Showing posts with label problematic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label problematic. Show all posts

Friday, March 17, 2017

[Review] Optimists Die First - Susin Nielsen: Anxiety and Amputees

In OPTIMISTS DIE FIRST, Petula meets and falls in love with a disabled boy whom she meets in therapy.

What intrigued me: I always enjoy reading about neurodiverse and disabled characters!

Juvenile and strange narration

Welp. OPTIMISTS DIE FIRST is a classic it's not you, it's me pick when it comes to the writing.

I really enjoyed the whimsical narration at first, but very much did struggle with the extremely juvenile writing. And with juvenile I mean that it doesn't read like YA, but like Middle Grade. I'm not a MG reader, so this was extremely exhausting for me and severely impacted my reading experience, considering that Nielsen writes in very short repetitive sentences that do not complement the story or POV in any way.

Petula is a quite interesting main character, but unfortunately the voice is absolutely unable to reflect that and just makes this read weirdly staccato-like, throwing you out of the story all the time.


Problematic Disability Rep

Beyond that, I had issues with the disability rep in this one. I neither have anxiety nor am an amputee, though I do have a disability, so take this with a grain of salt. 

Petula's anxiety is very much portrayed as this quirky thing that she can turn off and on whenever she wants, which is in itself very problematic. The problematicness gets doubled knowing that her relationship with love interest Jacob is the thing that enables her to do things she couldn't do before and basically turn off her anxiety. 

This is a "love cures all" kind of story, that I think has no business in the hands of marginalized readers or people who aren't versed in disability discourse, because it provides dangerous misinformation. This is bound to do immense harm. Beyond that, neither the story, the writing, or the characters are even remotely intriguing enough to warrant me giving this one a star more. OPTIMISTS DIE FIRST is one of those stories about anxiety that make it seem quirky and cool and capitalize on disabled characters instead of actually representing.


Rating:

☆☆☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

OPTIMISTS DIE FIRST could've been great with a fabulous premise and anxious and disabled characters, but at the end of the day very much ventures into romanticizing territory and strikes me as having pretty harmful representation. Be careful with this one.



Additional Info

Published: March 2nd 2017
Pages: 272
Publisher: Andersen
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781783445073

Synopsis:
"Petula has avoided friendship and happiness ever since tragedy struck her family and took her beloved younger sister Maxine. Worse, Petula blames herself. If only she'd kept an eye on her sister, if only she'd sewn the button Maxine choked on better, if only... 
Now her anxiety is getting out of control, she is forced to attend the world’s most hopeless art therapy class. But one day, in walks the Bionic Man: a charming, amazingly tall newcomer called Jacob, who is also an amputee. Petula's ready to freeze him out, just like she did with her former best friend, but when she’s paired with Jacob for a class project, there’s no denying they have brilliant ideas together – ideas like remaking Wuthering Heights with cats.
But Petula and Jacob each have desperately painful secrets in their pasts – and when the truth comes out, there’s no way Petula is ready for it."
(Source: Goodreads)



Have you read books with great disability rep?

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Do You Watch Movie Adaptations of Books You Didn't Like? | YA Talk

So this has happened quite a lot lately. I've seen many books that I've read and not necessarily liked get movie deals. 

While I'm super happy for the authors, I always end up with the question: Do I watch the movie?

See, I really love seeing fictional characters come to life. It's one of the most fantastic things that can happen to a reader, to see the people you imagined on the big screen. I love that, even if it's with characters that I didn't like or books that I didn't Granted this hypothetical movie adaptation I'm talking about isn't a problematic adaptation of an also non-problematic book, should I go watch it just for that effect alone? Or should I support movies and adaptations of books I know I'm much more inclined to enjoy instead?

That One Time It Worked Out

I actually have an example for you guys where doing just that lead to something wonderful. If you've been on my blog for a while you know that I've been trying to work my way through the The Mortal Instruments series and the entire Shadowhunters universe by Cassandra Clare quite reluctantly. Yes, before you mention it, I'm aware of all the drama and schebang surrounding her. If you aren't - google.

I did watch the first movie adaptation long before I read the books and found it quite intriguing, but when I actually read them? Yikes. I hated them. Like, really deeply found them problematic and unenjoyable. But then the TV adaptation came along. Shadowhunters, race-bending (if you can even call it that) major characters into people of color, giving more love and attention to the single gay couple in the series that the author ever did in their books. Also very attractive actors. 

And boy, I grew obsessed with that series. It's mediocre at best but the diversity really hooked me because TV shows are just -so white- these days. It's also a plus that I've heard rumors that the author receives minimal profit from the series because of some rights issues.

If It's Diverse I'm In

In that case it worked out great. I found something super worth my time and great to support by giving books I really dislike another chance. I'm not sure if I would do this again, it really would probably depend on the book series and if there is anything in them that I deeply dislike or not. But what I'm trying to say is - it really depends on who's adapting it. There are so many failed book adaptations out there, and there are so many ridiculously white adaptations out there, and just as many that do their damn best to white-wash anything and everything in the books even if there was great representation in the first place. 

If I see a diverse adaptation of a book I didn't like, I'm definitely more inclined to supporting it. See, I didn't care much for THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken but when I heard that they cast a black girl as the lead role for a character that's white in the books (or, not specified, which usually means white in our world), I made a mental note to go watch these books. Because representation matters. 


Is this a one in a million thing? Has this happened to you before? 


Let's talk YA.


More:
Should We Separate Authors from Their Problematic Work? On False Representation and Whether Authors Deserve Call-Outs
Do We Owe it to Authors to Call Out Problematic Books Nicely?
What is POC rep to you? "Olive Skin", On the Page, and Non-#Ownvoices Authors 
Once You Go Diverse... Diverse Books are Better Than Non-Diverse Books


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Sunday, February 19, 2017

White Authors Who Write about Slavery | YA Talk




Due to harassment and lack of allyship this educational post has been removed. Why?

More on problematicness:
Should We Separate Authors from Their Problematic Work? 
Do We Owe it to Authors to Call Out Problematic Books Nicely?
What is POC rep to you? "Olive Skin", On the Page, and Non-#Ownvoices Authors 
All YA Talk posts

BEFORE YOU COMMENT -
I don't want to hear about white authors who did it well or answer your question about your slavery book. Please listen. I'm trying to make you understand.

For personalized advice on writing diversely and recognizing problematicness, check my Patreon.
If you want to support The Bookavid and posts like this, feel free to buy me a virtual coffee via ko-fi.

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

8 Blogging Resolutions for 2017 - Things I Vow to Do, and You Should, Too | Book Blogging Tips (#47)

Resolutions are a tricky thing. I usually don't really care for them because they hardly ever are things that I think I can realistically achieve. 

But looking at the development my blog has gone through since launch in september 2014, I noticed that I very much am able to fulfill bookish ones - and that doing this absolutely changes my blog for the better.

Call this a blogging hacks post if you will, disguised as a new year's resolution.


#8: I vow to read more out of my comfort zone.
Doing that is sometimes hard, I get it. But by picking up books you normally wouldn't have, you can sometimes find gems. Would you believe that one of my favorite books ever, LIFE'S THAT WAY by Jim Beaver was one of these? I don't do Non-Fiction, usually. Makes me uncomfortable and I don't really care. But trust me, sometimes it's worth taking a chance on books you're skeptic about.

#7: I vow to read genres I usually dislike. 
If you've been following me for a long time you know that I don't like high fantasy. Never have. But looking at my blog statistics, it's the most reviewed genre. Why? I want to educate myself. Read stuff I don't usually read. Sometimes you can find new favorites like that. This year's genre is Historical Fiction + Historical Fantasy. I'm hoping to make it the most reviewed genre on my blog by 2018.

#6: I vow to give popular books a shot.
You know I'm a hipster when it comes to reading - I don't like reading what's popular and that's not really a desirable characteristic. I'll try to read more popular books in 2017 and push myself.

#5: I vow to read even more diverse books than non-diverse ones.
My reading habits changed for the better since I consciously picked up more diverse books. Just trust me on this one, especially if you have a marginalization, may that be a mental illness, disability, or being a person of color - reading about people like you makes your life better. And even if you aren't marginalized - expand your horizon. It's fun.

#4: I vow to not bother with books that I don't enjoy.
I DNF left and right and you should, too. Don't bother with books that are a chore to go through. Your time is too precious.

#3: I vow to boost the heck out of my reviews of problematic books.
This is a very important thing to do. I know, it feels scary to speak up sometimes, but know that you're protecting marginalized readers, especially teens, by doing that. Sharing is caring.

#2: I vow to stand with bloggers and reviewers who are getting attacked for speaking up.
This goes with the previous point - as much as it is important to speak up about problematic representation, it's also important to protect the people that are doing the talking. We need to have their back, no matter the cost.

#1: I vow to keep on improving, keep on changing.
I think that's the beauty of blogging. That you can look back at all your old content and smile because it reminds you of the person you were when you posted it. Blogging styles change and post formats and ideas and all that do, too. That's a beautiful thing. I hope I'll get some more of that blogging nostalgia looking back at this post a couple years from now.


What are your resolutions blogging-wise for 2017?




More Book Blogging Tips:

Dramatic Changes I Made that Ended Up Improving My Blog
No Comments on Book Reviews?
How Often Should You Post per Week?
Are You Awkward About Getting Review Requests from Authors?

8 Tips to Get Motivated to Write Blog Posts
More Generous Ratings for Indie Books?


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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I Fall For Problematic Love Interests | YA Talk




I may not be the only one 

Usually I try very hard to be the voice of reason. But I also have a lot weaknesses when it comes to YA. The second we've got a sexy villain love interest entering the room, I'm suddenly unable to think properly.

After asking some of my friends in the reading community I noticed that all the male favorite characters are usually people that you wouldn't want to meet in real life - especially not in a dark corner.



Top Five Favorite Male Character Answers I got:

- Warner from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
- The Darkling from The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
- Travis Maddox from Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
- Patch from Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
- Jace Wayland from The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

I haven't read all of these books, but I certainly noticed that there's a trend towards male villains.


Why are the bad boys so appealing?

  • Confidence
A thing that plays a major role when determining whether you find somebody attractive, is their confidence. When you present yourself well, you're more likely to succeed. 

  • "I do what I want"- attitude
I guess it's also a sense of maturity that radiates from men who know what they want and don't hesitate to for it, no matter the cost. They put themselves first to achieve their goals and that's probably what we all should do - of course within legal bounds. I'm not saying you should build an army of robots and invade your professor's house because he failed you in a class.

  • Danger!
With bad boys, you're bound to make more memorable experiences than with the nice guy next door. If the YA heroines stuck in a love triangle between the good guy and the leader of an illegal rebellion against a totalitarian regime, you already know who she's going to choose. 

We read books because we want to experience new things. We want to see the world the way never could in real life.

So hell yeah I'm going to root for the heroine to choose that guy who robs banks for a living over her childhood best friend! I don't care if he's a mass-murdering insane greedy villain, as long as he doesn't torture puppies.

I'm not ashamed to say that I'm absolutely 100% a problematic villain fangirl. Are you?


Who are your problematic favorites?


Come back next Tuesday for a new YA Talk! 

More YA Talks:


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