Showing posts with label marginalized. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marginalized. Show all posts

Monday, April 17, 2017

Top 10 Things That Will Make Me Want to Read a Book Instantly

Today you'll learn a bit about my favorite tropes, little things, genres - anything that I enjoy and will make me pick up a book instantly.

#1: f/f!
I'm so predictable. There is unfortunately so little representation for sapphic girls in YA, that I gotta take what I can get. I pretty much buy anything if it has girl-loving girls.

#2: Paranormal Horror!
You'd think there'd be more horror YA books out there. But unfortauntely it's very hard to find something that isn't gore-y, actually scary, and doesn't use mental illness as a poorly-researched premise. I also definitely can't stand crime-related horror with murderers or kidnappers or whatever. If it's paranormal and spooky, I'm in. But please, no ghost romances.

#3: Magical Realism!
Again, you'd think there'd be more. Magical Realism is a genre that most books on  the market claim to be, but if you actually pick it up it usually turns out to be Urban Fantasy. I've learned that it's best to stick with Latinx authors.

#4: Parallel Universes!
You guys know I love anything involving parallel universes. Generally you can hook me with anything that has multiple dimensions in them.

#5: Travelling to Space!
I love love love when authors write about space and introduce wacky world building that you'd never see anywhere but in space. Unfortauntely very few authors put the emphasis on the world when writing Science Fiction, so I'm stuck with trial and error.

#6: Aliens, Aliens, Aliens!
I have no idea how I developed this tendency, but I'm such a sucker for good old paranormal romance with aliens. I gobble these books up. Actual romance in space is hardly ever my thing, but if it's a weird alien coming to Earth, disguising themselves, and falling in love with a human? Sign me the heck up!

#7: Time Travel!
Another instant buy. I love a well-executed time travel book. It's very hard to get that right, I think time travel is one of the hardest things to execute well and to still have it make sense. My utmost respect to all authors who try. I love a good angsty high-concept time travel romance.

#8: Mixed format!
This is one of my newest obsessions. Any book that has a semi-intriguing premise AND features multiple formats (texts, chat logs, newspaper articles etc.), is definitely something I'll have to buy and have to own a physical copy of. No clue why, but I really enjoy the variation.

#9: My marginalizations!
I think this is a thing that gets everyone hooked. I've got a couple different marginalizations and having just a little bit of my identity represented automatically gets a buy. Oddly enough, while I do like identitiy representation I want any book set in a country I've lived in to be as physically far away from me as possible. Really deeply hate those for some reason.

#10: #Ownvoices!
Honestly? I dread reading non-#ownvoices and I try to avoid it. You guys know I read a lot (like, seriously A LOT) and from experience I know that most non-#ownvoices books are absolutely terrible. Either they're riddled with offensive, problematic content or just completely poorly written. Is this a thing or do I just pick up the worst books unintentionally? Every time I read an ownvoices book, it turns out to be a five star read. Odd. Let's investigate this.


What are some things that will make you pick up a book instantly?


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Saturday, October 8, 2016

[Review] Holding Up the Universe - Jennifer Niven: Obesity and Prosopagnosia




In HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE, the world's fattest teen Libby, and Jack, who lives with prosopagnosia are sent to group counselling and community service.

What intrigued me: I was curious about Niven's books. The premise didn't necessarily pique my interest, I would've picked anything she'd release next.


Extraordinary writing and voice

HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE certainly does bring a breath of fresh air into the genre with it's incredibly unique characters. From page 1 Niven is absolutely able to suck you into the story, to make you hear the characters' voices. 

She has an extraordinary feel for making characters speak aloud inside your head and make you forget that you are reading a fictional story, which undoubtedly shows that Niven is an insanely talented writer. However, it's the topic of choice that absolutely negates all of that for me and makes me disregard it almost completely when reviewing this.

Sensitivity is a necessity when you tell the stories of marginalized people.

When writing about marginalized identities, you have to be extra careful. There's just something about the tone of Niven's voice that irks me and makes me feel uncomfortable. HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE is told from the dual perspective of two teens who are obese and suffering from prosopagnosia (an illness that makes you unable to recognize faces) respectively. 

And both teens express extreme hatred towards themselves and their lives. Especially when you're including multiple teens who derive from "the norm", you shouldn't make them all hate themselves. This isn't how positivity works, this isn't the representation marginalized people are asking for. This story wasn't written for people who are obese or have prosopagnosia. 

All HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE is teaching readers and teens who might live with the same illness that they should hate themselves. That they can only be loved by someone who is ill, too, if at all. I'm sure this isn't the intention, certainly not what Niven's trying to say, but this is exactly why it's so important to be nuanced and incredibly careful when tackling very real topics that affect real lives. 

In fact, I do think that to some extent this story (of course) is told for the shock value. It's oozing from the language Niven chooses to let their characters describe themselves. But I think we need to move past that. Stop telling the stories of marginalized people because it's shocking or seeminlgy "innovative". Start telling the stories of people who happen to be marginalized instead. HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE certainly does not belong to the latter.

Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE simply makes me uncomfortable. I couldn't enjoy the story, despite very skillfull writing and strong character voices, which I usually applaud authors for. If the topic was approached with more sensitivity, this could have the potential to become a fantastic masterpiece, but for me it absolutely falls flat the way it is and disappoints.



Additional Info

Published: October 4th 2016
Pages: 400
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN:  9780385755924

Synopsis:
"Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.  

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone. 
Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours."(Source: Goodreads)

How do you feel about fat/mentally-ill characters for shock value?

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