(Idea inspired by Hyper-Parfait's now defunct Triple Delights)
In which I discuss three novels at the end of the week (Saturday) in quick paragraph snapshots on my general impressions and reactions.
The Legend of Tarik by Walter Dean Myers
You know, I think I just read this book at the wrong time. I can see objectively that it is a very well written book, and for what the story tries to do, it does it well. It’s a whole fantasy quest story to avenge his father, with one little subversion: the hero is black. Now, I do appreciate this subversion, but it doesn’t satisfy me. I mean, yay black hero that actually wins the day in a magical quest story, that’s a storyline that you don’t come across every day. But my tiff with this book is that it didn’t subvert enough for me. Why not go all the way, I thought to myself. Subvert the wise old men who trains the hero prodigy! Subvert the role of women! Subvert the whole object troupe! Hell, challenge the stereotypical villainous characters as well!! But alas, this book didn’t do that. Basically I wanted a bigger challenge to the whole typical magical quest story and it didn’t do it for me. The role of Stria, the hero’s woman companion, particularly disappointed me, not because Myers didn’t attempt at subversion (he did! She had personality! She was his partner to fight the bad guy as oppose to being the weak love interest!) but because I just wanted more. I wanted to see why she couldn’t be the hero of the day, and the best we got was that it’s because she had anger problems, and that plus the whole hysterical aka way-too-emotional woman type characters often found in fiction made me frown.
This frustration wanting more subversion for other aspects of the novel besides the black hero/white villain thing stopped me from appreciating the novel as much as I would have, if I read this back when I was a bit more enamoured with the fantasy quest story line and only needed a little bit of subversion to be happy. But I’m mostly jaded on these quest things and it takes a lot more reversals of the typical quest storyline for me to be invested. Sadly, The Legend of Tarik didn’t do it for me. I do recommend this to people who love the magical quest storyline and want just a slightly different twist on the formula. I can guarantee that the writing is spot-on and will appeal to the lovers of this genre.
I Wanna Be Your Shoebox by Cristina Garcia
Omg soooooo much fun to read!! Our main character, Yumi, is a girl that cannot be easily confined to a checklist of what she should be. I like this aspect a lot, because I think it shows the endless possibilities of Yumi’s bright future. I also liked the intertwined storyline between Yumi and her grandfather, Saul. It isn’t my favourite use of this device, but I thought they worked well together. And the portrayals of Yumi’s relationship with her family and friends and classmates were vivid and a great joy to read about. I think the biggest theme of the whole novel is hope, a bright, endless hope of the future, that there’s always a possibility of great things to come and experience. That’s not to say that there aren’t any “serious” themes to this story, there’s death and divorce featured in this MG novel as well. But this novel is not a problem novel and about dealing with such conflicts. It’s more about facing the future, of the good and bad and making the most of it. And the book convinces you of this hopeful message by being written with such gusto and spirit. It’s the kind of book that makes you smile every time you remember reading it. Highly recommended.
Bound by your Touch by Meredith Duran
The book I would have never read if it weren’t for Sarah Rees Brennan’s recommendation! It was lots of fun, and I love the romance aspect. However, the historical part was not as good as it could have been. I mean, it more or less sticks to how 19th Century England works, but it doesn’t exactly make you feel like you’re there in that past, or challenging the notions of the time period. Then again, this is a novel marketed as romance and if the “historical” side to the romance was not as good as it could have been (not that I remember ever reading historical romances that actually did the historical side justice… I suppose I have to look into straight historical novels for that), it balances out by having a lovely romance that subverts stock romance troupes. The spinster gets the young rake! And other spoilery stuff I shouldn’t reveal about various family members that have interesting subversions. I was rather irked by the whole Egyptology thing being used as the driving plot of the story though. I mean, it has that feel of exotic foreign dead artifacts being used to further along the European story and that always nudges me the wrong way. Perhaps I could have reconciled with this if there was a prominent Egyptian character in the story but they were nowhere to be found. I did enjoy this novel very much though. Not enough to feel like buying my own copy of the novel, but it was a fun read.
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