The Other Five Percent
The Other Five Percent is a contemporary romance involving Logan Vanderveer, who has gone into advertising after college, and is presented as the stereotypical, suit wearing nine-to-five worker with a cubicle office. The other protagonist is Ellis Floyd, an artist, who is well read and working multi-jobs he loves. He went to the same college as Logan, and as far as Logan is concerned the pair were best friends. One morning they see each other after four years in Logan’s local Starbucks…
From here on the novel consists of mainly a two-hander story. Logan runs from Ellis, Ellis follows. Logan decides against seeing Ellis – but then does. Ellis is thrilled to see Logan then becomes furious with him. It’s all predictable stuff and the writing is fairly pedestrian.
And this is a shame, because we are briefly introduced to a female co-worker who sounds like she could have added interest and an alternate view, and to Logan’s two older sisters who seem quite strange, but might have added more insight. This story is told entirely from Logan’s PoV and there is one conflict in it, which relates to one event and one only. Despite having played around with boys at college and having had Ellis as his boyfriend for some months, Logan insists that he didn’t think of Ellis as a boyfriend and jokes that he is ninety-five percent straight – hence the book’s title.
The title confused me initially – did Logan like only five percent of the population? Did Logan not like five percent of the population? It turns out that the novella is an attempt by the author to write a romance involving and explaining bisexuality. Sadly, Quinn Anderson gets all sorts of tangled up doing so and ends up insulting everyone. Firstly, as this novella is only about one hundred pages long – which I didn’t know when I took it on – there is no time to create an emotional connection with the main characters. They are polar opposites yet both stereotypes and two-dimensional at best, and I had no liking for either of them.
Trying to portray a bisexual character – or rather the awakening of one – in a novella is difficult. Trying to portray a character who considers himself 95% straight and yet, in his twenties, has no idea about bisexuality is just daft. It is also insulting to consider that someone is five-percent gay and falls into the dangers waters of ‘Gay for You’ or ‘Out for You’. Simplifying concepts the author is obviously unsure of so as to fit a novella length story ensures people are hurt and erased.
This brings me to a short note about the author. Ms. Anderson’s bio indicates that she –
…has a master’s degree in psychology. She wrote her dissertation on sexuality in popular literature…
This makes the book’s content even worse. The story shows a person forcing someone to admit to an identity they supposedly have no idea about. It reiterates the false assumption that bisexual people are either straight or gay depending on who they are with, and erases those whose bisexuality may relate to non-binary identities.
I found the premise that in four years, someone could practically forget the most important relationship in their life and never realise it had been anything other than best ‘bros’, totally unbelievable. Logan seemed to remember all his heterosexual partnerships perfectly, right down to the name of the girl who was number 1 in his ‘best sex ever’ list.
I’m surprised this has been put out by Riptide who is a publisher I trust where queer novels are concerned. This is a quick read with one explicit sex scene and a whole load of confusion about sexual identities.