“Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard

RedQueenArtemis

artemisiconIf you frequent the blog you will notice this title looks familiar. That’s because Asteria has already reviewed this blog. Hers is based more on the plot of the book, and mine will probably be a little more spoiler-y.

If you want to read Asteria’s instead, here’s the link – https://thebookhole.wordpress.com/2017/06/29/red-queen-by-victoria-aveyard/

This was another book lent to me by my friend I have mentioned many, many times. Probably because every time I leave there, I leave with an armful of books. When she handed me this one, right away I was pretty sure Asteria had mentioned it, but I couldn’t remember exactly. But, the book sounded really interesting, so I wanted to read it anyway.

Asteria actually gave me the idea to revisit one of her reviews, by revisiting one of my old ones! So, I will try to bring more to the review, instead of just regurgitating what Asteria already said.

Before I get into this, I will say one thing, I did like this book, I truly did. But …HUNGER GAMES. It’s the Hunger Games without the actual games. Main protagonist feels inferior to talented sister, and lives in a society ruled by a severe upper-class and uses their poverty ridden society as weapons, tools, and fun. Protagonist ends up in a situation thanks to an attractive boy, and the upper-class learns she is different from everyone else, and uses her in their battle against the lower-classes and the “terrorists” spawned from rebellion.

Because of the trend of YA novels following the ‘hot topic’, and hunger games and others like it did so well, why not another? So I can’t fault it for that, it IS a formula that works, and there’s an ENTIRE section that follows a single formula with some deviations, and it is one of the best selling sections …Romance, I’m talking about Romance.

Now, with that out of my system, the book does an odd thing where it follows the Hunger Games formula almost word for word, and then it’s like the book becomes self aware and she rips the formula to shreds. Mare (our protagonist) is basically shoe-horned in as a character that stuff just happens to (aka, sexy lamp) she talks about what “she” has done, but it’s more “what people do while she stands around observing”. That was one thing very different from Hunger Games, Katniss had a more active part, where stuff just kind of happens to Mare.The second book is leading up as an almost x-men rip-off, but it may be interesting if she uses the same follow-then-rip-apart theme, and hopefully gives Mare a more active part in the revolution.

The line that startled me, and really brought a self-awareness sense to the book was the leader of the rebellion scoffing at Mare and her husband-to-be’s plan, “You want me to pin my entire operation, the entire revolution, on some teenaged love story?” This shocked me because that’s the Hunger Games, and up until this point, this was also the plot of Red Queen. So this line read as rather jarring, but it was the start of everything unfolding in both predictable and unpredictable ways. Even the ending has Hunger Games-ish elements, but following the fall of everything it doesn’t read as bad writing, almost more like a satire.

It made me think of the book in a new light, and I do have the second book in my pile of TBR, so I might read that one sooner than planned, because I am interesting to see what she does with this theme.

 

“How to be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran

Howtobe

asteriaiconI know Artemis reviewed this book a few years ago, and I remember her raving about it while we worked at the bookstore. I even picked it up at a garage sale, complete with her staff pick sticker on the cover. When I found it available as an audiobook through the library, I knew it was time to give it a go.

I loved this book and would recommend it to any females, particularly ones who believe themselves to be feminists. It is a very open and honest account of life as a woman, from pubic hair to periods, to strip clubs and porn, to motherhood and abortions. Moran tackles some very serious topics with wit and humour, and I had to fight hard to not laugh out loud a few times.

I found Moran’s honesty and candor to be empowering. She made me proud to be a woman and a feminist. As someone who has been adamant about not having children, she made me feel that my decision is okay. While I knew this was my choice, and I am happy about it, I have always heard that I will regret it and how selfish I am for making such a choice. I have had the arguments thrown at me that motherhood is my responsibility …after all that is what women are for, and how dare I take this opportunity away from my own mother to become a grandmother. Thank you Caitlin for giving me the power and courage to rightfully say “Fuck Off”! It was just a nice little reminder that my choice is as valid as the next, my experiences as real and worthy as the next, and at no point do I need to justify my choice to anyone!

I do not want to go into too much more, as I think Artemis did a great job of reviewing this book further below. But I do want to say that it was immensely enjoyable and damn worth the read! There were so many aspects of womanhood that I had never really considered. I know that sounds silly, but honestly, so much of life just seemed …there. I didn’t consider pubic hair or shaving my legs as anything other than normal. I didn’t think about the porn industry and what it has done to our sex lives. I never considered periods as anything other than a pain in the ass. I guess I never considered so many things through the lens of “life as a woman” so much as just merely life. It was definitely an eye opening book, and one that I will definitely reread again and again!

“Red Queen” by Victoria Aveyard

Redqueen

asteriaiconWhen I saw this book at Walmart, I am not going to lie, the cover intrigued me. It was just a simple light blue cover, with a silver crown dripping red blood. It was very simple, very elegant looking, very sharp, and eye catching. So I had to read the synopsis to see what this was.

The teen novel takes place in a dystopian-esque world, along the same vein as Hunger Games. The world is divided by blood; silver or red. Silver bloods are the elite, the high society, each with god like super powers. The red bloods are the poverty stricken commoners, devoid of any super power. Mare Barrow, a strong female character, hates the silvers, and steals to help her and her family survive. She has watched her older brothers be drafted into a war they have no business being in, and soon her best friend will join them.

Mare find herself one day being offered a job to work in the Silver Palace, working as a servant for the king and queen, and their two princes Cal and Maven. Cal is the heir to the throne, and he understands his place in society. He has to be military smart, and learn how to lead his people through a war that is fought on the red’s backs. He is not without kindness to the reds, he understands life is hard for them, but he will not change the course of history to help them. Maven, on the other hand, couldn’t be more opposite. He knows he will never lead, that role falls to his brother. He is softer and kinder, and hard not to love. When Mare accidentally falls, and reveals a power she did not know she possessed, a power by all rights she should not have, all bets are off. The family has to find a way to explain her powers away, and decide to tell the silver community that she is the daughter of a long lost silver, and will be set to marry their son Maven.

Mare has a lot to learn. She has to learn to control her powers, but also has to learn how to be a silver, how to be an elite, when she grew up poor. She decides to make the best of her situation and tries to make the world a better place for the reds. She secretly starts to work for the Red Guard, a resistance group trying to overthrow the silver regime. Maven, knowing he has nothing to lose, decides to help her and the cause.

As I stated above, this is like a cross between dystopian and fantasy writing, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I tend to not like fantasy novels much. Many have tried to be the next Hunger Games, and most have fallen hard. This though, this has a good fast paced story. I loved that Mare is a smart, strong, female lead, and she leads with her brain, not her heart. There is a bit of a love triangle between her and the princes, but she never lets it rule her decisions completely.  I have heard rumblings that this may be turned into a movie as well, which would be a good one to watch, I think some of the super power theatrics would translate to the big screen beautifully. This is the first book in a series, and I found it well worth the read so far. But just remember dear readers… “anyone can betray anyone”.

“How to be a woman” Caitlin Moran

HowToBeWoman pb c

artemisiconAs soon as I saw that Jenny Lawson read this book I decided I should read it to. I mean, come on, look at the title!  There is nothing wrong with men reading this book, but this is definitely more aimed at women.   And I definitely think EVERY woman should read it.

Caitlin Moran has written this book half as an autobiography and the other half her opinion.  At first I was a little thrown, how does the title “how to be a woman” have anything to do with her life?  She starts like most biographies, about her early life, but after she’s built her foundation she uses what she’s been through,throughout the rest of her life, to relate back to the issue of being a woman.

The thing I liked about her is even though it is her opinion, she doesn’t show only one side.   There were a sequence of chapters following hers about having children;  have children, do not have children, and the possibility of abortion.  She did not shy away from any topic.  The brought every little topic out to the open and made it okay to talk and think about.  Pubic hair? She talked about it.  Sexism? Right there.

After reading this book I was proud to call myself a feminist.  And no, not the butch, bra-burning, “herstory not history” kind, the kind that can stand up and say “yes I have a vagina, and yes I want to be in control of what happens to it”.  She used the broken window theory to explain feminism.  In a building, if you leave a window broken it eventually will have more broken windows, and be victim to vandals, and then after the tenants leave it will become a place for squatters and bums.  For feminism, how can you fight the bigger picture (like the way women are treated around the world) if we ourselves are still victim to the most basic forms of sexism.  How can we fix the building if we don’t fix the window?