I really enjoyed the plot, it was varied but done correctly.
Due to the amount of shaming and other negative things, this book would have been better rated for adults or new adults. It is not to say that teens don't experience this, but the book didn't handle these parts enough for this book to work for teens.
Protagonist Peter needs to improve his image so he agrees to let his drag queen best friend put him in drag. However, he faces more struggles than he anticipated.
I was really looking forward to this one. Drag queens, coming of age, queer acceptance - all this sounded great. However, Peter was so unlikeable as a protagonist. It was hard to root for him. Yes, there is growth but it is just hard still to like him.
This book was a fun time!! But also has a LOT going on.
Peter is like, the master of clap backs and it’s always getting him trouble. So he ends up helping to produce a drag show to get out of the hole he dug himself in, and it causes a lot of controversy in their small town.
The personalities of these characters are BIG, which is so fun. The DRAMAAA!
If I had one criticism, it’s that sometimes it was hard to listen to the main character throughout the whole novel really hating on himself. He talks about himself like he’s such a disgusting human, with his weight and his skin, everything is so negative. It was supposed to be in a funny self-deprecating way, but it was pretty intense sometimes. However, at the end, he finally sees himself in a different light, and I hope that he keeps a little of that positivity in this fictional world after the novel ends. I’d love that for him.
Overall, this was a fun, sassy listen, very timely with everything going on in the real world right now, this ending with a happy, positive note we all need.
Thank you @annick_press and @netgalley for sending this book for review consideration. All opinions are my own.
Thank you to Annick Press and NetGalley for the eARC. DRAGGING MASON COUNTY was a funny, but also heartfelt, YA debut about drag and queer community in a small town. The narration was snarky and felt true to a YA voice. A fun YA read.
A wild YA contemporary novel centered around a teen drag show in small town Texas. Peter never holds back, especially when defending his best friend Alan. This time his words have gotten him in some pretty hot water. When Alan, aka Aggie Culture, decides to throw the first ever Mason County Drag Show, Peter decides to produce it, hoping to restore his good name. Drama is the word of the day. The show must go on, but will their friendship survive the experience?
This novel was both funny and touching at times. Peter has some serious anger issues. You can't fully give forgive some of the things he says, but he's still just a kid. He definitely grows a lot throughout the course of the story. The queens are so fun. It's easy to picture them strutting around. It's an emotional story, lots of strife, but at its heart, it's focused on friendship and learning to be who you are. I did enjoy the read.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
This White Pine finalist is one of my favourite books of 2023.
Curtis Campbell’s “Dragging Mason County” follows Peter Thompkins, a small-town gay with a sharp tongue and a quick temper, a less than ideal combination for someone who wants nothing more than to fit in.
When Peter goes viral after his verbal assault on another queer teen is caught on camera, he can’t help but stand out in all the wrong ways.
And what better way than to clean up his image than by producing Mason County’s first ever drag extravaganza.
This book tackled so many topical teen issues with such humour and poise, from drag bans to queer friendship to queer baiting to internalized homophobia.
You need to read this book.
This book was laugh-out-loud funny and heartwarming. I loved every second! It would make a great addition to any YA collection!
Peter is just like every other high school kid, except he's gay, his best friend is a high school drag queen with a pretty good following online, and he might have said something terrible that was recorded and now his image is lower than it was before, if that's even possible. So, he decides to throw a drag show in his southern small town featuring local high school queens to improve his image. He also thinks he might be in love with the same guy as his best friend, he might be feeling sorry for what he said...or maybe not...and he might be facing down some internalized homophobia. Will he produce a drag show or will he just get dragged?
Peter is the best kind of unreliable narrator. The kind who you see right through, and kind of want to scream at, but are hoping he'll find his way to something better. It felt honest and fresh in a way that I haven't experienced recently in my reading. Peter is self-conscious and at the same time a little narcissistic. I couldn't decide at points if he was a good friend or a terrible person, and that made me want to follow his story even more.
If you're looking for a great LGBTQIA+ read that is hilarious while facing down some serious topics, this is the book for you. You won't regret being dragged along with Peter and his friends.
I wanted to love this book as someone who enjoys drag and YA books. However, I couldn’t finish this one. The banter was constant and trying a bit too hard for my taste. It felt like a Disney channel original movie.
First and foremost thanks to Netgalley, Anick press, and the author for allowing me to get an advanced copy of this in exchange for my honest opinion.
At first, I found it extremely hard to get into because Peter was just a bleh kind of narrator. Not because he was brutally honest, but because he just seemed to be the backseat rider of his own life. That made it hard to want to root for him, but I suppose that is a part of the point of his story. He felt like a side character in his own story and that is always hard to overcome and find your place among things.
Alan at first was infuriating to me because he was almost ignoring who Peter is as a person and wanting Peter to be someone he's not. But I started to see that he was a friend of Peter even if he was a bit off the mark with showing it.
Overall, it was nice that this novel wasn't all rainbows and unicorns to an extent. It also felt like there was a lot more homophobia than I was prepared for. I also felt that it was infuriating that Peter wasn't "gay enough" as if someone can decide that for everyone and that gay should look the same. However, I know that in some cases that is how people see the world, black and white.
This was an interesting read and a great debut by Campbell.
I got an ARC.
Another toxic bitchy gay MC. I am not for this being this season's thing, but it is happening a lot with the books I have been getting. I stopped when the MC yelled that someone should kill themself, especially since the rumor was that character's dad had killed themself. It just...wow..and I am supposed to root for this guy?
Peter is an angsty gay teen growing up in a very rural area. His best friend Alan does drag videos online and has a good following. Peter says a lot of things he shouldn't to another gay student and a video gets posted of that enhance online and now he needs to overhaul his image. Peter and his friends decide to put on a drag show at the town hall, with Peter producing the show and the other queens performing. The story follows Peter and his internal thoughts and life up to and after the show.
This book showed the troubles of being queer in an area where it's not socially accepted. Where they did find acceptance, it was so refreshing and not always from the people in town you'd expect. It was chock full of pop culture references that had me cracking up. This book was a fun ride from first page to last. Check it out if you want a laugh.
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC to read and review!
Overall, this book turned out to be less than I was expecting/hoping for. I had a hard time liking the main character Peter. He definitely has a lot of growing up to do. I was glad that he was on his way to a stronger self knowledge by the end of the book, but the negative drama that it took to get there was wearing. I loved the House of Rural Realness and the characters involved. I can see purchasing this for my high school library.
Thanks to Publisher’s Weekly Grab-a-Galley and NetGalley for the chance to read this arc in exchange for an honest review.
I really enjoyed the plot here...
Small town, teen queers of all types, drag queens putting on a show, dicks protesting said show, finding love, finding yourself, social media, friendships and bullying.
So many amazing things wrapped up in one story!
So why did I give it 3 stars?
There was a lot of shaming, queer shaming and body shaming.
Internally and externally, it was not cool.
Talking about insecurities from time to time is normal. Forcing someone to do things they aren't comfortable with and constantly fat shaming? Even less cool.
Talking about these things in such a degrading way, and so often that I was physically uncomfortable.
Not my thing.
I wish it didn't have so much negative space about figures and how to be more queer, because everything else in here is amazing!
I would still recommend this for adults, but probably not teens.
I don't feel comfortable putting this in the hands of impressionable kids who already feel weird in their own skin.
Referring to anyone's body as "disgusting", because it has (very common) imperfections, is harsh.
Not turning it into a conversation about body positivity?
Trying to force someone to be more feminine because they "aren't gay enough" is bananas.
Not turning that into a conversation about how being queer is different for everyone and there's no wrong way to be queer as long as your kind (to yourself and others)?
Another missed opportunity.
I would not want to put this in the hands of kids who already have insecurities running wild knowing it could damage them more.
Thank you NetGalley & Annick Press Ltd. for my ARC.
I was really excited by the premise of this book but it fell short for me.
Some of the issues were simple formatting and proofing issues - even for an ARC there was so many mistakes it was distracting and made reading a challenge because it disrupted the flow too much. The characters didn't feel authentic to me.
I have to admit that this one had to grow on me. I loved the end, but it took me a while to get there.
There are some things that make this title unique. It is a gay-centred story, set in a small town, that is not about having to hide who you are. The main characters are young men in that context, which makes it even more unique. Finally, the protagonist is not the most likeable character around, and I had to work through that.
This is very much a teen novel for now. Social media plays a really important role in the story and it is all about the drama and the followers. Main character Peter finds himself at the centre of a tsunami of social media attention when his tendency to speak first and think later gets recorded and posted. His best friend Alan (and his drag persona Aggie Couture - and yes, I do love that!) decides that Peter producing the first ever drag extravaganza in Mason County is just the thing to restore his reputation, and convince people that Peter's not a "self-hating gay". Peter's not sure about it, his parents aren't sure, and the local Moms for Liberty types are absolutely not sure.
One thing the book does really well, and that helped me stick with it, was navigate the dynamic of being a young gay man who isn't the "perfect" gay boy that the popular girls want to hang around with. What happens when you're a teenage boy dealing with acne and body image issues and everything else, who just also happens to be gay. It's not something I've seen dealt with a lot in YA fiction, and Curtis Campbell bravely takes a shot at it here.
There's a lot of angst in this one, but there are some hilarious moments, and it all builds to a terrific finish.
Thanks to NetGalley and Annick Press for the e-arc.
As a huge fan of drag in general and Drag Race, I had SO much fun reading this! What great representation of not only queer teens, but the diversity within the LGBTQ kids in this book is awesome- some fat, some mean, some nice, some rich, some middle class.
The way the author perfectly encompassed the awkwardness and cringey-ness of being a teenager and figuring all that out in a rural small town was so relatable.
This book was so fun, but at the same time dealt with some tough topics such as bullying (and cyber-bullying), homophobia, suicide, and more.
I can’t wait for queer kids to get their hands on this book, and to see what else the author does in the future!
What an AMAZING YA debut!! This queer coming of age story takes place in a rural small town over the summer and features the complicated relationship between two gay best friends. I absolutely LOVED that the main character, Peter is so utterly flawed but relatable!!
Fat with acne and stuck in a small town with parents that are not super supportive, Peter has a lot of anger issues and trouble controlling what comes out of his mouth. When he attacks another gay student and a video of it goes viral, he finds himself in need of serious damage control.
Enter Alan (aka Aggie Culture), his best friend, who is unapologetically out and a proud drag aficionado. Alan's big idea to help Peter (with admittedly some self-serving motives too) is to put on the First Mason County Drag Extravaganza with Peter as producer.
What follows is a series of hilariously embarrassing antics, some expected small town homophobia but what really struck me was the way that Peter realized there were more true allies and fellow queer people in his small town than he had known and they show up in lovely and heartwarming ways to help Peter and his friends pull off their Drag show.
Full of heart, this should be must read material for high schoolers. There's something for everyone in this story and I couldn't put it down!! Witty and real and with the BEST rural themed Drag names ever, this is one you don't want to miss!
HIGHLY recommended for fans of books like Pumpkin by Julie Murphy or The Black flamingo by Dean Atta. Many thanks to NetGalley and Annick Press for an early digital copy in exchange for my honest review! (Also that cover?? FANTASTIC!!)
"Maybe we're just pretty dummies in corsets. But it makes being born in the wrong place, with the wrong people, feel bearable for a little while when you can show them how fucking good you are at being you. Or, you know, this painted-for-the-gods version of you."
This book had a really good message. This book felt very young for me. I was very annoyed with all of the drama the characters had. But I think this is a great book for younger readers
Peter, the main character, was interesting to follow as he learns how he really relates to people instead of how he thinks he does. The drag show is the background to growth and Peter and his friends go through some experiences learning about life and love. All in all, a good book.
Honest review of Dragging Mason County by Curtis Campbell
*ARC provided by NetGalley.
I read this book SO QUICKLY. Not only did I find it an easy-going read, but I wanted to keep reading and see what happened with the group! I really enjoyed this book. I related to Peter sometimes, and also to the other characters. I feel like that will be such a strong pull for readers of this book, that so many of us have been in a situation or two with our friends or parents like one that the author has described. For the story itself, I couldn’t always predict it and I loved the Drag Extravanganza as the big plot! How fun! I wish I could be there. Great themes, great drag representation within the field, and a great fun read.