it's been too long, but...who the hell were those children in the end?