Hi everyone! I hope you’re keeping well! The last few days have been a wee bit of a whirlwind for me! I got my first paid translation job since graduating in May (I’ve been doing voluntary work for NGOs and charities since then) which is super exciting! Despite that I’ve managed to get in a wee bit of studying and reading and one of those books was Cute Mutants Vol. 2: Young, Gifted and Queer by SJ Whitby which I was so lucky to receive in a giveaway!! If you haven’t read the first book yet, first of all, go and do that!! But also check out my review if you need that final push to pick it up!
Title: Cute Mutants Vol. 2: Young, Gifted and Queer
Author: SJ Whitby
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-fi, LGBT, Young Adult
Synopsis: “I spent my life dreaming of being invited to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Turns out irl it has the vibe of a Dark Kermit gif. I just want to stay in the closet kissing my hot girlfriend.”
Despite the chaos and me being a dumpster fire, things turned out okay last time. We beat the villain, and I’m part of a superteam. I have cool friends, and somehow (don’t jinx it, Dylan), I even got the girl. Not just any girl—the icy badass who’s secretly soft-hearted. Things should be great, right? Now the government’s come knocking, and we’re summoned to superhero school. Which is a dream come true, except it’s run by a corporation. But not all corporations are shady, right? It’s fine, if you can get over the teeny, tiny problem that there’s also an evolution-obsessed organisation trying to figure us out. Plus, it turns out we aren’t as rare as we thought. There’s another group of mutants with dangerous powers running loose, and we’re the ones who’ll have to stop them. I hope the part on my school records that says “near-pathological disregard for authority” isn’t going to come back and bite me. Maybe it’ll be the thing that saves us.
Although I am yet to read the comics (fake fan, I know), I’ve been a huge fan of the X-Men films for years – they shaped my teen years and they’re so much of a comfort to me (yes, even the Deadpool ones) – so at the end of the first book when Dylan is invited to train with her team of mutants at a government-backed facility, I was so excited to dive into this second book, particularly for the X-Men First Class-esque training scenes. But this was so much darker than I could ever have expected!
The book opens with Dylan kissing her new girlfriend Dani in the closet, and no, the irony of that has no escaped her! The two of them, and the rest of the Cute Mutants make their way to Yaxley Headquarters to start their training, but from the get go things go a bit awry. Dani is instated as the new team leader and the team are quickly tested in order to figure out their abilities. After one of the Cute Mutants gets taken, Dylan is quick to try and rescue them and find out what happened, but in doing so uncovers a secret corporation set on creating new mutants who are already out there and dangerous…
Writing this review is going to be hard without this being just a giant key smash of emotions, although I feel that that is something that Dylan would greatly appreciate! The Cute Mutants themselves are definitely one of the highlights of this book for me! I love character-driven books, so having so much of a focus on the Cute Mutants is something I really appreciate! From the get go we see Dylan being put in some challenging situations and we see her struggle with being almost demoted by Yaxley. It’s so easy to empathise with her throughout the book, and though she could have gone in the complete opposite direction, Dylan is always so protective of her Cute Mutants and never grudges Dani for being chosen as leader over her. Seeing their relationship grow in this book is so so cute. It’s so great to see such a healthy relationship where they discuss their issues with each other, and I love how vulnerable they are around each other! There is another relationship which starts to blossom in this book which I would honestly die for!! I’m not going to spoil it for you but they are the softest and sweetest couple and I swear nothing better happen to them!!!! Again, without spoiling things, we get to see a new bunch of mutants and that was so cool!! I love getting to know them and their powers and seeing the fun superhero names they come up with for each other! One that is introduced quite early on is Katie who can basically breathe fire and she quickly grew on me! Another thing I really appreciated was getting to see more of Emma, getting to understand her powers and seeing her grow as a character. Sadly, there is a death in this book and honestly… I don’t wanna talk about it! SJ Whitby has just ripped my heart from my chest and slashed it to pieces courtesy of Oni (who, yes, I also love!). I am never going to be over this death, I will forever be salty about it!!!
As I mentioned, this book is so much darker than the first! We have the dodgy dealings of another corporation set on making their own mutants and the ethics of that as well as the fact that Yaxley is not as great as they may seem at first glance. There is so much more action in this one too and the whole book literally had me on the edge of my seat. I know some people may disagree on what I’m about to say (please fight me on this) but this book had similar vibes to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, aka, the best solo Wolverine movie (yep, I said it). I know I gave book one five stars but this book was literally on another level! I cannot recommend this series enough, even if you’re not a huge X-Men fan like me! If you love fast paced, high action, character driven books that are just so queer then this series is definitely for you! I’m so lucky to have an ARC copy of the next one sitting waiting for me because I can’t wait to know what’s next in store for my Cute Mutants – but only if there is no more heartbreak!!