By which I mean ALL OF DEM, because I have just been in such a reading slump lately
Sorry I haven’t updated Le Morte D’Arthur in a while or…you know, blogged. Do other people find it hard to get back into the swing of things after a hiatus? Because that’s where I’m at. But I’m sure I’ll get back into the rhythm (that is the HARDEST word to spell) eventually.
Anyway, I believe I have quite a few popular books I refuse to read, so why not a post about that? I have resigned myself to the fact that I will always hate whatever new book is hot around the blogosphere, like the grinch I am.
1. Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard
Okay, so this book was actually the inspiration for this post. Once a year, I think, “hey, why haven’t I read this yet? It sounds really interesting! And sure, maybe it’s a bit cliche and there is some unfortunate girl hate in the beginning of the series, but that magic system. Ooh.”
And every year, I look up reviews, and then I come across a review of the fourth book that includes this quotation:
He lays the flower on the railing, petals up, and fusses with his fingernails. They’re short, worn by teeth and anxiety. I would expect a king to keep his nails finely manicured, suited to the arms of a throne. Or maybe roughed by Training or combat, as I’m sure his brother’s are. Not ruined by nervous habits better suited to a child.
I hope…that is not supposed to be sympathetic? Like, we’re not supposed to agree with the person speaking or anything? I think there are a couple of different narrators, so maybe the person speaking is supposed to be an ableist jackass?… And also, you should have worse things to criticize the villain for than his anxiety tells. “Yes, I know he killed people. But you know what’s worse? He has ANXIETY!! >:-( “
Do I still want to read it, though, even if we’re not supposed to take these words at face value? No. Not really. I couldn’t get into it when I read the first couple of chapters anyway, the hero sounds boring, and I don’t like it when villains are really sad and I want to hug them and then they die. Unless they’re Seonho from My Country. Seonho can always be really sad and I’ll want to hug him and then he gets stabbed but he doesn’t die because this K-drama is insane and stupid and these characters can survive anything, apparently. Is Maven Seonho? Probably not. I have doubts in his abilities to be Seonho.
I don’t know, maybe I’ll read Red Queen eventually just to review it, but if I do, I’m going in with low expectations. It’s not childish to be anxious. It’s not childish to bite your nails or to have irrational fears. It’s not childish to be like a child, as long as it’s in the good way and not the pitching-an-almighty-fit way. You know what is immature? To look down on childhood as beneath you and as something no adult should have any part of. That’s what I think is childish. God, I hope whoever said that wasn’t supposed to be seen as sympathetic.
2. Wicked King, by Holly Black
Yeah, I think we’ve already been here.
3. Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Abertalli; also, any book by John Green or basically most popular contemporaries out there
This is different from the other two–it’s not like I have a personal reason to not read it or anything–but I read the first two chapters and I just could not get into it. Like. Does it annoy anyone else when contemporaries just throw out random references? “Harry Potter!! Oreos! Kids like those things, right?” Could your characters maybe enjoy, idk, medieval French poetry or something obscure like that while still remaining unpretentious and down-to-earth? (‘Medieval French poetry’ is a completely random example, of course, and has nothing whatever to do with my own interests. Heh.) And maybe if they weren’t all upper middle-class white people? Can we get some poor characters so I can relate to them? Or super rich characters so I don’t feel like I’m supposed to relate to them? Can we just focus on anything?? other than the bourgeoisie of America?? Contemporaries, I implore you.
Is it possible things have changed since I last dipped my toes into the contemporary genre? Do inform me if they have.
4. Girls of Paper and Fire, by Natasha Ngan
I feel a little guilty for this one, but here it is. I love that it’s about South Asia. I love that it features a lesbian romance. But…
I’ll admit it, I’m not currently in the mood for a story where the monster is pure evil and the good humans have to kill them. I like stories about seeing past appearances, about learning to get along with someone fundamentally different from you. Call it perhaps childish, if you will, but I like the idea of humans being able to accept that which is different. Sure, Beauty and the Beast may be a ‘problematic’ fairy tale, but for me the themes are just so comforting. Learning to accept the humanity within the Beast was the right thing to do, instead of rejecting him because he was different.
*sobs* I just want a brilliantly told lesbian Beauty and the Beast is that too much to ask foooor
Oh, and a random thing: I have mistyped this title as ‘Girls made of Paper and Fire’ twice. I don’t know why this is so hard for me to remember.
5. Pretty much anything by Cassandra Clare, actually
I read the first book of Cassandra’s Shadowhunters series when I was eleven, and I don’t remember much except that everyone was mean to the human and it was totally okay for them to do that because Shadowhunters were cooler, and also I remember the Jewish character getting turned into a rat. I’m not Jewish, and representation doesn’t have to be perfect in order to make a HUGE difference in someone’s life, so I’m not trying to cancel Cassandra Clare or anything like that. (Not like I can, lol.) But that part of the story just…makes me uncomfortable in retrospect? I’m not misremembering this, am I? Simon did get turned into a rat? It says so on Wikipedia, so I assume this isn’t my brain making anything up.
(I just remember Nazis comparing Jews to rats in their propaganda, in case you’re wondering why it makes me so uncomfortable.)
(Also, I read this in reviews, does Clary really verbally attack the gay guy for being gay? That’s annoying. I think I remember something like that in City of Bones? I’ve heard Magnus was really good, though, but…Meh. Meh, Clary and everything you stand for.)
And also, nonhuman characters looking down on humans isn’t a good look! It just makes the characters look like arrogant little bastards!
6. The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Shockingly, a book written by an incestuous pedophile has incestuous and pedophilic elements! 😮
I was going to leave it just with that statement, but you know what? I won’t. No, I won’t leave it here. Not only does she villainize Guinevere, guess how she villainizes her? That’s right. By giving her anxiety. We all know that anxiety makes you evil, folks, and worse *shudders* it makes you weak.
Gosh, I wonder what reason an abuser could have to spread that message?
And including this book may be cheating a little, because it was popular during the seventies and eighties, so it is not current at all, but I believe it’s still popular within the Arthurian subgenre, so I’ll still count it here.
And that was all! Here I am, grinch-like in my corner, waiting for a hyped book will finally live up to its promises. I’m losing hope, guys.