Have you ever finished a book and thought, “Well, that was delightfully weird in the best way”? Because that perfectly sums up my reading experience with SJ Whitby’s Cute Mutants. Specifically, it’s an epic new release that follows the mishaps and adventures of queer teen superheroes!
I read this little novel over the long weekend, in preparation for the book tour organized by Caffeine Book Tours. Furthermore, as part of the tour, I’ve written this blog post to help Cute Mutants find its way to its target audience.
So, is Cute Mutants the right read for you? To help you decide, here are five fun and fantastic things that you’ll find in this book!
Book, Line, & Sinker
Book, Line, & Sinker is a series of bookish promotional posts and features that aim to bring new books to your radar, be it upcoming releases or backlist titles. All posts are paid or sponsored, but all opinions are honest and are my own.
by SJ Whitby
My name is Dylan Taylor, human incarnation of the burning dumpster gif, and this is my life.
I always wanted to be an X-Man. Except people and me never got along, and apparently you need social skills to run a successful team. Cue Emma Hall’s party. One hot make out session with the host herself, and I can talk to objects like my pillow (who’s far too invested in my love life) and my baseball bat (who was a pacifist before I got hold of him). Now there’s a whole group of us with strange abilities, including super hot ice queen Dani Kim who doesn’t approve of how reckless I can be.
The bigger problem is a mysterious mutant causing unnatural disasters, and we’re the ones who have to stop him. Except trying to make a difference makes things blow up in my face and the team’s on the verge of falling apart. Can I bring them back together in time to stop the villain from taking revenge? Have I mentioned I’m not a people person? Magneto help us.
1. A unique and refreshing take on superpowers
With gigantic superhero franchises, the concept of people possessing superhuman abilities has been repeatedly played around with. Arguably to the point of ad nauseum. Even I, a self-proclaimed Marvel Cinematic Universe trash fire, have grown weary of repetitive storylines and tired tropes. Generally, in mainstream media, we are treated to stories where superpowers are incredible abilities and superheroes are forces to be reckoned with.
In contrast, Cute Mutants is a wacky superhero tale where superpowers aren’t necessarily impressive. Moreover, such abilities come with a great deal of inconvenience. Its story begins with a group of queer teens gaining strange mutant abilities directly after kissing the same person at a party. As a result, these abilities offer both benefits and drawbacks, eliciting frustration and irritation from their users. For instance, imagine literally bursting into light and flames whenever you’re turned on. Or imagine being able to move objects around, but only when you’re in great pain. Not exactly the most glamorous of mutant powers, in my opinion.
Moreover, due to these unorthodox conditions, these newfound heroes don’t immediately succeed in their attempted heroics — and it was entertaining to watch them stumble and flail around. Thus, Cute Mutants does a fantastic job in setting up a steep learning curve for aspiring teen superheroes.
2. Wonderfully unapologetic, casual diversity
Something about queer teens with mutant abilities and using them to save the world hits different. And you know what? I’m absolutely here for it.
While Cute Mutants does touch on LGBTQIAP+ issues, specifically transphobia and bi/panphobia, it is ultimately a celebration of gender diversity. From Dylan lovingly referring to their nonbinary parent as “Pear” to Emma finding solace amongst her new friends as she explores her identity within the ace spectrum, this book offers both loud-and-proud and casual representation for various gender identities and sexualities. In addition, the story also features racial diversity, with Korean and Kiwi-Chinese major characters.
3. A superpowered found family that’s both awkward and endearing
Cute Mutants is told from the chaotic perspective of Dylan Taylor, self-proclaimed human incarnation of the burning dumpster gif and resident socially anxious loner. After discovering that there are more new mutants with weird abilities, she seeks to put together her very own crime-fighting squad. In other words, a daunting challenge for someone who struggles with befriending people! However, as the story progresses, these mutant misfits forge unbreakable bonds amongst each other and find kinship and belongingness.
I love a good old-fashioned found family trope, and Cute Mutants has that in spades! I particularly adored the grumpy/sunshine friendship dynamic between Dylan and Alyse.
4. Themes of crime, vigilante justice, and morality
Cute Mutants initiates excellent conversations surrounding the moral righteousness of vigilante justice and the burden of fighting crime. Especially when crime-fighting is taken on by a group of novice teen superheroes. In line with this, the book provokes the following questions:
- Whom do you turn to when the justice system is broken and corrupt?
- Can vigilante justice deliver real justice? Or is it a misguided form of vengeance?
- Are there actions that make a person totally irredeemable? Are there actions that justify the forfeiture of a person’s life?
- What can teens do to make the world a better and safer place?
5. Humorous teenage chaos and oblivious gay yearning
Cute Mutants is successful in melding fantastical storylines and realistic teenage experiences together. Aside from having to control their newfound mutant abilities, the characters must also navigate high school, friendships, and stubborn crushes. Specifically, this encompasses insecurities, anxieties, and jealousies experienced by teens in real life. Except everything is cranked to the gayest level!
In summary, Cute Mutants is an eccentric mix of self-deprecating jokes, geeky humor and superhero references, unbridled teenage angst, and big disaster energy. Its writing can only be described as wildly whimsical and messy — in a fun and entertaining way. Readers should buckle in and expect to laugh out loud in every chapter.
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I’d love to hear from you!
🌻 Is this your first time hearing about Cute Mutants by SJ Whitby? Are you planning to give this queer superhero novel a try? (While you’re at it, make sure to add Cute Mutants on Goodreads!)
🌻 What are your thoughts on superhero stories? Do you love them or hate them? Additionally, are there certain themes or tropes that you’ve grown tired of?
🌻 If you could gain a weird mutant ability, what would it be and what would be its cost?