What is an effective plot twist?

Book Discussion, Uncategorized

Happy 2019! I’ll be honest I debated whether or not I even wanted to continue this blog after 2018 ended. I had lost some of my motivation to blog but I knew in my heart that I would want to continue discuss and write about the media I consume every time so it’s still in me to continue. How I want to change this blog however is by writing more discussions and analyses instead of reviews and wrap ups. I’ll still do a monthly wrap up (there may be a new format for this too) but for the most part, I really want to analyze what I read by analyzing the writing or seeing it through a social lens etc. I’ve always been passionate about this but I’ve just never found a lot of the motivation to put into words what I thought.

I’ve been reading a lot of books that feature plot twists lately and it got me thinking about some of the plot twists I’ve read. Plot twists manipulate and confuse but they can make the story so much more exciting and complex. What are the most effective kinds of plot twists? What makes a good one?

Spoilers below for:

  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
  • The Wicked King by Holly Black
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
  • Big Little Lies TV series
  • The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

In The Cruel Prince, Jude is a human forced to live in the Faerie world after the murder of her parents by Madoc, her “foster” fae father. In Faerie, her confidants are her sisters, cowardly and invisible Taryn and rambunctious Vivi. Her enemy is Cardan, a cruel Faerie who bullies and torments everyone but especially her. She spends the entire book trying to gain any semblance of respect in a world that sees humans as inferior by default. She eventually gives up this quest and instead chooses to gain power any way she can and force them to give her respect: “if I cannot be better than them, I will become so much worse”. Because this book is based on political maneuvering and the subtle acquisition of power, it is a fair mine field for all kinds of plot twists, some better executed than others. One of the best plot twists occurs near the end of this book when Jude uses her mithridatism to thwart Madoc. It is a brilliant plot twist because for one, Jude has been working up to this. We, as the readers do not know how she was going to use this skill only that it would be of use later on. Secondly, she is thwarting Madoc her sort of “foster” father whom she already has a tense relationship with. Although he is her parents’ murderer she still remembers the times he taught her to fight or told her bedtime stories. She understands that he loves his family but is ruthless in his teachings and knows his love comes with a caveat. Jude was raised by Madoc so how can she possibly hope to defeat him? Both have different goals and it’s tense because you question who is going to win out this fight. And even if you do know, you don’t know how. The twist is also revealed at a crucial point when we think all hope is lost with Jude. Another feature of a good plot twist demonstrated here is that after the fight, no matter the end, the character dynamics are going to change drastically.

I think the change in character dynamics is so important to a good plot twist. For one, it changes the plot hereafter and it changes the emotional stakes for the characters AND the readers. In the last heart pounding plot twist of The Cruel Prince, Jude schemes for Oak to crown Cardan as High King. Now we know that in this entire book, Cardan has been this cold blooded bully but in the past chapters, we have caught a glimmer of the humanity inside him especially when he was captured and had to confess his feelings and when he was beaten by a servant glamoured by his own brother, Balekin when he refused to practice his swordplay (fuck Balekin btw) But we know he does not want to be king at all. So the fact that the person who he has bullied, a human of all things, crowns him to be something he hates is going to drastically change things in the next book. This plot twist has great timing because we now have slightly shifted our emotional stakes on Cardan. We get to see Jude in the power position which she has wanted so badly this entire book but it came with a catch, she only has the power for a year and a day. I also really like this plot twist because it makes both characters equally vulnerable. There is a million possibilities that could potentially happen on both ends, so it makes it fun for us as readers. It also changes a lot of the emotional stakes. Whatever trust we put into their burgeoning relationship, it has been slammed down. We don’t know whether to trust in their relationship now or not or whether we can even trust what we know and believe either character will do. In the next book, we anticipate Cardan and Jude will go to even further means to get what they want.

Now let’s compare that explosive ending to the one the weakest plot twists in the series so far: the Ghost’s betrayal in The Wicked King.  In my opinion, this was not nearly as effective as that plot twists in TCP. Although it does change character dynamics, the Ghost was after all part of the Court of Shadows, it is definitely another thing to have a spy spy on you. However, we barely know anything about the Ghost! It definitely did not change the emotional stakes for me. Although it is certainly a betrayal, it is a betrayal of little consequence. Sure the Ghost bombed the quarters but what were the real repercussions of that? I didn’t remember any. Why did the Ghost betray them? Other than just for a plot twist. He was barely present in the last book too and did not seem to develop in this book. I barely even remembered that he was in this book so how am I suppose to feel anything if the Ghost betrayed them? It also feels a little cheap as of course this would be the perfect time to pull the carpet from underneath Jude just because. It changed little of the characters’ mental state just introduced a new obstacle for Jude to solve and deepened just the plot. But with Holly Black, I know that the little plot twists are only a set up for another bigger and deeper plot twist.

Of course, you don’t have to have all of these parts of a plot twist in order for it to serve well. Rick Riordan, for example, is a master of solely emotional plot twists. As demonstrated in the Mark of Athena, his cliffhangers are deadly because of the emotional stakes the reader has placed on these characters, in this case Percy and Annabeth who we have followed now for more than 5 books and are arguably the most beloved characters in the series. In Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief, Riordan uses one of the most common plot twist tropes, that of the person you thought was on your side but turned out to be the bad buy aka Luke. We see this plot twist all the time especially in children’s movies, Wreck it Ralph, Spiderman: Into the SpiderVerse, Toy Story, Big Hero 6 etc. I think the problem with this plot twist is that it tries to establish those emotional connections too quickly and then the betrayer disappears only to reappear again kind of randomly but I understand it’s significance for the main character’s development. They are often role models or epitomes of good in the main character’s eyes and although I may have my problems with its overuse, I understand is importance to the character themes.

Plot twists can be built on top of each other and offer a look into thematic elements of the story, a definite tactic of psychological thrillers like in Big Little Lies. We have little plot twists and surprises in Big Little Lies but it culminates to the series’s biggest twist. This serves to put those other surprises into perspective and forces the reader to reevaluate what they know about the story and about their world. The plot revolves around the community finding out who choked Renata’s daughter Anabella on the playground. We follow the mom’s lives separate from that. With Celeste, we get a glimpse of the repeated abuse she suffers from her husband. The plot twist of Max being the one who choked Anabella reinforces the the overall theme and confirms Celeste’s worst fears, that her son will become just like his father. She cares most about her children and her denial about the abuse her husband perpetrates will extend beyond him and into his children even though they did not explicitly teach them to abuse. In this case, the plot twist serves more of a thematic element which I think is one of the best qualities of a plot twist. In The Queen of Attolia, Megan Whalen Turner (my master of political intrigue) has one of the best crafted plot twists that I’ve read recently in a book. The plot twist in question is when Eugenides confesses his love for the queen of Attolia, you know, the same one that cut his hand off. At first, you reel in shock wondering how in all eternity this could make any sense. How could you be in love with someone who has done irreversible damage to you who has captured you, imprisoned you, and proceeded to dump you back with only one hand. But you realize Turner has never lied to you, that this plot twist didn’t come out of nowhere, she was subtly slipped in what you thought was irrelevant and made it relevant. It is not only shocking and surprising but delivers an intense glimpse into the characters’ psyche -Gen’s near perfect ability to lie to others to himself and the queens ability to receive love but denying that for power and control. And of course, in the end, you don’t know whether it’s true or not, you can only go back and reinterpret what you thought you already knew. It is absolutely brilliant and of course, it changes the interactions hereafter immensely with the intertwining themes of love and power at play.

Of course, most of the plot twists I mentioned to some degree depend on the reader surprise. It is a very delicate balance of reveals and misdirection. The more intricate and layered these misdirection the more likely, I think you have of having a well crafted plot twist. Can a plot twist be good if you have predicted it? Of course you can know when a plot twist is coming intentionally, usually happens when the reader knows there’s going to be a confession or a secret of some sort that needs to be revealed. I like this one because it affects every decision the character makes stringing along a low grade sense of tension throughout the story. So overall, if a plot twist can somehow combine the elements of shock and surprise, but also can shift emotional and plot stakes for the characters and the reader, the plot twist can be more effective.




An Analysis: Sexism in Harry Potter

Book Discussion, Uncategorized

I’ve reread Harry Potter about a million times now but during September/October I reread Harry Potter for probably the first time since I started college which was 5 years ago. As I’ve become more and more involved in feminist theory and pop culture, I wanted to see if Harry Potter live up to the heralding feminism that it has been known for all these years especially in its feminist icon, Hermione Granger.  I will discuss some observations I’ve made through a feminist lens.


Harry and Ron flying the car to Hogwarts in the HP & the Chamber of Secrets illustrated edition

Let’s first talk about Lily Potter. For all intents and purposes, Lily Potter is a Mary Sue and used essentially for man pain. In fact, Snape’s entire backstory, present, and future was dependent entirely on his love for Lily Potter. That love manifests through him. Yet Lily Potter is never truly presented as a true character separate from her relationship with either Harry, James, or Snape. For most of the series, she is used as a symbol of love. As it is stated repeatedly, it was her love and sacrifice that has allowed Harry to be safe from Voldemort this entire time. What was she good at (besides Potions as Slughorn consistently repeats)? What were her dreams and aspirations? You could argue that she is not alive in Harry’s world and therefore not truly a character anyways yet why does James Potter and the rest of the Marauders feel more like real characters? In The Order of the Phoenix, Harry realizes that what he has always thought his father was: courageous and selfless turns out to be a lot more complex. As we know from experiencing Snape’s memory, James Potter is rather arrogant and honestly a bully.  You get a real sense of who he was mainly because it is mirrored through Harry but do we really know who Lily was? Not really. She is seen first and foremost as a mother who sacrificed her life and love for Harry and is defined by this throughout the series as a beacon of those symbols instead of a person full of love and sacrifice. There’s a difference.

I think my frustration with it stems from the fact that a lot of the male characters are allowed to be morally grey. Sirius, James, Snape, Dumbledore, Grindelwald, and Draco Malfoy are allowed to have morally ambiguous storylines that never undermine who they are as characters and are always offered some sort of redemption. Meanwhile I rarely see the female characters if any straddle this fine line. They are either solely on the good side or the bad side. Mrs. Weasley, Tonks, Professor McGonagall, Aunt Petunia, Luna and Hermione are all placed firmly on this “good” side. Although they are distinguished characters, they are by no means ambiguous. The only ones I would consider to be so is Umbridge, Merope, and to some extent Narcissa. Although if we are judging by moral ambiguity, Umbridge is not really an ambiguous character so much as a “good guy” in the loosest form of the word who is highly, highly annoying and just plain ignorant but really does nothing to redeem herself. The only one that does so in story only is Merope who uses a love potion to manipulate Tom Riddle Sr. to fall in love with her. Though this is incredibly manipulative, the reader understands that she is misguided and the product of an entire life’s worth of abuse. But still that’s really only 2 female characters who would be considered morally grey but that is very little compared with the plethora of ambiguous male characters. 


Phoenixes in HP & the Chamber of Secrets illustrated edition

It wouldn’t be the only example of female characters being erased from having a personality and a character arc. Hermione, herself, the feminist icon, although she has her flaws and her strengths does not have much character development. She is always selflessly serving the main plotline. 

She oftentimes feels like a plot device especially in the last book where she repeatedly gets them out of sticky situations but never actually solves anything. One example is in the Chamber of Secrets where she discovers that the monster in the chamber of secrets is a basilisk. The paper that she finds it in is conveniently discovered by Harry who then proceeds to fight the Basilisk while she is Petrified in the hospital wing. Another prime example is in Luna’s house where they somehow get out with Hermione’s ability to know more spells and assess the situation before the others as well as conveniently having everything in her little bag but the real solutions to kill the Horcruxes come from Harry and Ron even the information to actually kill the Horcruxes came from Hermione. It is clear that Harry and Ron would not have survived without Hermione but it feels like she is being used more as a useful tool than a real person. In terms of character development I have a hard time understanding what Hermione’s ambitions are. To be fair, we don’t really get a good grasp on Ron’s ambitions either but somehow Hermione’s seem more vague to me. It is adamantly clear however, that Ron definitely has more character development. He is allowed to walk out on them and have his own time to figure things out for himself. Hermione does not get that luxury. We also, barely know who her parents are and what they are like which is essentially the character development. On the other hand, we get to know Ron’s brothers and Ginny and how they have shaped Ron’s life views. The only time it has ever been clear has been when she was in the throes of SPEW.

It’s kind of funny that Ron and Hermione are prefects. For all intents and purposes, it is not a surprise that Dumbledore chose Hermione to be a prefect, however, Ron? It is unclear why Ron should be prefect, not because he is incapable of being one but because throughout the series, he has never shown a tendency to rule following or even particularly any tendency towards leadership. His grades aren’t the best either. It was even more uncomfortable to me when Dumbledore told Harry that he did not make him prefect because he thought Harry “had enough to be getting on with.” Harry would literally make the worst prefect ever! He is always getting himself into trouble and getting into other people’s businesses including but not limited to getting out of bed at night, going into Hogsmeade without permission. I’m not saying I wouldn’t do these things if I were in Harry’s shoes but the fact is is that it’s not prefect material. Meanwhile on the other hand, Hermione is the perfect prefect material. She is dedicated to her studies and to the rules making her the ideal role model for young first years. I think it speaks to how Hermione who consistently uses her intellect to get shit done is consistently overshadowed by the boys who dont’ have much but their own intuition to follow. I think it’s a consistent pattern that I see in books and movies where a boys intuition and recklessness is valued over a girl’s intellect.

Dumbledore tells Harry to listen to Hermione when he was talking about Sirius and Kreacher and Occlumency. Time again, Hermione’s opinions are valued less than the boys’. Whether that is a statement on sexism in the world in general that JK Rowling wanted to bring to light or if JK Rowling is subconsciously projected some ingrained sexism into the books, I don’t know. I have a feeling it’s a bit of both although if it is a statement what we only get from it is that Hermione is obnoxious and Harry continues to not listen to her anyways so I’m not exactly sure we are suppose to be siding with Hermione. 

Just because female characters are badass and take no names does not mean that the context itself is feminist. Hermione may be smart and kickass and someone every little girl wants to be, it doesn’t really focus on the fact that she is treated through a feminist lens. She is often seen with the other women of the books as naggy and a complete rule follower. More and more, the male characters are seen to have more distinct personality traits. It also does not negate the fact that although JK Rowling has mentioned in interviews that when you take away physical strength from the equation, witches are just as powerful as wizards. Yet most of the major players of the Harry Potter world are male, the ones who propel the story forward, the ones who have higher positions of authority and even the ones that are deemed the most important to the narrative of the story. For example, the Mauraders are all male. We have Dumbledore (who is essentially a father figure to Harry), Snape (the most tragic of the series), Voldemort (the main villain), most of the people in the Order are male including Kingsley, Moody, Mundungus, and Moody. Most of the Death Eaters are male, Lucius, Wormtail. All of the Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers were male. So really all of the major, major players are male so this statement does not really hold up does it. I also found the characterization of Lavender Brown to be slightly off putting. From someone who has always makes sure her characters are well developed and distinguished it is odd that she would make Lavender Brown such a hysterical, ditzy female. The characterization when even compared to the other small male side characters is jarring. Seamus, Dean, and even Wood have, throughout the series, become more and more complex however small their role is in the book yet Lavender Brown, Alicia Spinnet, Angelina Johnson, and Katie Bell have no distinguishing features. Even Ernie Macmillan who we only saw briefly in the fifth book is more distinct. The lack of distinguishing characteristics to females as opposed to males is disheartening and negates female characters to certain roles rather than seeing them as distinct people on their own.

Image result for molly weasley gifs

Reading Harry Potter again through the feminist lens has made me realize the extent that the books do not live up to feminist critique. It can be said, however, that the book definitely have feminist aspects to it which I totally agree with but it is not entirely faultless. I will always love these books but I bear these in mind that Harry Potter is not infallible.


A Discussion of 2 Modern Pride and Prejudice Retellings

Book Discussion, Uncategorized

I wasn’t satisfied after I read Eligible and I knew a little of why I was so dissatisfied with Eligible as a Pride and Prejudice retelling.

Image result for eligible book


But it made me nostalgic for other P&P retellings, my favorite of which is the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. So I rewatched it and it only made the problems with Eligible that much more glaring.

Image result for the lizzie bennet diaries logo

And while I think Eligible does some interesting things to the timeless tale, I think ultimately it fails to create a modern context that is proportional to the events of the original Pride and Prejudice. Major Spoilers for both below.

So my first biggest problem with Eligible was how major events were translated to the modern day. Most of them just seemed forced. The biggest one, of course, would be Lydia’s elopement with Ham in Vegas where it was also revealed that Ham is a transgender male. My first problem with that is the way that Ham is revealed to be transgender. It was revealed at the very end of a chapter and written in a way that was very obviously meant to be there for shock factor which is not impressive. Using a person’s identity as a shock factor makes it less about the person in question and more about the reader’s and the other characters’ reactions to the person, using the person as a plot device for another character’s emotional angst, in this case, Mrs. Bennett. In LBD, Lydia’s significant event was the sex tape with George Wickham. I thought this event was really interesting and works so well for the modern day because in the original, Lydia eloping was a huge deal in Austen’s time period, more so because of the blow it would have on Lydia’s reputation as a woman of chastity and serves to emphasize what a money grabbing asshole Wickham was. Eloping now just doesn’t have the same connotation. The fact that Lydia eloped with a transgender person also has nothing to do with her sexual reputation. It feels as if Sittenfeld wanted to throw something out there that felt big but instead ended up feeling anticlimactic because it honestly didn’t change the story that much. This also felt true to me because we really barely got to see Lydia and Ham throughout the book and therefore, we barely got to really know them as characters. In LBD, the sex tape felt like a shocking blow because we’ve gotten to know Lydia and her struggles and so we feel sympathy and pain for her. But the storyline also serves dual purposes to reveal the extent of Elizabeth’s ignorance and dismissal of Lydia as a “slut” and “party” girl. In Eligible, it affects no one except Mrs. Bennet’s acceptance of trans people. Unfortunately, that also makes Darcy’s grand gesture feel not-so-grand. In Eligible, he only is prepared to try and persuade Mrs. Bennet of accepting Ham by saying it is a disorder which in and of itself is a little problematic but in LBD it feels more grand, since I mean he did buy out the whole company for Lizzie (swoon). Darcy’s grand gesture should be a gesture of sacrifice because up until this point we have only known Darcy to look down upon Elizabeth’s family and status but by doing this, he truly shows how much of his status and wealth he is willing to give up for Elizabeth which is what makes it so swoon worthy. The other big event that I felt LBD did better was Collins’ proposal. In Eligible, he’s not really a cousin but he still proposes to her. I really liked the twist that LBD brought to the Collins storyline because it just fits with the modern storyline and still feels relevant to who Lizzie and Charlotte are as characters. Admittedly though, the characters in Eligible are a lot older (late 30’s) so it feels more right that Charlotte would accept a marriage proposal from Collins.

But it still didn’t make as much sense in Eligible because we barely got to know Charlotte as Charlotte. In LBD, we understand why she would take Collins’s job offer, because she is practical and in a financial situation that doesn’t allow her to explore other options but we also understand why Elizabeth wouldn’t want Charlotte to settle for this job when she knows Charlotte has a lot of potential. It fits because in the modern age, we are always at odds with the jobs we accept and we always wonder whether we are just settling or if there was something else we were always meant to do. And, of course, like Charlotte, we often times have family obligations and financial crises that prevent us from pursuing the job that we would have wanted and take the jobs that are offered to us. At least, in my experience, we are less worried about abrupt marriage proposals from people we barely know. If a modern P&P retelling intends to show an audience how the original source material the themes and concepts of social class and social stigma can still translate to the modern day, it is better, to me, if the events themselves were not just inserted into the story but with different names. By making it socially relevant, we can see how P&P has withstood the test of time. Not as major, but the part when Lizzie walked to the hospital instead of getting a ride because apparently there are no ubers yet was kind of dumb to be honest and it felt like something forced to obviously reference to the original Pride and Prejudice and could not have stood on its own without the original source material.

The other problem I had with Eligible was the extent that the characters were explored. Even though the book was long enough to do so, I still felt as though the essence of these characters weren’t explored enough. It’s hard to recapture what is so charismatic and well-loved about Elizabeth Bennet even after all these years later. I did like how in Eligible, we see that Elizabeth is an older heroine (I think 38?) and I thought it was interesting how Sittenfeld interpreted the modern day “spinster” age. In terms of personality, however, I felt as though Elizabeth was just a combination of some of Jane Austen’s Elizabeth’s traits but didn’t develop a personality of her own so she was only a shadow of the original Elizabeth Bennett. I think something that was explored well, however, was her relationship with Jasper Wick (Wickham) who she’s been in a pseudo relationship for some 2 decades. Readers see he is basically an asshole with only semi good intentions but Lizzie doesn’t see that until way later in the book and thought that was really fitting how blinded Lizzie is sometimes. But in terms of her relationships with the other side characters like Lydia and Mrs. Bennet, we can only take them at face value. Mrs. Bennet is just as crazy and narrow-minded about getting her daughters married. In LBD, Mrs. Bennet is exactly the same so we think because everything we know about her is through Lizzie’s perspective. But as you move along through the series, you begin to question whether Mrs. Bennet is really as crazy as Lizzie makes her out to be. And this is such a good case of using the unreliable narrator as Lizzie should be. She is loyal and witty but also very, as you can guess, proud and judgmental. She’s often wrong about the right people and even wrong about the wrong people as well. We constantly see Jane and Charlotte telling her to be nice and pretty much everyone else knows that Darcy likes her way before Lizzie will admit it to herself.

Darcy, on the other hand, is ok in Eligible. As you might expect, he is offhand and aloof and perfectly enjoyable. In Eligible, he is a doctor, in LBD he is the owner of Pemberley Digital, in the original, I believe he is a wealthy landowner, you can see which interpretation I prefer. In LBD, we are constantly reminded that Darcy “always takes care of the people he loves” but of course, to Lizzie, he is anything but. In Eligible, we see that he is mostly misunderstood. But I like that in LBD, he serves as the perfect foil for Lizzie. Lizzie thinks she is nothing like Darcy but we can see that there are a lot of similarities. They both like to think they take care of their family and friends by meddling in their affairs; they are very proud people and are quick to make judgments about people and are hesitant to give second chances. There’s a certain level of truth to everyone’s perspective in LBD.  Yes, Darcy was wrong for essentially breaking up Jane’s and Bing’s relationship but Bing was also wrong for listening to Caroline so blindly. In Eligible, I felt as though there was less nuance and I didn’t particularly care if they got together or not, there is less of a foil, less of a pull and push.

In terms of style, they’re both consumable in very short formats. While Eligible has extremely short chapters (some only a paragraph long), LBD consists of 100 episodes, some only 3 minutes long. Because of this format, they’re both very easy and fast to consume. I really love that I couldn’t stop reading or watching either of them. I had to know what happened even though I obviously already knew what was going to happen. I think it’s vital to a retelling that even when you know the story by heart, you still read reincarnations as if this story hasn’t been done before. With Eligible, I was almost just waiting for the events to occur because I think it wasn’t enough for me to only be attached to the characters. In LBD, the vlog format allows me to really know Lizzie as a person and her struggles with being a graduate student etc. etc. However, with Eligible, it seems as though all the set up was used so the relevant plot points (ie Jane and Lizzie’s past relationships and working as a magazine editor for Mascara) could work instead of really building a character. And because of that, I never got a real sense of her deep relationship with her sisters (except maybe Jane) and especially her parents. In the vlog format, I suppose having her mannerisms portrayed on screen is pretty helpful to gauging what she’s like as a person. We know that she likes to hide under the guise of other people’s problems. She employs costume theater so we can get a gauge on what her perception of other people is. Sometimes you do have to suspend your disbelief with the whole who-is-watching these vlogs and there is so much personal information going out in these vlogs that no sane person would probably reveal on camera nowadays but it didn’t bother me too much. I also liked the vlog format because much like the book, other people (like Darcy and Wickham) aren’t revealed until much later in the series so it kind of builds up that anticipation.The important thing is I understand Lizzie’s limited perspective.

And half the fun of reading retellings is finding all the Easter eggs. I really liked reading about both. I read Eligible eagerly anticipating the events that I knew were going to happen. I liked how in LBD, Mary is their cousin and Kitty is actually a kitty, that was cute. I also liked how Bingley was translated as Bing Lee. I liked that Pemberley was the name of Darcy’s manor in Eligible and in LBD, it was the name of Darcy’s company. Just to name a few.

But, overall, I really think LBD’s retelling of P&P was a lot more successful than Eligible’s. Let me know if you’ve watched LBD or read Eligible and if you thought it was a successful retelling. Do you like modern P&P retellings? If so, do you have a favorite, I would love to know because I’ll never get tired of P&P.


Discussion: My favorite romantic tropes

Book Discussion, Uncategorized

In the grand scheme of things, shipping is probably goes at the bottom of the list of things of importance. But shipping has always been and will probably always be important to me. I might be a pessimist at times but in my heart of hearts I will always be a lover of love stories, preferably ones with HEAs. So let’s talk about love stories and romance but more specifically, what makes a couple an OTP for me? What are some tropes on romance that I will devour again and again? 

Perhaps the most important thing to me in order to get me to ship a couple is to ask do I like them as individuals and can they exist as individuals on their own with a world apart from who they love. Love is a uniting of two people. How can I like them together if I don’t like them apart or if I get more development for one character and not the other how can I feel that they really love each other? This is where all these romance tropes are born. I love Kaz and Inej from Six of Crows because they are so independent from each other makes it more special when they come together, the fact that they are so independent lets the other person figures things out on their own while still silently supporting each other. Inej never tries to change Kaz and vice versa, but she won’t give up who she is for him.  It’s a reason why I’ve never really liked Edward and Bella from Twilight, Bella of course wanting to be a vampire solely because of Edward. What does she even like?

It sounds sort of weird but one of the most important things to an OTP for me and maybe the most important thing is their wit/banter or their chemistry with each other. You might be thinking, umm what about respect? honesty? Nope, it’s chemistry. It’s that initial attraction, something about these two people that makes you interested in them. It can start in a meet cute or some sort of romantic plot device to have them realize their feelings for each other. After that, it’s where the fun part comes in. Most if not all romances can be boiled down to a trope but when these tropes are executed well, an OTP is born.

  1. The slow burn-usually culminates in a kiss after lots and lots of angst

My favorite couples of all time have been slow-burn, sometimes so painfully slowburn. Percy and Annabeth from the Percy Jackson series are one of my favorite slow-burns that felt so completely natural and lovable. It’s even more lovable because we get to see them grow up together from kids to young adults and it’s just so heartwarming. Chuck and Sarah from Chuck were also extremely slow burn mostly because Sarah had trust issues but it just felt all the more natural and sweet when they did get together.

Image result for viria percabeth

Percy and Annabeth (I forgot where I got this but it’s not mine)

It’s important to note that even though I like slow-burn relationships, there’s still an initial spark to them that made me want to ship them in the first place. I love Arin and Kestrel‘s from The Winner’s trilogy initial tension but like mindedness in their wit and banter which made their slow-burn all the more heart achingly angsty.  Pam and Jim from the Office. I really got to see how they’ve changed over the course of the seasons and having them finally be together was just perfect

Image result for arin x kestrel fanart

Arin and Kestrel playing Bite and Sting :3 (Credit)

2. Dynamic Duo-Two people are similar and capable in ways and just are there to mentally support the other

I love this trope because we get to see dynamic duos just take on the world together and the other half knows that the other person can handle shit and just mentally supports them. This is why I love Leslie and Ben from Parks and Recreation because they are so supportive of each other even as they have their own big ambitions. I also really like this trope  because it gives both parties a chance to save the other and have a battle of wills.My

Famous hand-holding scene in 2×05 

favorite non-canon couple is Shiro and Allura from Voltron. They’re both really intense leaders that feel the need to take on burdens and responsibilities for the rest of the team. But they often disagree strongly with each other and they’re kind of each other’s voice of reason. It’s all the more satisfying when they have their moment of happiness. My other favorite non-canon couple for this trope that I’ve been shipping for years is Eragon and Arya from the Inheritance cycle. And did my shipping pay off??? Nope, Christopher Paolini just decided to leave me hanging..

One ship that does this trope well in my opinion is Once Upon a Time’s Regina and Robin. I don’t even watch the show and I know what happens to Robin but holy shit, this ship is so much better to me than Captain Swan. I just completely love their strength but understanding that they can be vulnerable with each other without undermining that strength. Another dynamic duo that I ship and I don’t even watch the show but I love their gifs on Tumblr is Bellamy and Clarke from The 100. Again, the whole they’re both leaders

Phillip and Elizabeth 

and they subtly support one another is my jam. One show that I recently started watching, The Americans also does this well; Phillip and Elizabeth are already on my top OTP list because not only are they a great dynamic duo (they both kick ass and take no names), but their well-being depends on them forming sexual and romantic connections with other people but somehow the show is able to convey that they have a special understanding for each other and their silent support of one another gives me life despite their deepest reservations about the other. And speaking of silent support, San and Ashitaka and San from Princess Mononoke I love too because they like each other but they realize they have a duty to other people besides themselves and that kind of selflessness makes me love them all the more.

3. Weird meets weird- one person’s weird is perfect for another person’s weird

Every person is some level of weird and I like this trope because it makes me believe that there is someone on that same type and level of weirdness that just makes them perfect together. Probably the ultimate example of this is April and Andy from Parks and

Jimmy x Gretchen

Recreation. April is eternally annoyed and cynical. Andy eternally naive and optimistic. But somehow their eccentric humor and personalities just mesh and it’s just so cute. Gretchen and Jimmy from You’re the Worst are both terrible and pessimistic people that shouldn’t be in a relationship with anyone decent but somehow you just love the two of them together because they just get each other and they kind of throw societal expectations of what should happen in a relationship down the drain.  The opposite of that would be Jake and Amy from Brooklyn Nine Nine. They’re both too pure for this world but they’re nerds on the inside so they just meld p

Jake x Amy ❤ 

erfectly together. My other favorite workplace couple is Jonah and Amy from Superstore (they’re not together…yet..). On the surface, they seem like the stereotypical no-nonsense girl and the idealistic guy trope but as the episodes go on, you realize that they are so similar. They love getting into other people’s business and both have the same core views about the workplace. I love them so much

4. Witty Playfulness- Usually consists of witty banter and being playful with another person that they’re usually not with others

I normally make it a rule not to ship real life people together because I don’t truly know them but usually if they have a video together or act together, I just find myself loving their dynamic. I love this trope because it’s so telling of how their minds think and it just shows that they have the same type of humor. Haven’t you ever talked to a person that did not have the same humor as you and just felt awkward. Like can I really be with someone who doesn’t understand memes?? (jk, but not jk, but jk). This is why I’m in love with

Wow please tell me you two are back together please… 

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone‘s relationship ever since I saw them in The Amazing SpiderMan. Like I’m in this for life. Just look at any interviews they have together. Any and you cannot deny that they’re meant to be (i’m being dramatic). I know that they broke up and I respect that but have you seen the things they say about each other even now? Also they both just got nominated for Oscars and they hugged during the BAFTAs just two days ago. Don’t tell me love ain’t real.

For some reason, I also love Marzia and Felix who both have really popular Youtube channels. They’re so adorable. I’ve literally watched all their videos together.

5. Opposites Attract-Bad boy meets good girl or even better, bad girl meets good boy

In real life, this would more likely not happen because statistically, you’re more likely to be with someone who is more similar to you than not. I like seeing how two people who never really like each other because of who they are end up falling for each other anyway or somehow end up spending time together because of some unforeseen circumstance. The ultimate one for me right now (non-canon) is Haley and Andy from Modern Family. I mean she’s like this popular girl who’s too cool for school. He’s not that…cool and pretty nerdy but it just works. Another perfect example of the opposites attract is Ryuuji and Taiga from Toradora. Ryuuji is sweet and kind and loves doing housework and cooking but he has a face that makes him unapproachable to many people. Taiga, on the other hand, is super cute and short but she is actually irascible and has a really bad temper. Their interactions are just hilarious because they’re so different. Nina and Matthias from Six of Crows is kind of in that same vein. Nina is flirtatious and confident, Matthias more reserved and conservative and that just makes their interactions so interesting and fun to read because there’s always that tension, having these two personalities at odds with one another. The most recent one that I ship is Jonathan and Nancy from Stranger Things. I
know, I know, that the writers dared to actually have Steve undergo character development and that was such a pleasant surprise but please, you just can’t give me angsty stares and not have me ship Jancy. Again, I love the trope because these two people would have never crossed paths if it hadn’t been for the mystery of the strange creature.


6. Star-Crossed Lovers/Forbidden Love

This trope is so cliche but I eat it up like no other. I think, if done right, it’s actually one of the most insightful romantic tropes to be used. Forbidden love usually means there’s some societal, cultural, or familial aspect in the way of two people getting together. And if done right, this trope can prove what love makes people do. What are they willing to sacrifice for another and isn’t that one of the most romantic things of all? To defy the selfish nature of survival and humanity itself. My ultimate couple for this one has to Sharzhad and Khalid. They’re honestly one of my favorite couples in general of all time but Renee Ahdieh really plays this trope well because they will never apologize for loving the other person even though Khalid supposedly killed her best friend and Sharzhad is supposed to die.

Also, Khalid definitely knows how to talk.

They never deny their attraction to the other person which is common in forbidden love stories. The other couple that comes to mind is Evan and Maise from Unteachable because they understand how wrong on paper it is but they are attracted to each other and they’ll hide it but they won’t deny their attraction.

7. Rivals-Always competing against one another but everyone knows they should just hook up already

I think I first fell in love with this trope surprisingly when I read The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare himself. It was further cemented when I read The Night Circus, the two magicians, Celia and Marco being actual rivals in a deadly, magical game. I like this trope because it gives an automatic level of sexual tension above the others and it makes it so much more sweet when they do find common ground. This was especially true when I started shipping Keith and Lance from Voltron. They’re always bickering and trying to outdo the other person but when they share a serious moment, it is out of this world. Please be canon!!

And how could I forget Elizabeth and Darcy, always trying to outsass the other. Jane Austen probably knew what sexual tension was before it was even a thing.

8. Friends to Lovers

This trope is precious because often the feelings of love aren’t realized until something happens but that deep-seated love was always there even if the characters don’t see it but the audience does. Percabeth is a classic YA one but I also love Emma and Knightley from Emma and the webseries. Emma and Knightley have such a deep knowledge of the other person and it’s so endearing to watch them voice what the other person is already thinking.


9. Fake Relationship

This is my most recent favorite that I didn’t even know I liked but like friends to lovers, it deals with the concept of being so sure that the other person is just a friend or someone you thought was one thing to you but it turns out to be another. Fake relationships are fun because the person is using the other person to get someone else so they think they won’t fall for the other person. My favorite one so far is Peter and Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve loved Before. I also liked Gia and Hayden from The Fill-In Boyfriend though it’s not as well developed or endearing as Peter and Lara Jean.

OMG HOW ADORABLE. It’s Kitty, Lara Jean, and Peter!!  Credit

Of course, great OTPs will do these tropes well but they are also some combination of these tropes. Percy and Annabeth are a combination of the dynamic duo, the slow burn, the playfulness and a few shades of the opposites attract. What are some of your favorite tropes and your favorite otps that fall under these tropes. I obviously need more pairings to ship…obviously. I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and if these ships have taught me anything, if you are in a good relationship, you’ll feel the love and respect you deserve everyday 🙂






Discussion: Gratuitous Violence vs Conservative Sex in (mostly) YA

Book Discussion, Uncategorized

I was inspired to write this post after I was listening to a recent Writingexcuses podcast featuring the very popular horror author, Darren Shan who as you might know wrote the Cirque de Freak series which is a horror series for a middle grade/YA audience along with a series of other adult and YA horror. Brandon Sanderson posed the question, “Is there anything you can’t do when writing horror for children? and Shan’s responsImage result for lord loss darren shane was:

One thing I’ve found with my editors and publishers is sex. You can be as violent as you want. [I wrote a book called] Lord Loss and [there’s a scene where] a boy walks into a bedroom, his father’s hanging upside down from the ceiling and his head’s chopped off, his mother’s ripped to pieces, his sister’s been cut in two and a demon’s behind her back moving her hands like puppets and that was all acceptable.

It seems to be this growing trend or existing trend I suppose that the more grittier and violent a YA book is, especially SFF and horror, the more authentic it is. This was some of the praise for An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. Laia exists in a world where you see violence around every corner and promises of rape at several points. It’s not the first YA book to do this although I have to admit I think An Ember in the Ashes is the more graphic than most other YA fantasies out there. This was only confirmed in the sequel, A Torch Against the Night. Tahir is definitely not afraid to chop off some heads and cut off some fingers. But usually a statement like that has been met with praise. But now I wonder, is it something to praise? In some ways, I attribute this Image result for game of thrones season 6 postertrend to Game of Thrones. Now I’ve read the first book but haven’t read the rest nor have I seen the TV show. I don’t mind hearing spoilers so usually when my friends tell me about last night’s Game of Throne episode, they’re usually talking how violently this person was killed or how many people died this episode. I learned to equate, “that episode was so good” with it’s probably because something really violent happened. Everyone tells me not to get attached to the characters because they’ll die but the thing is I like getting attached to characters and honestly what’s the point if everyone dies? What’s the point of showing such an overtly violent world? I understand I’m really oversimplifying GoT, but I’m only talking specifically about the violence. I see the appeal of dark and gritty fantasy worlds and seeing characters pushed to their limits. It’s in fact, why the stakes feel so high in An Ember in the Ashes. but at the same time aren’t there other creative and interesting ways to develop a harsh world, a cruel character without just escalating a narrow definition of violence?

I’m currently reading Half the World by Joe Abercrombie and it kind of proves my point of the “narrow definition of violence” where a harsh world is depicted only through how violent (how many stabbings, killings, deaths) it is. Many reviewers have praised that the more violence there is, especially in YA, the more realistic it is. But it’s funny because the amount of violence portrayed versus the amount of sex portrayed doesn’t feel like it’s correlated at least in YA. In adult books, there seems to be a more equal balance between the two.

Darren Shan mentions that all that violence in that one particular scene of his book was allowed but what about sex? He elaborated that:

In my vampire series Cirque Du Freak, at one point there’s this process that vampires go through which I had called vampuberty and my publisher said no, you cannot say ‘vampuberty’, we must not mention anything that has any slight sexual connotation whatsoever.

I found that disheartening because that means it’s ok for kids to read about heads getting chopped off and people being cut in half but it’s not ok to mention puberty? A confusing but natural process that affects every kid at some point? Now my problem is not with how much violence is portrayed but the fact that such a triggering scene was assumed to be well handled by kids but things like puberty were supposedly “too adult” and must be kept in the dark like a bad secret. According to Shan, the reasoning behind the ban on vampuberty was because “teenage boys [didn’t] want to talk about sex or read about sex” which is an assumption that is laughable at best. I think it’s a shame to be honest, because this is a real opportunity to teach young boys (and girls) about something that is in reality, just very confusing and maybe something like that mentioned in a book would have helped them better understand it. Even in YA books with copious amounts of violence, the romances are, for the most part, conservative and chaste eImage result for wither lauren destefanospecially regarding the main character. Think of The Hunger Games trilogy where kids are literally killing each other to the death (Rue!) but the romance itself is almost too afraid to show itself. I cannot tell you how many times the main character “blushed” or how much they made puppy eyes at each other in YA. To be fair, it might have to do with the fact that violence is prevalent at any age but the concept of sex is relatively new to teenagers. By the way,
I’m mentioning this under the assumption that the more violent a world is, the more sex there should be although that theory is probably inaccurate. I’m merely pointing out the trend that it is perfectly acceptable to input more violence into a book but the amount of sex or even sexual connotation has stayed relatively the same. In the YA novel, Wither by Lauren Destefano, a man marries 3 girls including our main character. He proceeds to have sex with his other two wives (consensual if I remember) but the main character never does have sex with him or vice versa because that would just be distasteful wouldn’t it.

I suppose it also has to do with the fact that America is in reality a conservative country. I’ve heard of many libraries that ban books with consensual sex in them but allow books that have graphic rape in them (a lot of these books were for required reading) because that totally makes sense. Even in books like Divergent, sexual assault is more graphic than the actual romance. Let’s have high schoolers learn about rape but not about consenting and pleasurable sex between two people!

It obviously looks like I’m advocating for less violence and more sex in this post..lol..but my point is that maybe that the more violent a book is does not make it any more authentic and realistic and that sex should be more openly talked about because consensual sex is kind of important, ya know?

Let me know your thoughts on what I’ve discussed!



Discussion: The D-word, Diversity

Book Discussion, Misc, Uncategorized

There seems to be some rekindling of this issue in recent weeks. And I used to think it was obvious why we needed diversity. We want to see ourselves represented in the media and because our world does not consist of just white cisgendered males. But lately I’ve been seeing this trend where when someone reads a book or watches something with a diverse cImage result for star trek uhura zoe saldanaharacter, the character is somehow endlessly praised just for being “diverse”. But diversity comes with a lot of stipulations than just simply inserting a “diverse” character. Take, for example,
Uhura (Zoe Saldana) from the new reboot Star Trek who is the only recurring woman of color in this series. In every single interview, Zoe is lauded for being a woman of color and being a role model to little black girls as if the color of her skin is her only merit never mind the fact that she might be a good actress or anything. But the sad thing is even though we have come many, many years from the original Star Trek when seeing a black woman on screen was revolutionary, we haven’t come that far. She does not have much to do in these movies other than being the obligated “badass” woman.

Image result for peggy carterAnd that’s kind of my problem with the way diversity is being interpreted now. It seeks to alienate and make that story the only story. In Captain America, Peggy Carter is really the only important female character in the entire movie. So people see her as a beacon of feminism and badassery even though she doesn’t even have that much to do in the movie. And the only thing we see when we see her is that she’s a woman and she’s here to represent all womankind whereas there are numerous male characters in the movie that are defined by their traits and not be seen as just a man. So Carter has to be everything. She has to be strong, intelligent, fierce, vulnerable, and feminine. The dangers of a single story as feminist and literary writer Chimamanda Agozi Adichie would say.

I also use to say that diversity is important because we have to be inclusive of other types of people in all different walks of life but in our daily lives, we may be inclusive but we also practice segregation. On school campuses, there are things like Chinese Student Association or VSA or Asian Peer Mentors that may not technically exclude other people but subconsciously does. We seek diversity but we also seek community among people that are similar to us so that we feel less alone.


And then there is also of course the continuing trend of using diversity as a sort of moral weapon. I watched Bre Fauchuex’s video on her problem with diversity. She had a lot ofImage result for empire of storms points that I don’t agree with but she does make a good point about others. She mentions that people have been attacking authors like Victoria Schwab for not including people of color in her books. I’ve been seeing this around as well on Tumblr and Twitter where people were accusing Sarah J Maas of not including queer characters and people of color in her books which I don’t really understand because Sarah J Maas is not the first nor the last author to not include “diverse” people in her books and yet I don’t see people hating on Brandon Sanderson for not being diverse in his books. But I think it should be noted that the meer fact that we are attacking authors on this issue is because we need more diversity and more accurate diversity in the first place but I think we should address the issue differently rather than sending hate.

Nevertheless I do still believe in diversity wholeheartedly but I want to advise using the word more effectively and meaningfully.

*Some questions I pondered while making this post but didn’t know how to discuss:

If diversity is supposed to represent the real world, how realistic is it suppose to be? How much diversity is “realistic”?

Why do we not criticize literature from China, Japan, Senegal for not being diverse, for not featuring people of other ethnicities and races but we do with American or Western literature?

So we keep talking about diversity but can we do? What can we do to do better? To be active in applying diversity? Here are my suggestions that I try to personally apply.  

  1. Consume diversely, but more importantly, wisely.

Don’t just read a book featuring an Muslim American for #diversathon and say “hey, I read a book featuring a Muslim protagonist”, pat yourself on the shoulder for being a moral person, and then be done. Don’t treat it as a checklist and learn something from it. Does the author have anything to say about the culture that’s different? What is a cultural value that’s different than others? From your own? Is it even making a statement? Or is it just a protagonist that just so happens to be x, y, and z (because we definitely need those too)? Don’t be like that person that says I read To Kill a Mockingbird and say I cannot be a racist.

If we should be looking at a person’s character instead of the color of their skin, or their gender or whatever as fantasy author Robin Hobb says, then why not be diverse? The very fact that we need a diversathon is a little annoying to me personally because it’s just a week-long event. Shouldn’t we be reading diversely all the time?

2. Forgive and critique.

Nobody thinks they’re being ignorant until they are told they are. But we should not be afraid to learn from them. And if you are a consumer, the one critiquing these works, you will only anger and alienate people if you bash them and make them even less likely to listen to you. Do not make an attack on ignorance an attack on the person. We all have our ingrained prejudices that we cannot undo; we can only strive to do better. Today, everyone is afraid of offending someone and that’s because we are so quick to judge and hate. Instead forgive and critique.

3. Do not make one person the sole representative of their race/gender/sexual orientation etc.

Image result for wonder woman gal gadotWhy can Wonder Woman only be a role model to little girls? Why is Lupita Nyongo only a role model to black girls? Nobody’s story should represent the entirety of a peoples’ experience because that leads to generalization and stereotypes. In fact, this is the reason why we still have work to do in terms of diversity. We have a plethora of amazing male superheroes and not so amazing male superheroes but we only have one Muslim superheroine (Ms. Marvel). Some readers have said that her parents are stereotypes of Muslim tradition, others disagree but if we had more Muslim superheroes

4. And the most important to me, seek out media that is different from your own viewpoint and be aware.

If you’re not a Christian, read Christian fiction even if you might not agree. If you are or even if you’re not Asian, watch Fresh off the Boat. If you’re not black, watch Black-ish. And so on and so forth. Because we want diversity so we can see our stories represented, but we want other people to know how dangerous a single story can be, that we are more than our stereotypes and that we should not generalized.

Image result for fresh off the boatImage result for blackish

It’s the reason why Muslim Americans are now being segregated out of restaurants because of the pure fact that they are believed to be terrorists. Generalization at its finest. If we take the time to appreciate other people’s stories that are maybe vastly different than our own, maybe we realize that our differences are only the fact that we are afraid of what we don’t know. And maybe then, the argument of “writing what you know” can be obsolete.

I read some lovely posts on diversity this week that say things so much more eloquently than I do and that inspired me to write this post:

Marlon James (author of A History of Seven Killings): ‘Why I’m (Almost) Done Talking About Diversity’

CW over @ReadThinkPonder: My Problem With the World Diverse and Misrepresentation vs. No Representation


Discussion: Is Age Just a Number?

Book Discussion, Misc, Uncategorized

I finally convinced my sister to read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and she came home one day after reading it and she asked me “Did you know Kaz was 17?”

Subconsciously I probably did. Out loud, it just sounded weird. He is the head of a renowned gang and is suppose to commit a heist of one of the most secure prisons in the Grisha world which is a pretty heavy burden for a 17 year old if I do say so. I think in my head, he was around my age (22) although I inadvertently make a lot of YA protagonists my age in my head especially in YA fantasy and scifi because if I’m to be honest, I sometimes think YA protagonists are a little young in proportion to the things they have to do. This is more in regards to YA fantasy because in YA contemporary, the protagonist is usually dealing with real life problems while in high school. If any older, it would just be New Adult, more or less, although there are obviously exceptions.

Because I was curious as to the number of protagonists belonged to which age category, I made a little infographic sampling a number of YA books and the ages of the main protagonists, their age on the left and their pictures on the right.



Some disclaimers:

*Books chosen pretty much randomly out of the YA books. This is a very small sample of YA SFF out there and is not an extensive representation of the genre as a whole. I know I’ve forgotten a lot, books like Shadow and Bone trilogy, Bitter Kingdom trilogy, Clockwork Princess, Twilight etc. etc.

*Included only YA fantasy and scifi

*All pictures from Google images. 

*All ages found on their respective Wikias. There may be some discrepancies.

First of all, I think it’s worth noting that these people–kids–essentially have pretty intense responsibilities and have already gone through a lot in life. Sharzhad already has her best friend killed and has already found her true love. June has a freaking government position basically while the other officials are adults if I’m not mistaken. Katniss is the face of a revolution. Caelaena is considered the best assassin in the land. And of course, Harry defeats Voldemort at the old, old age of 17. 17.

Image result for harry defeating voldemort

That’s pretty crazy if you think about it. I understand in fantasy that usually kids grow up faster than usual because the world they live in is usually very harsh like in An Ember in the Ashes. But still it makes me wonder why these ages were even chosen. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for Caelaena to be a little older in order to really be the best assassin in the land. Sixteen is definitely the most popular age in YA which is understandable especially if you live in America. Even Veronica Roth once mentioned that she chose to make Tris 16 because it’s sort of a coming of age age, an age where everything changes and you are faced with a lot of decisions. But what does it say when the peak of your experiences in life happen in your teenage years?

I suppose in many ways I find it unbelievable because of my own experience. I mean I didn’t know what the heck I was doing when I was 16. I was young and very naive. I suppose the age debate in YA can go both ways. It’s true that I could have found some good role models who have a greater maturity level (for the most part) and are faced with life and death situations that I don’t have to think about but could still help me with my own decisions. Also, the sense of power and control that we have as teens isn’t very much so to see these protagonists take control of their lives and discover who they are is very gratifying. On the other hand, what is up with all these kids that apparently rule the world and all the adults are just really dumb entities that are just there.

It’s also worth noting, even though I don’t know what to make of it, that most of the female protagonists are on the younger end of the age spectrum, most being 16 and 17 with none that I can think of being 20 and older and still be considered to be YA. Most of the male protagonists are on the older end of the spectrum. Making this infographic also made me realize how odd some of the relationship age differences are. For example, Cress is 16 but she’s in a relationship with Thorne who is 20. And most weird is probably Rose who is 17 but becomes romantically involved with Dimitri who is um, 24 (lol).


*copied again so you don’t have to keep scrolling up to peruse the graph

The teen years are very different from your 20’s and in my opinion should not be interchangeable but oftentimes, when there are YA adaptations turned into movies, Image result for four and tris divergentthe actors are usually a lot older than their supposed age in the books and sometimes the characters’ ages are even changed in order to correlate more with the actors’ ages. For example, Four is suppose to be 18 in the books but he’s 24 in the movies, a significant age gap. Percy Jackson, played by Logan Lerman, was suppose to be 12 in the books but changed to 16. I’m not sure how old Clary Fray is suppose to be but the actress playing her in Shadowhunters is 20 and the actor playing Jace is 26 which is at least 3 years older than they should be. Image result for miss peregrine's home for peculiar children asa butterfieldThe show looks like a bunch of 20 year olds hanging out instead of teens. And most recently, Jacob from Ms. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is suppose to be 16 but he’s played by the lovely
Asa Butterfield who is 19 (although to be fair, Asa looks really young). I understand that there’s a bunch of schooling issues that go on with child actors but one wonders what it would be like if they had cast actors that were the correct age or would it have  been too jarring to see?

I suppose it all comes down to realism for me. Some characters could be 16 but are very mature. I think what is off-putting to me was the fact that a lot of the characters surrounding these very young protagonists are actually adults. It’s realistic to me when it comes to Harry Potter because he always has guidance from the more experienced people around him and you can feel what a burden he has at such a young age while dealing the usual “teenage stuff” like crushes, homework, and first kisses; although I do admit it’s a very first-world teenage experience. In many ways, I could interchange these protagonists’ age to something older because their experience is not specific to the teen years like Harry’s is. Scarlet could very well be a 25-year-old instead of an 18-year-old who goes off with Cinder and company to defeat Levana. But what do I know? I mean there are 16 year olds who have gone to the Olympics and have been to war so maybe I’m just too narrow-minded to get out of my own experience.

Image result for shrugs gif

I know that this post literally gave no answers to the questions I posed. But I want to know what you think about age in YA.

  • Are these YA protagonists too young to be saving their worlds?
  • How do you feel about the age gaps and the ratios of girls and boys on the age spectrum?
  • Are some of these ages realistic to the story?
  • I didn’t mention this in the post because it’s too broad a topic but what are your thoughts on the uneven amount of violence versus the relatively chaste sexuality of YA protagonists? Is it an age thing? Societal?


Carolyn Reacts to Negative Amazon Book Reviews

Book Discussion, Misc, Miscellaneous, Uncategorized

When I’m looking up book reviews on Amazon, I can’t tell whether reviewers are being serious or trolling me half the time. But reading the negative reviews are so fun because they’re sometimes just really funny because they’re just..plain..wrong. But anyways, I compiled a few of the funniest ones I’ve encountered recently..

Cress by Marissa Meyer


Girl, if this book doesn’t promote health, positive relationships, I don’t know what does. Also, are you saying I should stop reading this book because it has cooties?? Also, I didn’t know “kissier” was a word.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White


Well…that’s unfortunate. I The spider probably crawled in between the pages while someone was packaging it and the person got scared so they just closed the book on it lol. Glad you enjoyed the book though..

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman


Well first of all, I’m insulted, I haven’t heard from your people yet. Second of all, EFAAAL sounds like a cult. And lastly, I really want to meet these “frieds”.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding


The only thing I got from this was how he/she spelled hell.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen



but also, Jane Austen was satirizing the social norms of her time; it wasn’t necessarily meant to be a romantic book but come on, how can you not like Elizabeth and Darcy together.


I’m pretty sure making Pride and Prejudice a 3D movie is not going to change your attitude about it. I mean maybe if they served you tea in the theater or if you could somehow feel Darcy’s coat? Oh wait, that’s 4D..kind of..


Please calm down..


You’re welcome.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


  1. Please stick to picture books then
  2. Have you lived in this world before?
  3. I hope you took a time machine and saw a movie from 1924 because this book was written in 1925

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers


Yup this book was the whole reason why you felt like throwing away your virginity. And this book contains a lot of rape so I really hope rape does not make you think in a lustful way..

Have you read any funny reviews lately? What are some ridiculous reviews you’ve stumbled across in your years as a reader?


Script Discussion: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Book Discussion, book review, Uncategorized


Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Author: John Tiffany and Jack Thorn

Based on: Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

Genre: Play, Fantasy

Pages: 352

Synopsis: Goodreads


Note: Nonspoiler review first. When you see a spoilers break, everything after is a spoiler until “End of Spoilers”.


While I reading this play, I had two, and only two emotions:


I’m sorry but I actually cannot take this script seriously, much less take it as the CANON 8th story of the Harry Potter saga. First of all, this is fanfiction. Put it any way you like, that JK Rowling approved of it or that JK Rowling had a hand in it or whatever but bottom line is she did. not. write this script which by definition makes it fanfiction. But the worst part is that it felt like reading a fanfiction. It didn’t feel like Harry Potter. Let me break this down.

Mistake #1

Not using the play format to its fullest potential.

I’ve read a lot of positive reviews stating that you won’t get a lot of worldbuilding and character development because it’s a play and I should forgive that because it’s a play. No. I’ve read plenty of plays that manage to build a believable world while also developing really nuanced characters. But here, gone are the magical and inviting descriptions of Hogwarts and Diagon Alley. Gone the adventure and fun and curiosity of the wizarding world. Instead I get some really awkward stage direction like:

“He meets her look. There’s real emotion in this room.”


“Relief floods out of him.”

and even more awkward dialogue which includes one-liners that are meant to be meaningful but just fall flat.

No. I won’t let you do this . . .

If anything, why couldn’t JK Rowling have just written an 8th book and adapted it into a play?

Mistake #2

The ridiculous plot

I can’t really go into it without giving spoilers but it’s ridiculous because it brings so much plot from the previous Harry Potter books and tries to make it relevant like 20 years after it actually happened. You know what I would have done if I was craving previous Harry Potter books? Oh that’s right, I would just reread them. It was completely and utterly pointless. This is where it feels most like fanfiction because fanfiction writers love to think about the possibility of different alternate situations that a book could have played out. Like what if Hermione didn’t marry Ron?and blah blah. This play felt like that. Instead of being a cohesive plot, it just randomly tried to incorporate some events for shock points and nostalgia. Like hey, remember when this sad/happy scene that happened in Goblet of Fire? Here it is again, but in play format! Feel sad! 

Mistake #3

Who are Harry, Ron, and Hermione again?

Harry, Ron, Hermione in Cursed Child felt like mere shells of themselves. Ron is reduced to being the comedic relief, stopping by some scenes to say some meant-to-be funny jokes. I did not see any of Hermione’s know-it-all intelligence and need to always fill in with an answer. Ginny was just there to be Harry’s wife. Rose Granger-Weasley was there to idk, remind us that Ron and Hermione had a kid? and then disappeared for the rest of the play. Where is Teddy Lupin? Dead, for all I know. Snape (yes he appears) says some uncharacteristically nice things. Harry is..not Harry..And I get it, people grow up and they change but really? to the point where I don’t even recognize them?

Mistake #4

Inconsistencies and Inaccuracies

This play deals a lot with Time-Turners and they were so inaccurate and inconsistent plotholes that didn’t make any sense. Transfiguration inaccuracies. Character inconsistencies. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

I gave it a 2 stars because the themes had such potential! The play explores Albus’s relationship with his dad, Harry Potter and what it is like being the son of a celebrity. I liked the continued exploration of Albus and his fear of being sorted into Slytherin and his friendship with Scorpius. Imagine Harry Potter and Draco, archnemeses have sons who are best friends. But none of it had really any depth for me to feel really invested. 

I understand that I have not seen this play yet and a play is meant to be performed but half of the play is the script and a bad script really hinders a performance no matter how good the actors or set designs are.

At this point, the continuation of the Harry Potter series needs to stop. I understand the need for more, I really do. But there’s just too much.. It just doesn’t feel magical anymore. They feel like blatant cash grabs. I’m happy where HP left off and I hope that my imagination can fill in the rest.



Really?? Voldemort had a daughter?? That’s literally the topic of like half of HP fanfics. I hate the I-am-your-father or familial tie trope soooo much. Because it is such a cheap way to create drama and shock. And it wasn’t even done well like in Star Wars. And Voldemort and Bellatrix?? So you’re telling me that somewhere between taking over the world, Voldemort and Bellatrix somehow had sex?? And how convenient since Bellatrix was literally one of the only female Death Eaters we really meet. Honestly that is just an insult to Bellatrix.

Also, am I really suppose to believe that CEDRIC DIGGORY out of all people becomes a Death Eater??? That’s even more unbelievable than Voldemort and Bellatrix. And the reasoning is so stupid too. He gets humiliated and suddenly he wants to be a Death Eater. Really?

Also, Severus actually says

Tell Albus Severus–I’m proud he carries my name.

??????!!! That’s hilarious. Did you literally forget who Snape is?? He hated Harry. Why would he be proud his son carries his name??

I do not believe that Harry would ever say to Albus to not be friends with Scorpius. Harry Potter should be, out of all people, the one to understand how important friendship is and the importance of being able to choose who your friends are.

I’ve heard a lot of people complain about the queerbaiting in this book and how there were so many hints as to Albus and Severus liking each other more but they turned out to just be friends? Idk how I feel about that because Scorpius liked Rose from the beginning I feel but I can see how some people would feel that way because there were some “you’re the only one who understands me” type thing.

I didn’t notice it the first time but people were also saying how it’s bs how Hermione becomes a bitter old spinster if she didn’t marry Ron. Idk how I feel about that because on the one hand it feeds into this stereotype that women who do not marry and become children become pitiful spinsters who are mean but then it wasn’t like Ron turned out great either. He’s kind of a mess at this point. But the reasoning for why he married Padma was so flimsy. So just because he didn’t ask Hermione to the Yule Ball, he ended up marrying Padma..ok..But then now that I think about it is so out of Hermione’s character to just give up on life if she didn’t have Ron..ugh.

I thought you couldn’t let anyone see you if you were using a Time-Turner but Cedric saw Scorpius? Hermione also saw Albus and Severus when they were using the Time Turner for the first time during the Triwizard Tournament.


Let me know what you thought of HP and the Cursed Child! Did it live up to your expectations? Did you love it? Hate it? What do you think of the continuation of the Harry Potter canon? If you want to talk spoilers, just put spoilers in your comments and let’s talk =)




Discussion: On rereading and how a 4-star book became a 2-star book

Book Discussion, book review, Uncategorized

15753977Author: Marie Lu

Categories/Genres: YA, scifi, dystopian

Pages: 305

Previous Rating: 4/5

Reread Rating: 2/5



I have very fond memories of Legend by Marie Lu, an action-packed dystopian YA novel set in future LA. June is one of the Republic’s best students. Day is a wanted criminal. June’s brother, Metias, is killed and June wants revenge. They discover government secrets. While this is happening, a rebel group called the Colonies is always mentioned and there’s also a plague going around because why not. I’m pretty sure it was one of my favorite books at one point and I considered it one of the better YA dystopian books around.

Before I reread it, I only remembered that I liked the romance and that I really liked the conspiracy elements. I thought it was well-written and that the world was well-developed for such a short book.

So I decided to give it a reread and in a surprising turn of events (a rude plot twist), I ended up being severely disappointed to the point where I wanted to time travel back and slap my old reading self and ask myself why I was reading this.

old self: *On the computer* *sees present me*

me: so why exactly did you like this book?? I don’t get it??

old self:

WTF who are you??!!!


old self

she looked a lot like me..

That’s probably one of the sad things about rereading. Sometimes your favorites just don’t hold up and then you realize your nostalgia was filling in the gaps for you once you get further away from the book. You remember the feelings but you don’t remember much else. 

Granted I did read this book almost 6 years ago so the experience of rereading was almost like reading a new book. Almost. It’s more like slipping on an old Halloween costume and finding out that it’s too short and tight now. But anyways this book is classified as a dystopian and now that I’ve reread it, I struggle to really comprehend why it’s classified as such because honestly, nothing about this government is explained. Here are some worldbuilding things that irritated me that I did not notice the first time I read it.

  1. You have to take a Trial test (which sounds like the SAT–I would definitely fail that) and that basically determines whether you get a good or a bad job which I feel like is logistically kind of hard. I mean is it a scantron test?? What if the grader grades it wrong? What if it doesn’t go through the machine right?? What if someloses it ??What if I bubbled in incorrectly but I knew the answer?? So many things could go wrong..

2. There’s also no sense of what the hierarchy of this government is. Like there’s an Elector, also a Commander but no one else?? Like is LA run by two people?? Damn, this is basically hiring a 16-year-old to catch a notorious criminal..makes sense.

3. Oh, there is also a plague which does not seem to exist out of the confines of the plot. The plague affects one person in this entire book and there’s not really any mention of the plague ever..like ok..

I suppose I’m just more way more picky about worldbuilding now. What once was merely an annoyance is now a nuisance that I can’t brush off. It’s also interesting how much scientific inaccuracies bother me now. Take, for example, this quote:

I have what the Republic considers good gene–and better genes make for better soldiers make for better chance of victory against the Colonies.

Do you know how many genes there are?? What do you mean good genes? Genes are good for some things, not good for others. And if she’s talking about intelligence, there really is no such thing as an intelligence gene and even if there are, it depends on the type of nurture you had. Nature vs. nurture and all that.

But honestly, the real question is should I even be bothered by this? I mean so what, if there are scientific inaccuracies. I suppose I care because there’s already a lot of misinformation out there. Maybe it’s an aftereffect of being a science major for four years.

And the thing about reading action-packed books is that the second time you read them, you know what’s going to happen so that air of surprise and anticipation is just not there anymore. You should come for the plot but stay for the characters. Except the characters aren’t the best either. I actually should applaud Marie Lu a little for creating such believable characters within such a short span of time (this book clocks in at 305 pages with a pretty big font too). But that does not stop me from being bored by these characters. June and Day also basically kind of sound the same. June and Day do sound different in the sequels but that does not really come across here. I also read reviews about people complaining about the “instalove” between June and Day and I really didn’t think so back then but now the instalove was hitting me in the face and I’m wondering how I didn’t see it before. They basically start trusting each other like the day after they meet each other. And it’s just basically smooth sailing from there. Now I don’t mind instalove, as long as you build conflict even after they fall for each other like for example The Wrath and the Dawn. I suppose in 6 years I’ve met so many different characters that these characters just don’t cut it anymore.

So after this enlightening experience, I suppose I am now

  1. a more picky reader
  2. I care a lot more about worldbuilding
  3. I need more complexity in my characters
  4. I’m also more attuned to an author’s writing


But here are some questions I’m curious about: when you read a book, are you more attuned to certain aspects more than others? Does your profession allow you to detect some types of inaccuracies more than others? If so, do they bother you while you’re reading? Have you reread a book recently that disappointed you? How much of your preconceived notions when you read it the first time affected your reread of it? How much of nostalgia affected your view of the book after you’ve read it? I would love to hear your thoughts =)