Monday, March 7, 2022

Perpetual West by Mesha Maren


This isn't the sort of book that I'd usually read but I ended up enjoying it both more and less than I thought I would. PERPETUAL WEST has a great beginning. It's about a married couple-- Elena and Alex-- who are living just north of the border, but make frequent trips to Juarez. Alex, who is adopted, was born in Mexico, and in order to learn more about his culture and feel more connected to it, he's gotten involved in the local punk scenes and learned Spanish while also writing his thesis on masked Mexican wrestling.

What Elena doesn't know is that Alex is having an affair with the very wrestler he's been studying: El Vengador, who goes by Mateo. Your identity as a luchador is apparently super top secret, which I actually remember from watching Mucha Lucha as a kid (did anyone else watch that? It was in the same line-up as Jackie Chan Adventures and Avatar: The Last Airbender). Mateo is hot but he's also in deep with the local cartels, and he ends up dragging Alex down with him.

I liked the cartel bits because, you know, obviously. But Elena's story became tedious, and the Kasa de Kultura people ended up seeming kind of abhorrently pretentious (although I think that was the point). I ended up skimming through a lot of her scenes. Major trigger warnings, BTW, for drug use and eating disorders. The 2000s setting and the Mexican punk culture scene were fascinating and the cartel elements almost felt reminiscent of Scarface, but at the same time, this almost felt like multiple books crammed into one. I did finish because I wanted to see what happened and I didn't really like the ending. I do like this author's writing style, though, and will definitely check out more from her.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

2.5 to 3 out of 5 stars

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