My Country: The New Age; a review, in which I rant about boys who keep getting stabbed

Okay, so my non-spoilery thoughts: I LOVED IT I LOVED IT I LOVED IT. THE SHOW DIDN’T TANK NEARLY AS MUCH AS I THOUGHT IT WOULD. AND I SHIP SEON-HO AND HWI SO MUCH IT HURTS. (I feel like that was kind of the main ship of the show, tbh.)

A few things you might want to know in order to understand this

The show is set during the change from the Goryeo period to the Joseon dynasty at around 1400. It’s about two friends, Hwi and Seon-Ho, who come into conflict and get swept up into the political maelstrom. Also, Yeon is an angel and is Hwi’s little sister. Hui-Jae is there.

I’m kidding, I’m kidding, Hui-Jae is Hwi’s girlfriend. Oh, and one summary claimed there was a love triangle? And that both Hwi and Seon-Ho loved Hui-Jae? But you watch the show, and the only ‘love triangle’ is that both Hui-Jae and Seon-Ho love Hwi and the whole thing was just a weird moment? (Also, this drama was very queerbait-y. Wow.) There was something…very tentative between Hui-Jae and Seon-Ho, but–thank God–they dropped it really early on in the drama, which is good for us, of course.

Prince Bang-Won is fighting for the throne, and his father Yi Seung-Gye is fighting to keep his throne for as long as possible. Bang-Won and Yi Seung-Gye are both real people, as well as the rest of the royal family. Most of the other characters are made up, except for Sam-Bong and a few others.

All right, so now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s start out with the characters. Spoilers from here on out.

Hwi, AKA the stabby idiot (but we love him anyway)

I liked him. He wasn’t my very favorite character, and I feel like he could have been developed a bit more? But he was a decent character. I absolutely love that he ended up apologizing for the things he did wrong. I wouldn’t have liked him NEARLY as much if we hadn’t had that scene. This is why you have characters own up to their mistakes! Not only is it inspiring, it also can be really emotionally resonating and deep and keeps me from hating them. ❤

He’s a bit hard for me to put my finger on, possibly because his characterization tends to jump around depending on what the plot needs. He’s very sweet, yes, but he also has kind of a dark side. For most of the drama, he’s working with Bang-Won, who is planning on killing the sixteen-year-old crown prince? I should mention, in case you don’t realize, that the sixteen-year-old crown prince is Bang-Won’s brother. And it’s a bit hard for me to believe that Hwi can be complicit in that and still be the puppy of the show. I like him a lot, though! If I don’t think too hard about how he gets from one emotional state to the other, we’re fine. And the acting is amazing, as with everyone.

BUT SERIOUSLY, STOP STABBING YOUR BOYFRIEND, HWI. I’m not saying you have to get back together with Little Miss War Crimes, but at the same time, maybe show some hesitation before stabbing the guy who saved your sister?

Seon-Ho, AKA the other stabby idiot, AKA our resident (probably) bisexual disaster, AKA the reason I kept watching this show


I swear I projected so hard onto him. His orientation is never really stated, but I’d say it’s pretty heavily implied that he’s bisexual. Which is to say that IT’S QUEERBAIT, but to be fair they were never clear what his relationship was with Yeon, either. I feel like I really should mind this, but I don’t, and I don’t know why. Queer-baiting drives me up the wall in other shows, but maybe here, it’s…it’s so over-the-top? Like, I’m not really sure if you can interpret Seon-Ho as not being bi. Look, I don’t know why I feel the way I do. All I know is, I can stand this and I couldn’t stand the queer-baiting in Sherlock and I don’t know why. It probably helps a lot that this is a historical drama, while Sherlock was not. I feel like historical shows have more leeway with ambiguous relationships. In Sherlock it was just…Look, these characters know what bisexuality is, everyone is telling them that they look like a couple, and John even admits!! that he has feelings for Sherlock at one point!! and then he just goes on with his life and the show pretends like it never happened. I don’t even ship John and Sherlock, at all, but it makes me really mad and it feels really exploitative of queer viewers. But if you’re working with historical characters and it’s just something that isn’t discussed in the society as much, I think you have more of an explanation as to why the attraction never really gets addressed.

But anyway, I am here for dumb anxious bi goths! Us dumb anxious bi goths have to stick together.

(Seon-Ho is heavily implied to be in love with both Yeon, Hwi’s sister, and also Hwi himself, and I do have to laugh at how ridiculous that is. To be fair though, straight girls get love triangles with two brothers ALL THE TIME.)

He’s such a moron! He just lights up the screen whenever he’s there. He’s a very morally complex character, and you have to guess a lot of his motivations, but like…usually the motivation is there, it’s just not readily apparent. Because the motivation is honestly insane. It’s like a guessing game! My mom’s family was pretty dysfunctional, and I can honestly recognize a lot of the same patterns in Seon-Ho. I know what I always say about how trauma doesn’t excuse a character’s bad behavior, but honestly, Seon-Ho…I get it. It felt real. And his apology to Hwi at the end? LITERAL GOLD. It tied the whole story together. So beautiful. Oh, and you want to know something beautiful and sad and ridiculous? Seon-Ho and Hwi die in each other’s arms. Also, what is it with me loving characters who get stabbed and then stab the other guy as they lay there dying? I mean sure, as far as I can think of it’s just Mordred and Seon-Ho, but that still feels like too many. (Two very big spoilers written in white, select to see.)

Also, towards the beginning of the show, we get a moment were Seon-Ho and the heroine, Hui-Jae, meet, and it goes something like this (not verbatim, obviously):

Hui-Jae: Hello, I–



Oh, you know what’s funny? When I started this, I was thinking, ‘well, this whole thing seems pretty bi, but you know, it’s a different time period, and I definitely don’t want to say that all male characters who express affection for each other are probably–‘ and then episode 3 came along and NOPE THIS WAS QUEERBAIT ALL ALONG MY INSTINCTS WERE CORRECT.

Yeon, AKA the only one who’s got it together, AKA a literal ball of sunshine

What a sweetie. She’s living her best Gothic heroine life. So pure.

She is Hwi’s ill little sister who ends up getting used as a pawn by Seon-Ho’s father to make life miserable for everyone. She’s honestly probably the one character in this show who does not have something shady going on on the side? (We love and support our shady characters too, of course.) She’s trapped in this awful situation, but she still is unfailingly kind. I really thought the actor brought a lot of life to this role. She managed to make a relatively minor-ish character really stand out.

I also ship Yeon and Seon-Ho, incidentally. What do you do when you ship one character with two different people? Write two fanfics?

Also, is it just me or is Yeon living out a Gothic heroine trope? The ill girl gets taken in by a charming, nice, and shady young man who isn’t telling her everything, while the man’s father acts shady and displeased in the background. Where am I getting that from? Have you read a Gothic novel like that before?

She did get fridged, though. I really don’t think she needed to die. I get that it’s customary in stories like these for the cute little sister to die in order for the heroes to have something to get revenge over, but I really think you could have taken the plot in way more interesting directions by keeping her alive. It’s why you don’t always follow the cliche! I will say, however, that I am glad that they didn’t kill her off at the beginning of the show. That would have been stupid, and Yeon did stick around long enough to do things and be lovable. I do appreciate that, seeing as how I’ve watched WAY too many historical dramas where the cute little sibling died in episode one for no reason except plot.

Hui-Jae, AKA She Who Is Without Screen Time

She wasn’t horrible, but I wasn’t particularly thrilled with her, either. I feel like her character could have gone in WAY more interesting directions. She was beginning to get really interesting in the early episodes, but it kind of disappointed me that as soon as Hwi came back and joined Bang-Won, she immediately switches camp from the queen to Bang-Won, despite hating Bang-Won before. Like. You can have love interests who have different political leanings!

Also?? She indirectly assists Bang-Won in killing the same kid that she saved ten years earlier?? Wtf?

I think I really would have liked her way more if she had been a side character rather than in love with Hwi. And I’m not saying that as a rabid shipper, I just think that their relationship was underdeveloped and not a lot of time was spent on it anyway. It came together for me a little better in the last episode, though. They got some sweet moments before the end.

The villains–Nam Jeon, AKA the incompetent scumbag, and Bang-Won, AKA Hwi’s cool but evil bro

I kind of like Nam Jeon as a character, to be honest. He’s the worst, absolutely! But he’s also a dumb goth just like his son, and I find the similarities between Nam Jeon and Seon-Ho hilarious. Nam Jeon is just a way worse version of his son. This character is such a scumbag, but he’s so bad at it, and it gets kind of funny. He also has a really interesting dynamic with all the characters. One more thing? I can appreciate that the villain is actually the one spouting ideals closer to the 21st century. That’s a nice change from ‘everyone has historically accurate beliefs except for the hero.’

Okay, and as for Bang-Won: Firstly, I want to say the actor for Bang-Won is PHENOMENAL. He really gave a lot of life to the part. Seriously. All the acting in this show is amazing. I like characters like Bang-Won; he’s ruthless and ultimately doesn’t have a lot of loyalty to those he doesn’t trust, but if you don’t become his enemy, he can be downright kind. And that scene where he started to echo the same things Nam Jeon was saying? Amazing. And I swear that fan he has is its own character. However. However, I do have one problem. Why on EARTH is Hwi with this guy? I get that Hwi was forced to be there at first, but what was keeping him there later?

I do admit that, while it was still up in the air whether Bang-Won would be good or evil, I didn’t really like that at ALL. He’s a great villain, okay? He’s not a great hero. You can’t have him kill a sixteen-year-old and then call him sympathetic.

(Okay, I’ll admit I loved Crowned Clown, and that had a–sympathetic? I guess?–character who killed a child. But Ha Seon (the hero, who was not the child-killer) was forced into an awful situation and didn’t have a lot of people he could trust. It was an interesting moment. It made me think. Here? HWI WHAT WERE YOU THINKING.)

Side Characters

I loved the Jurchen (I think his name was Sung-Rok? Was that his name?). He starts off as just this weird, crazy guy who can survive anything apparently (to be fair, so can all these characters), and he ends up basically becoming Seon-Ho’s surrogate parent. Aww.

I was alright with most of the other side characters, but I will admit that I think Mun-Bok tended to seriously derail the tone. Like we’ve got this grand tragedy going on all around him? And then here he is, not taking anything seriously and being silly. Also, I will say that comic relief characters tend to not be very bearable when you don’t find them funny. I like Park Chi-Do, though!

Flaws and other such unpleasant things

Oh man. The character motivations jumped ALL OVER THE PLACE. Seon-Ho wants to kill Bang-Won for insulting him once? Hwi is with Bang-Won why? Is there no other way for Hwi to get revenge? Wait, why did Hwi and Seon-Ho stab each other again?

The politics could get somewhat all over the place, but it isn’t NEARLY as bad as some other sageuks I could mention. The show did do the bare minimum of focusing on the main characters rather than jumping down the evil minister rabbit hole for twenty minutes an episode, but I also wouldn’t say the politics always make very much sense. This show is no Nirvana in Fire or Crowned Clown. It still managed to keep things interesting, though!

I know I already mentioned the comic relief characters derailing the tone, but I thought I’d mention it again, because it wasn’t fun.

Also, much as I enjoy the shippiness between the two male leads, towards the end of the drama it starts getting really really blatant and just…Hwi, is this emotional cheating? Is that what this is? I honestly wish that, instead of queer-baiting us, they could have just made Hui-Jae Hwi’s friend and then gotten Seon-Ho and Hwi together. Of course they didn’t do that, but I feel like it would have worked better for the story, instead of having Hui-Jae be a bystander in her own show. Either that or get her more involved in the plot!

Favorite Dumb Moments

The whole show, probably. But I’ll compile a list of my favorite hits.

Nam Jeon: You’re trying to fly before you can even jump.

Seon-Ho: That is what all birds do.

Pictured: Seon-Ho

*Hwi stabs Seon-Ho*

Seon-Ho: Your sword…still feels affectionate.

This quote keeps me up at night. What does it mean? Do I want to know?

Seon-Ho: Stay still, or your wound will open back up.

Hwi: I can’t believe the one who stabbed me is saying that.

I feel like this kind of sums up their relationship.

And then there was one scene where Hwi!! put meat on Seon-Ho’s rice!! AKA the shippy thing people do in dramas ahhh!! *dies*

Ugh, these morons. I love them.

Anyway, I definitely recommend this show! It has its silly moments, to be sure, but it is so, so good, and the characters are so complex and enjoyable, and the acting is possibly some of the best I’ve seen in a drama. I really do think it’s one of my favorite dramas. It’s out on Netflix, so you can binge-watch it there if you want. (It might be something fun during quarantine, lol.) I honestly think I might rewatch this show eventually. Also, if you know of any history books about Bang-Won, the strife of the princes, etc., hit me up! I’m curious to know more now.

A very un-put-together writing update; also, being a slow writer is valid

I wasn’t actually going to post anything today, because my mental health decided to take up extreme sports and go cliff diving (and also I didn’t have a post written up anyway), but then I realized I wanted to post something. So here it is.

(Oh, also my computer broke. And I mean straight-up disintegrated. I can still turn it on and stuff, but it’s not looking good. Thankfully, my sister is letting me use her old laptop. It’s a little bit finicky, but other than that it works fine, so I’m able to still write and stuff. Just…that’s my go-to excuse if I miss any posts now. 😉 )

I haven’t written very much at all this year month, and that’s okay. Honestly. I’m pretty impressed that I managed to get all the stuff done that I did. 4k words written this month! Whoo! (1k of that was spent working on my fanfic, 3k on my novel.) I’m not sure I’ll continue with NaNoWriMo, though, because as I said, mental health, but it has been pretty fun.

It’s okay to write slower than everyone else. I kind of wish I could be a fast writer–I’d like to be able to get all my project ideas completed in a reasonable time. I like working on different stories! But writing slowly means I’ll be able to spend a lot of time with the current projects that I love. And frankly, I’m only *checks* 8606 words into this novel, but I’m already dreading having to end this project, like the sentimental freak I am. Be proud of how much you’ve written, even if you’ve only written a sentence.

Hold up, I’m 8606 words in? Twenty-nine pages?! I’m further in than I thought!

Does anyone else get it where if they go three days without writing or something they immediately start feeling like they aren’t even a writer anymore and they get really ashamed? Because I do that, and it’s a bit ridiculous.

Maybe I fall into a trap of needing to make a wordcount in order to feel like I’ve achieved anything?

I was having trouble getting through this one chapter in my novel, and I promised myself that when I was done with this I would post snippets. That did not help me break through the writer’s block, and I’m not even done with this chapter yet, but I still want to post snippets from this chapter. (Incidentally, I broke the writer’s block by including a scene in between the two chapters from another character’s point of view–Guinevere’s, in case you’re interested–but also getting a certain little word counter thingy called NaNoWriMo helped too. Sometimes all you need to push you through is to break up your rhythm a little.)

But now I need to find snippets that aren’t trash.

Or maybe I’ll post trashy snippets! Why should I only show the semi-decent aspects of myself!

I tried my very best to smile. She grinned back at me. She looked more like a tiger baring her teeth. But she did not look unhandsome.

Written at twelve in the morning and…I do not?? know where this came from?? WHY IS THIS HERE.

By the way, as you can tell, I have finally beat the desire to go back and edit. every. scene as soon as I’m done. I’m fine with editing by the chapter, but if I edit by the scene it’s waaay too easy for me to just decide ‘this whole thing is trash and isn’t going anywhere’ and toss it. For me personally I need to wait until I’ve at least got a chapter down.


“Your condolences are appreciated,” I said drily. The corners of her mouth tilted up.

Okay, I kind of like this.

A smile grew over her face that we both knew she did not mean at all. It was not that it was unconvincing. It was only that we both knew. “I am Queen Guinevere,” she murmured, leaning forward. She looked as if she were admitting something mildly embarrassing.

I really like this.

Her hand jerked, the light flickering as it moved, and she stared at me with an intensity that made me uncomfortable. “Really?” she said. “Gawain’s little brother?” I had never thought of myself as ‘Gawain’s little brother’ in my life.

I don’t know why, but one of my absolute favorite things is having characters in an extremely dysfunctional/otherwise bad situation and then just have them treat it like it’s completely normal. I don’t know why.

She was a tall woman, taller than me, and her brown skin was dry and the skin on her hands were cracked. But it was her eyes I couldn’t look away from. Her eyes were endless and ancient and dead. There were dark hollows underneath them like she hadn’t slept in weeks.

Does someone want to crown me queen of sexy character descriptions or what? That is sarcasm, by the way. Literally no one should want to crown me queen of sexy character descriptions.

But I’m kind of sick of sexy character descriptions anyway. Screw your emerald eyes, Warner! (Okay sorry jk we love your emerald/jade/whatever eyes. Even though they’re ridiculous. NO ONE ELSE GETS A PASS THOUGH.)

Does anyone else type their characters to things way too much? Hogwarts house, colour, whatever that weird personality-type-thing-of-debatable-scientific-accuracy was (MBTI. It was MBTI), etc. I don’t know why I like doing it, I just do.

Mordred’s a Slytherin with a dash of Hufflepuff, I think. Agravaine is…I don’t know, but it’s not Slytherin. BRB gonna go waste my time doing some stupid quiz again. (According to the knockoff Pottermore quiz I took, he’s a tie between Gryffindor and…Hufflepuff?! Nah I’m not buying this I think he’s just outside the Harry Potter house system. He has no house. Gryffindor might be a fit, though.) Guinevere is certainly Slythern. Just in case anyone was interested, which you weren’t.

On a complete and total side note, why on earth are Ravenclaw and Slytherin separate houses? Sure, there is a difference between cunning and general intelligence, but…if you’re intelligent, don’t you also have the capacity to strategize? And you might say that it’s the difference between intelligence for its own sake and intelligence for the sake of ambition–to get you a job, to help you succeed–but those often go hand in hand. I, for one, love writing for its own sake, but I would also very much like to be published and make money one of these days. I don’t know, I just don’t understand.

Oh, weird thing I realized the other day about my story: I tend to imagine my characters with the same accent as me, as if any sixth century British character would ever have the same accent as a fairly accentless American, but you know, Mordred and his brothers are, technically, from Scotland I guess. So I finally looked up what a Scottish accent sounded like, and now I…I can’t get the accent out of my head? I’m thinking in a Scottish accent? Send help?

Also. I studiously avoid writing dialect because I just have this sense that giving the characters a way of speaking exactly like my own is still less offensive than butchering whatever the characters’ dialects are. (And I mean dialect as in speaking patterns, not dialect as in doing bizarre things with your spelling. No one should butcher any spelling here, and you’re probably getting it wrong anyway, 19th century authors. Whoops, did this just turn into a callout post?) Has anyone had to research these sorts of things, and how did you do it? How do you fight the fear that you’re butchering everything that is sacred and you now have an army of angry…Scottish people in this case I guess at your door? I don’t want an army of angry Scottish people at my door! England already tried that!

And hey, I still probably wouldn’t bother with ‘accurate’ speech patterns in this case, because hello it is historical and if I were to be truly accurate no one would be able to understand me. Let us translate this novel from ancient Welsh.

Oh! I also started a fanfic for a show you’ve probably never heard of (unless you read my last blog post), but I’m going to tell you about the fanfic anyway! So there’s Seonho, who is an extremely ridiculous character, from this Korean drama called My Country, which is an extremely ridiculous show. I love it, of course. Anyway, the show (spoilers if you’re actually interested in watching it, just warning you) fridged the hero’s sister, which kind of annoys me, considering I liked the sister very much. So now I’m just over here writing a Seonho/Yeon AU. Where, you know, they escape from evil dad and everything. And I have no idea what direction this is going to take, but I have lots of extremely stupid ideas. But hey! At least I can’t outdo the show in stupidity!

(If I ever do outdo the show in stupidity, please send me help. And also maybe kill me, because that’s a state I don’t want to be in.)

I’ve got five pages of fanfic so far! Yay!

So, uh…snippets?

“Of course,” he said. His smile grew still more uneven. He always had that nervous smile whenever he lied to her. “I always make it out alive, don’t I?” He looked to the side, the smile beginning to slip off his face.

I’ll admit, I kind of love these morons.

She used to have nightmares about losing Seonho.

She would wander and wander through the house and the courtyard, but the rooms would be empty. The house was abandoned. Except for Nam Jeon. She never saw him, but Nam Jeon would always be there.

She’d wake up terrified each time, but Seonho was always there in the morning, a tired smile on his face. She never knew about the future, though. She would never know about that.

Idk if it’s any good I guess you decide

She ran ahead to keep up. “You’re injured.”

“It’s very thoughtful of you to care,” he said kindly, inclining his head. She rolled her eyes.

“We’re likely to get caught if you collapse, orabeoni,” she said, nudging his shoulder without thinking about it. He hissed in a breath. “I’m sorry,” she said.

I really hate how WordPress formats my quotes? It looks ugly, and I can’t figure out how to change it. Does anyone have any advice for this? I also can’t figure out how to change the color of a few words without changing the entire paragraph. Am I technology-clueless or is WordPress?

But anyway, let’s be proud of our writing. 💙 And I’m sorry that this post is way too long for what it is. It’s not a very good post, but that’s sort of the point. Stuff straight from our brains doesn’t necessarily make a very good post, but they’re certainly satisfying to write. I’ll try to get out a more polished post next Saturday, but I certainly make no promises.

Popular Books I (probably) Will Not Read

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 tried to find you guys a glorious, glorious gif of him saying ‘your sword still feels affectionate’ after he gets stabbed, but alas, I could not find one. Seonho, btw, is the reason why I keep getting distracted with fanfic while I’m supposed to be working on my novel. I’m fairly sure this TV show will tank eventually, but I guess I’ll keep watching till it does.
And yes, this entire post was all just an excuse to insert my favorite dumb character of the week into something. As usual.

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.