Venus Meets Venus is a largely linear Twine story about a romantic and sexual relationship (though it is very clear on not being a love story). I read it through to the end.
This is a story about a cis lesbian in her first relationship with a trans woman.
It is not making many formal experiments; the presentation is a slight variation, mostly in color and font size, from a Twine standard, and the story mostly moves forward.
It uses throughout the image of a number to represent the status of a couple. There were a few times when I felt that it strained that image to the point of being distracting. Mostly not, though.
Mostly, it’s just incredibly raw. It addresses the uncertainty of sex, the vulnerability and emotional challenge from the first date to the established relationship, the social context, the complicated feelings that the protagonist has towards activism in light of her new relationship. The protagonist’s reactions seem like they’d be hard to invent without personal experience, but there’s enough artistic structure that one doesn’t feel like it’s a pure diary entry, either.
A couple of reviewers have commented about the protagonist being “not very likable”. It’s true that she does some things that aren’t a good idea or aren’t kind or fair in the context of her relationship. More than that, though, the story spends a lot of time with thoughts that she herself realizes are problematic but is nonetheless experiencing: difficulty reconciling her expectations for what an activist trans woman “should” act like with how her girlfriend actually behaves, for instance.
These rang really true for me.
I’ve never been in a situation like this one myself, but it reminded me of being in college when it seemed like the majority of my friends were queer or questioning, and I… wasn’t. Through my friends, I was spending enough time with these issues that suddenly the heteronormativity of popular culture seemed incredibly glaring and omnipresent, in a way I now found alienating, but I didn’t qualify as queer either. I was sometimes attracted to women at an abstract level, sometimes had mild crushes, but when it came to serious feelings, I was consistently, tediously heteroromantic. I would never share the full set of experiences my friends were going through. I would never need to face down social pressure in the same way, never earn self-knowledge at the same price. I would always be partially on “the other side”, to them, in the position of privilege, tied to the system that was creating their problems. I seemed to myself comparatively boring. It was irrational, self-centered, and unhelpful. I knew that even at the time, but that didn’t make the feeling go away.
So: effective, well-written with only a couple of spots I thought might have benefited from an edit; honest and raw but at the same time accessible. A strong entry, though also one that I found very tough to read through.