Was an inescapable hole
Of black loneliness
And however hard I tried
I could not reach across the event horizon
To touch even his fingers and remind him
That I still was with him.
Was an inescapable hole
Of black loneliness
And however hard I tried
I could not reach across the event horizon
To touch even his fingers and remind him
That I still was with him.
so It’s April loves. Happy Easter.
Shadow Society by Marie Rutkowski. Wow ma’am you’re convincing me I should enjoy young adult romance I don’t know what to do about this situation. I keep saying her books are on thin ice in terms of being YA-y for me, but dang are they always fun. This is actually probably my favorite book of hers. Thoroughly enjoyed. Conn McCrea and Darcy Jones (I think that’s her last name??) are to all eyes completely opposing and should probably start a fist fight and not make out. Both Conn and Darcy disagree with this assessment and think they should make out and not start a fist fight. They share some really adorable moments and I just love Conn way too much ok.
The Memory of Babel by Christelle Dabos. This is part of the mirror visitor series and there’s really nothing like this series or the characters in it or the world. I just enjoy it violently. Ophelia is determined to beat up God. Not like God in any religious sense of the term, God is an entity in this universe connected to a catastrophic event that just might happen again if everyone isn’t careful. Ophelia is determined to find her husband Thorne. Both prove to be difficult but she just might do it. Anyway. I really loved this one. Unexpected, delightful, thoroughly enjoyed.
I read New York Burning for school. Very interesting historical book. I enjoyed it and definitely recommend.
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch which is a very adult book but was very enjoyable. (there is lots of swearin and some content so ask me for specifics if you need warnings!) Focuses on a bunch of criminals running around conning people but also saving people’s lives and Locke is our main character who Jean should probably kill for efficiency’s sake and to get rid of the trouble which he so invariably incites. Still very fun listen (I listened to the audiobook)!
The Inheritance games which was such Peak YA that I am convinced I need to give Marie Rutkowski a break and sir whoever wrote this book I implore you just focus on the mystery less kissing more mystery solving.
The Last Dragonslayer which was an excellent book that I loved with all my heart. No romance, just Jennifer Strange, a bunch of jerks, and a political attempt at murdercide on dragons.
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie which was absolutely brutal. It’s very Norse and Viking inspired. It was very impelling even if I didn’t–enjoy it necessarily? I don’t know. Yarvi wasn’t really the right protagonist for me. There are some protagonists who I’ll root for even if they’re not doing things I agree with (Vin from Mistborn. Sometimes didn’t do what I would advise, but absolutely adored her. I think at one point I was yelling “YES VIN GO OFF TEAR INTO KELSIER YES!” [Adria Avalon could probably tell you she has all the texts for my readthrough.]) But Yarvi, for all that he’s a philosopher (which was the most attractive part of his character for me) he was not my favorite. Nothing (the character) probably was, but shoot that ending shocked me. Anyway. Yarvi is interesting to read but I wouldn’t want to meet him. Nothing might kill me but I’d sorta like to punch his face. Abercrombie writes characters at least who you love to hate.
Six of Crows which was a reread that heavily featured me, screaming as Kaz goes “I forbid this to awaken anything in me,” and it absolutely awakening something in him. Like every time he’s like “there’s Inej” and his heart is like “ADSXCSDF:LKASDNKFDSHKFN AAH THERE’S INEJ”. I also love Matthias and Nina just slowly getting closer and then Matthias just realizing he can’t believe what he believed before anymore it’s so good. And I love Jesper and Inej being salty best friends it’s the best thing. And just… it comes up more in crooked kingdom but Kaz thinking of Jesper as his brother is ack my heart. Also it’s hilarious that on the first readthrough you’re kind of terrified and disgusted by the things Kaz does and by the third you’re like -_- Kaz no but also like ^-^ Kaz is lil murder baby I love him. And I think that shows that Leigh Bardugo knew exactly what she was doing. But also Kaz no.
Illuminae and Gemina reread that heavily featured me screaming about Ezra Mason because he is, in my humble opinion, my favorite character in the series. Not necessarily best I just love him most. Along maybe with Kady and Aiden as close seconds. I love how undefeatable Kady is. No matter what happens, no matter how hard it gets, she just keeps fighting. I love that about her. I love how Ezra has been through so much and remains so compassionate and sacred bovine I love his friendship with McNulty and I’m in pain and it’s just the best thing. Like. I’m so mad McNulty’s *spoilers*. It hurts. No. Don’t do that I promise you it’s better if you don’t. Anyway.
Lil sis and Dad and I continued watching White Collar.
I watched Arrival which is a feelings heavy space movie that is also interesting science and humanities postulation because it’s basically about language and communication and I think that’s beautiful. And you never feel the twist coming but it’s so artfully done it doesn’t feel like a plot twist at all. It feels like you’ve known this was coming. And Amy Adams was the perfect person to cast as the main character. I cried.
Interstellar has the most fantastic and painful soundtrack I have ever heard. I believe I wept. And the story is beautiful. But it’s so sad. But it makes you think about fate and courage and all of those elemental things that make us human. I think after watching this I had an idea that I should write a story about how humanity is not a perfected form of intelligence, or a perfectible form of intelligence, but a perfectible form of love. That’s what this movie made me think about anyway it’s just an amazing movie.
I started writing Madeline again (finally.) I started writing Siri and Bryce into a new story with new main characters Maren and Sebastian because I haven’t outgrown Siri and Bryce but I have realized they need other people to impel them because Siri is too terrified of messing up and Bryce is too judgmental and angsty and they need Maren and Sebastian and Maren and Sebastian are more interesting to me because they lack all of the power that Siri and Bryce have. And none of you probably have any idea what I’m talking about, but basically Bryce and Siri are the two most powerful human magical denizens on earth, but they have opposing powers and lots of people assume that means they have opposing motives and are going to try to kill each other. And people assume that Bryce is the good guy because of the nature of his power and because he’s a known quantity and the golden child and no one had any idea Siri’s power was also that great so they assume she’s been hiding it when really she had no idea either. So the two of them are at least at first at odds. But Sebastian and Maren are just bystanders. Just kids without that level of power who are friends with these two (Maren more than Sebastian Sebastian hates Bryce’s guts because I kind of hate Bryce’s guts and therefore Sebastian is thoroughly on “Siri’s side” while Maren is more naturally on both). Nonetheless their decisions are integral to what happens and I just–I love their relationship? I love how Maren and Sebastian don’t “get along,” at school but when things go wrong are just there for each other when no one else will be. I love how they challenge each other and balance each other and frustrate each other but ultimately respect and value each other so much. I love how they listen to each other when no one else will listen and team up when no one else will try. arg I just love them.
I also started Rian and Starling and Junia’s story (thinking of calling it The Long Night Comes) and I still have a lot of plot work to do but asdfanzxkcl I just love these characters with all my heart. I love that Starling’s trust in higher powers and family is so damaged and Rian has lost so much and Junia has decided to keep going anyway and they all come together with all these other friends as well to be the family none of them has anymore.
An important Rian moment: He didn’t really feel the dart in his neck, but he knew when it landed and he thought: Jac, run, and then he thought nothing at all.
An important Starling moment: Starling closed his eyes and prayed silently to himself. I don’t know if you’re listening, Starling began, but Graeye, Junia believes in you. Don’t let her down. Don’t put out that spark in her eyes. Don’t teach her that gods can’t be trusted. Please. Not for me. For her. Please.
An important Junia moment: “Stop being terrible because you think you deserve to be hated.”
(she can be really harsh because she’s trying to help you so she gives it to you absolutely straight.)
Another Junia (because I love all my children equally but Rian and Starling are the ones I rant about): “Your belief in a god is not invalidated by the actions of other believers.”
“I can only invalidate my own beliefs myself, hm?”
“What about the people who say if my god was a good god he would strike down evil with thunderous might? Shouldn’t the bishop already be dead?”
“Maybe you are thunderous might.”
ANyway just.. I love them. They’re amazing.
Life things: I GOT AN INTERNSHIP AT MY LIBRARY! ME! I GOT AN INTERNSHIP! I’m really happy. And I have a student worker position that a professor asked me to do this fall, so work things are exciting ^-^ I’m entering my senior year this fall and I’m so nervous and excited and happy. I’ve been trying to make sure I get together with friends once a week because I’ve found if I don’t get together with people once a week I get really stressed out for no reason. I’m also trying to build better studying habits (aka studying without taking massive breaks for a condensed amount of time so I have time for other things.) I also applied for a bookstore job so I really hope to get that but yeah. All kinds of exciting lovely things happening and there’s still stress but there’s so much good stuff to focus on.
because No One Asked
Roy: my dad and I get along so well and unfortunately we’ll probably take over the world someday and make it so emus can hold office in 7 states
Owen: Deserts make room for themselves.
also Owen: eventually staying awake is a bad decision and yet I consistently make it
Finch: I mean… himbos are just so delightful
just the manners…
the respecting women juice…
the fact that they will absolutely never sherlock holmes anything…
Sebastian: I’m sorry mom I need to sue you for false advertising. I was promised screaming. I broke my finger and there was no screaming whatsoever.
Siri: that caption is wrong that picture is “screams incoherently at the beings in charge of my life to let it end”
Bryce: *torn between exhaustion and the readiness and willingness to stab a pal* Whose. Bagel. Is this.
Maren: I will fight you for your honor out of friendship.
Roan: you ok smal [sic] bean
Undine: I’d rather be myself.
also Undine: this is so gruesome I love it
Elyra: I am self aware enough to realize that I am a chaos raccoon.
James: Get good or get out of my profession ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Heather: Now some demented part of me wants to write a college au where Elsa writes a song about her noisy roommates posts it on YouTube and it blows up and everyone is reading so much into it but Elsa just wrote it sleep deprived so she could sing it as loud as she could as somewhat petty vengeance.
Rose: (in response to being asked how she is) adsnzxc,hcvaudfs I wish you’d asked me that two hours ago I was FINE then
Starling: I need sleep yeet farewell
Junia: You underestimate my stubbornness.
Cornwall: we have hit the point in the semester when help needs to come from above in the shape of a donkey
Reyley: *sounding so disappointed in humanity*
I’m pretty sure there are authors who would write sex scenes about cowboy dragons
Rian: you don’t need to know how to be loved. All you need to do is be willing to accept the person who shows you how.
“Whose words are these?”
I wonder still
When I speak for good or speak for ill
When I hear words that make me weep
Or pull me out of silent sleep
And still more when I think of God
I wonder as I travel and trod
When I shall die and see his face
If I spoke words of death or grace
So be still mouth
And quiet breath
And think of that moment after death
When I am angry or in pain
That for evil I may not speak again
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” G K Chesterton
I want to clarify something here: I am not making a definitive statement on the beliefs of others. I am simply picking apart the problems that I personally find in what I would call the popular perspectives today. This is my religious problem with politics. It therefore stems from my religion, which many of you may not share. That is, I suppose, my little disclaimer, that you don’t need to agree with me.
There is something I find wanting in every political perspective on human beings and it is this: that humans are not inherently good. Certainly we were created inherently good in my belief system, but we aren’t good anymore–as a result of the choices of others, true–but also because of our own. The second thing lacking from perspective on humanity is this: we can’t do better on our own.
We cannot even know better on our own.
This is why even when I almost agree with liberals or conservatives or politicians or professors I consistently find something lacking in their perspective. My religious beliefs mean that their beliefs are often fundamentally incompatible in some way no matter how small with mine.
For instance, I would say liberals believe human society is mutable based on how we reprogram people. From their thoughts surrounding the various isms of the world to their policies on economics and government policies, I think it’s clear that current liberal thought centers on how implicit biases can be rewritten to make human beings into better human beings, to destroy conflict, and to make the world a better place. Liberal philosophy tends to me to be about group responsibility and how the group creates situations, how the group should solve them.
There’s one difficulty. We cannot measure bias nor determine how to avoid sowing it–for we will sow it because another word for bias is perspective. Perspective is something all of us inevitably have as a product of being human beings. Raise us in a glass jar, expose us to no human influence, pump us full of all the religions and sciences and ideas there ever have been or ever will be and we will have a perspective of clinical outlook, a lack of inherent understanding of how to react with humanity, a naivety towards other people or such blind cynicality that we might find it completely impossible to develop meaningful human emotions. What are we to do then? “Become aware of our own biases?” We are aware of our own perspective. But on our own and even with the liberal lens it is impossible to be aware of all the flaws in our own perspective because we cannot see through every perspective there is and there is no way to know for certain which is the right or perfect one.
Even in the liberal mindset, where to judge by group is the most heinous of crimes, some groups are judged by the most known actions. Conservatives become the enemy. Conservatives become the people who want to hurt the earth, who care so little that they would destroy it and ruin the future of our world for profit, or become the people who would deprive others of the right to love who they want.
Conservatives are equally guilty of the crime. To them, the liberal is illogical, their argument invalid. Their viewpoint of the world is so philosophically flawed that to hear them or listen to their arguments is not worth one’s time. Liberals become the enemy.
And every group in between is, I think, the same.
The group and the bias and the knowing better do not mean our society will do better or that it is even possible to get better based off of that. A bias is still there; a bias that will draw the line between an us and a them. A group is still there, a group that will do what it’s members decide is best or most important without necessarily considering the needs or costs upon other groups. Knowing better is not an answer to the awful things in the world because we don’t always even notice that we know better until later, and sometimes we don’t know better, and if we can’t rid ourselves of the assumption that anyone who doesn’t know better is terrible, we can’t help anyone. And what, exactly, is better? Who gets to define it? Why?
The Conservative platform tends to be based on personal responsibility. People get what they deserve based on what they do. But we know we live in an unjust world even if we don’t live in an unjust society. It disregards the voices that it disdains because it finds one part of their argument faulty rather than trying to actually reach an amicable solution to problems. It assumes that people can change their situation for the better themselves. It assumes that people can independently get to the point of knowing better and doing better. It tends to remove implicit bias from the table, without talking about how, indeed, we do have perspectives ingrained into us that can lead us to harm others. The sins of our fathers do affect us.
If our personal responsibility is to do what we think is right, how do we know what is right? What about the fact that even when we know what is right, we don’t always do it? What about the fact that we can fail even when we’re trying? What about the fact that (or, at least, I believe it is a fact) we are human beings and fallible? If we don’t listen to others, what makes us different from them in that they don’t listen to us? If we don’t acknowledge that history affects today, how to we come to accept that effect?
I was reading Heretics and Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton several years ago and I can’t help returning to his words. It has been found difficult and left untried. What about the belief system it’s based on?
It’s a belief system of personal responsibility but enormous personal obstacle. The person still did all those things but that person can never fight through it alone. But the group of people is not a solution. Put a group of people who cannot swim in an ocean and it won’t help them get to shore that they’re all in it together. Their only hope is something else completely. Something that pulls them up–but only if they hold their hand back. Something that demands equality of love–without asking “What is your bias.” The trouble with Conservatism and Liberalism as world views is this: they are political philosophies. They are not moral philosophies that tell you how to live a life that will actually be genuinely good. They tell you either that good is relative or that good is part of an amorphous chunk of “western civilization” or that good is personal responsibility or following the law or something equally undefined.
They are not able to solve the world’s problems because religions are designed to solve the world’s problems. Political philosophies are designed to explain them.
Why can’t we do better?
Because the solution is not personal responsibility or group responsibility. The solution is morality, and faith, and forgiveness, and no philosophy alone can create that.
Only grace can.
Cerverian Iveril walked into the tavern with the explicit purpose of being robbed. Rian wanted a thief—the best in the business. Trying to meet a thief directly, given that he was the son of Rogiere Iveril, would have been utter suicide. On the other hand, calling himself Verian Cardol, throwing coin at literally everything, and acting like he was at least two sheets to the wind already was likely to possibly get him stabbed but absolutely get him robbed.
Hopefully by whoever had robbed His Royal Highness Arex, Duke of Atran.
Cerverian noticed a few of the people in the tavern right away. Some were eying him with open distrust, others with razor-edged smiles. Some people just were actually there to eat and not commit crimes, from the way they were behaving. There was a crusty farmer, a couple making eyes at each other, and a girl in rather dusty traveler’s clothes sitting alone. She gave a sort of pleasant expression to the flamboyantly dressed, dark skinned person who passed by her and flopped down opposite the farmer, folded their boots on the table, and began to speak very loudly but much more rapidly than Cerverian could parse even though they were almost next to one another.
Rian felt irritation stir in his stomach. He leaned over to the performer, for she must’ve been one in such garments. “Miss,” he said, slurring his words. “Miss, you’re louder than a sailor yelling in the middle of a storm.”
“LOUDER THAN A STORM TOO,” She yelled, and Rian almost winced and then just did wince. He poked a finger at her, making it waver and point slightly off of where he wanted to point.
“Are you a performer?”
“MADE THIS MYSELF,” she said, gesturing to her outfit, which wasn’t an answer.
The girl opposite watched this with an entirely composed expression on her slim face.
In the chaos, she leaned forward and dropped a card beside his boot. He leaned further out of his chair and pretended to fall over. The card was very neatly printed, and he had no idea when she’d written it.
You’re asking to be murdered, Sir.
He was sure she was expecting him to react to it. Instead, he pretended he hadn’t read it or even noticed it at all as he sat up, swearing colorfully about the instability of chairs in local bars.
The girl’s face remained impassive, an expression almost devoid of humanity in its eerie quietude.
The night wore on. Rian drank with 12 different people, consuming only sips of alcohol if they’d noticed while downing great gulps of water for effect. The quiet girl left at some point in the evening, and Rian felt a rising concern that she would bring in the city watch. Or maybe she was the city watch, considering her unnerving stillness and determination.
He left the tavern eventually, hoping he would be followed, because his purse really couldn’t handle many more nights like this.
A figure entirely in black slammed him against the wall. He felt the sharpness of a knife against his throat, glanced down at the blade, and found exactly what he had been looking for for over a week. Green blade, black handle. Excitement thrilled his blood.
“Justice will be served you,” said the person in a cold, brutal, hissing voice.
“What are you doing?” he said, instilling his voice with raw terror.
“Taking what is rightfully not yours.”
He struggled, which was a mistake. The dagger sank into the side of his throat, not severing anything important, but producing a bright well of pain as warmth ran down his left side.
“Do you really want to die?” the figure asked.
“No, but you might.” The voice was wholly unfamiliar. At the front of the alley, surrounded by moonlight, eyes reflecting the light, stood a still figure, somehow seeming to hardly be there to begin with. It seemed like a dream that the person was there in the first place.
The Green Avenger moved the knife, which was all the person had been waiting for. He did not see her move. A second later, the Avenger was lying on the cobbles, face downward, knife against her adam’s apple as the still creature from the bar murmured, “Don’t move.”
He looked at her. His heart felt frozen in her throat.
“She recognized you,” said the girl, and handed him a rope.
When he stood there, uncomprehending, she said, “her hands.”
An economy of motion. Economy of words. Was she even human?
He bound the Avenger’s hands. The possibly-a-dead-god-from-the-dawn-of-time stabbed a stake through the rope into the ground and did the same thing to the Avenger’s feet.
She stalked up to him, put her fingers to his neck. Her hair flashed auburn in the moonlight. She swiped away the blood.
He was terrified in a strange fey moment that she would drink it. Instead, she got out alcohol, put it on the wound, and then handed him a cloth. “Press down. City watch or take somewhere?”
She pointed at the Avenger.
“We’ll take her to my room,” he said, mouth dry as a ditch.
She stuffed the Avenger’s mouth to gag her first. She put the point between the Avenger’s shoulder blades, but the Avenger would not go.
They were trying to speak. Auburn—he might as well call her that, he needed to think of her as something—put her mouth to the Avenger’s ear.
“He recognizes you too. Not handing you over to guard so he doesn’t want you dead.”
The Avenger tried to say something like, “something worse then.”
“Just listen. I won’t have you hurt.”
The Avenger struggled.
“Could always knock you out and have guard carry you.”
The Avenger moved.
Rian wondered what the actual hell he’d gotten himself into.
Rian led the way, pressing a handkerchief against his bleeding neck and feeling like needles were being slid into his back. He loosened one of the daggers in his sheath and listened for a sound behind him. It had not escaped him that it was entirely possible the two girls were working together somehow and him turning around gave them every opportunity to do whatever they liked to his back.
But instead he walked all the way back into the nicer part of town, using as many alleyways as possible to avoid notice, and led them to the Inn where Jaquelyn and Cornwall were waiting for him.
Jac and Corn were gambling in the darkened main room when Rian walked through the door. He hadn’t considered what it would look like to walk in like this—soaked in his own blood, muddy from the street, with a girl behind him holding a knife to another girl’s throat.
Jac had a sword at Auburn’s throat before Rian could stop her.
“Stop! She’s—” he stopped to think of how to describe her—“she would’ve probably murdered me already if she had any interest in doing so.”
“Somehow, my liege,” Jac said, “That does not reassure me in the slightest.”
Auburn, with complete calm, knocked the sword away from her neck and began removing the Avenger’s gag. The Avenger bit her, and dived for her knife. Auburn both sat down on her and had to leave her hand in the Avenger’s mouth. “Sharp,” she said, sounding unsurprised.
The Avenger held on, biting deeper if the slight twinge of Auburn’s mouth was any indication.
“She’s a bloody little shark,” said Corn, and dropped to his knees to look at Auburn. “Jac won’t stab you, lass.” He lightly grabbed the Avenger’s ear. “Listen here. Let go of that hand you’re munching and we’ll get you dinner and not tie you to a chair or stab you.”
The Avenger bit down harder. Corn sighed. “Right then.” He plugged the Avenger’s nose with two fingers. At last the Avenger had to let go of Auburn’s hand or suffocate. She swore at Corn between gasps for air and jerked, trying to throw Auburn off.
“I wanted to talk to you,” said Rian to save time and trouble, “about Richard Seymore.”
The Avenger went completely still. “The Bishop Richard Seymore,” she said, in her rich voice.
“That’s him.” Rian confirmed.
“Get off me,” the Avenger said coolly. “I’ll listen to what your boss has to say.”
She turned to Auburn. “Who’re you?”
“That’s my question too,” Rian said.
Auburn looked at them both and shrugged.
“Is she mute?” asked Jac.
Auburn looked at her, and smiled a bit. “No,” she said, and said nothing else.
“Fantastic,” Rian said, “do you have a name?”
“Can I hear it?” The Avenger asked.
Jac looked helpless, Corn amused, the Avenger annoyed.
“I’m Reyley Thornum,” the Avenger said. “Does that make you more amenable to telling us your name?”
Auburn shrugged. She looked expressively at Rian.
“I’m Cerverian Iveril. My friends are Jac Lowland and Cornwall. His first name is terrible so we just call him Corn.”
https://thedreamgirlwrites.wordpress.com/ asked if the characters I introduced in that post of mine have a story. Indeed they do. This is that story. Does it make sense? No. Is it first drafty as all heck? Yes. Am I posting it anyway? (Well I am a 20 year old college student so this is the quality or lack thereof content you signed up for so) Yes.
Many of you know that I get mad at Young Adult books. This isn’t solely the problem of young adult. I also get mad at middle grade and adult. But I think I’ve identified one of my primary annoyances with this genre and it’s this: mature themes.
I know, I know. It’s young adult. I should expect mature themes. I do. I don’t have a problem, necessarily, with someone putting dark, mature, or difficult themes into their books. I do have problems with how they handle those themes. When you as the author decide to put in something like extremely graphic sex scenes, it’s moved up to adult because there is the assumption that teenagers or middle schoolers (who yes, do indeed read YA!) aren’t ready for that kind of content. I don’t believe in censoring reading, necessarily, but I believe that is important because there are a large number of kids (and also 20 year old me, hi) who would read that and be like 0_0 I did not sign up for this I wanted magical adventure not to be mentally scarred.
But it’s not just extremely graphic sex scenes that should move you into the adult category, in my opinion. If you are handling themes irresponsibly and not explaining them well to a younger audience, get out and stop. I’m not saying you need to talk down to your audience. That makes me very, very annoyed. But Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi explicitly explains to the reader what’s going on without talking down to them. It breaks down why the characters’ relationships fall apart and why their efforts are ineffective, due to a lack of sympathy, experience, or maturity. And it doesn’t feel like it’s talking down to you. It feels like a serious conversation you would have with an adult about a serious topic.
I feel like you can talk about torture as young as 14 years old with an adult. But that’s a conversation you’re having with an adult. The adult controls the level of the conversation–and the same thing is true of the conversation you decide, as an author, to have with your book. Nothing but bones is a YA I read the other day, and while I did enjoy the story, I feel like this isn’t a book I’d hand to a sixteen year old let alone a twelve year old. It basically talks about selling monsters off on the black market. And it feels like an adult conversing with an adult about this. It doesn’t feel like it’s talking to someone who is still a teenager. Nita (our main character) is basically a sociopath. She realizes this. She concludes, on the page, that morals are made up, and everyone is wearing a mask, and it doesn’t matter what she does period. Full stop. The person who tries to explain to her that we need to have boundaries to avoid going crazy has tortured people. People Nita cares about. Yes. If this was a conversation with an 18 or 20 year old, ok. They’d be like “interesting how you define morality there I don’t really agree,” or “I understand the struggle to understand what morals are but the conclusion is off,” or even “why are there no good people in this book that’s not particularly realistic,” but that’s not the message I think a lot of 16 year olds would get from this. I think as a 16 year old this book would have deeply disturbed me. I would have known that a lot of this wasn’t true. I wouldn’t have agreed with the decisions made. But I would absolutely have been bothered by, rather than able to have a conversation with, this book.
First and foremost I have to say that I respect teenagers. They are resilient, often extremely generous, and marvelously loyal to their friends. They are amazing, strong, and complex people. However, teenagers are different from adults no matter how mature they may act. Their pre-frontal cortexes are not fully developed, they have a storm of hormones in their veins, they are expected depending on the situation to act like trusting children or full autonomous grown-ups, and it’s the time in life when many of us felt we knew it all. (College kids also behave like they know it all so that’s not exclusive to teenagers). Teenagers are not going to spend days meditating on the morality of actions in your book, or whether the relationships are healthy. When I was 15, I would check out 4 books or more from the library a week. Most of these were young adult. I would read them all, pretty much one a day. I remember few of them. I would talk about ones I especially enjoyed and forget about the rest. But the subliminal messages in all probably did affect me. There were times, actually, when I felt like my brain was getting poisoned by the things in those books, and I would read C.S. Lewis or another author who I felt confident in not to ruin my childhood to wash it out.
I think many of them behaved like it was an adult reading the book. I have read very few books that act like a younger audience might be reading them and need explicit or heavier implicit discussion and responsible decision making on the part of the author. For instance, I feel like Cassandra Clare’s Shadow Hunter books are very irresponsible with the themes they choose to discuss. The way the characters talk, for instance, doesn’t indicate very healthy relationships. It kind of romanticizes abusive relationships. (I’m specifically talking about The Mortal Instruments here.) I enjoy The Infernal Devices very, very much. Out of all of her books those are my favorites. But I really don’t like in them how plot excuses character behavior. One of the characters, Will, behaves horribly. He has an excellent reason, due to plot–but it’s like all of the responsibility for his choices of how to behave and hurt people are waved because of that reason. Even though he spent 6 years of his life by this point being horrible to almost everyone. Jem is probably the only character that I feel holds Will even partially responsible for his actions.
The same feels true of all her books. The heroes do terrible things and are still heroes because plot excused it, rather than being held responsible. Heroes will do terrible things and that’s not something I think is inaccurate because most of us are the same way. We tell people we hate them, we lie and some of us have probably even stolen something in our lives. We hurt people. But we have to make recompense. We aren’t just forgiven and it isn’t just forgotten. When someone has hurt me, over and over again, I am willing to forgive, but it’s difficult to believe they’re actually sorry unless they make up for it. My trust for them has evaporated even though my willingness to give them another chance remains. If your characters will do terrible things, you can’t send young people the message that “if you have a good reason, it wasn’t actually your fault.”
When you teach teenagers they don’t have control over their actions, or that if they have a good reason they’re excused, you take away their sense of responsibility and even their sense of control. And by the way–all of this is something I’ve realized as an adult. I didn’t realize when I was a teenager that Clare seems to send the message, “if you have a good reason, it wasn’t actually your fault.” I’m not saying that’s her intention–but I think that’s the result. I think she’s trying really hard to convince us that even though her characters do terrible things they’re not problematic. That has the unfortunate result of making it difficult to argue that any of her characters are bad people, since villains often too have ‘good’ reasons for things. Traumatic childhood? Oh yeah, they’ve probably got that too. Divine purpose? They absolutely think so. Lack of control? Absolutely, honey! (Sebastian Morganstern should have been able to make choices and all of us know that but noooo he was just ‘born evil,’ unable to make good choices from the start. I’m still salty why didn’t Clary and Sebastian grow up together and have an amazing sibling relationship and just destroy Valentine in six minutes. Because they would’ve. And it would have been better. And why would you ever send the message that people don’t have the choice to be not evil.) Why is it immoral for them, then?
I could continue with many other examples. Now this might be poor writing on the part of a few authors, except for the fact that I observe this fairly frequently. It’s not that I don’t want authors to avoid mature topics with teenagers. I just want them to actually discuss those topics in a manner that is actually appropriate for teenagers.
So yeah. Either address it in an age appropriate manner, or don’t put it in the Young Adult section. Thank you.
this is just a new iteration of “bAD descriptions of my characters”
for your entertainment.
Cerverian (Rian): rich, sad, wants to overthrow the government. Has eaten mayonnaise on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at three am. Has a crossbow collection even though he is absolutely better at longbows. Has many hobbies because INSOMNIA BABEY
Auburn: LITERALLY GETS CALLED THIS THOUGH IT ISN’T HER NAME FOR THE FIRST HALF OF THE FIRST BOOK BECAUSE SHE SPEAKS IN THREE WORD SENTENCES AND DIDN’T BOTHER TO TELL THEM HER NAME THEN SAID HER NAME WHEN SHE WAS GETTING HIT ON IN A BAR. Is actually named Junia. The hitter and hit-absorption of the group even though she NEVER WEARS FULL ARMOR LIKE A SMART PERSON. Meditates because INSOMNIA BABEY. Is literally a paladin. Named a lion that tried to kill her Gary. Has no parents.
Corn: Is attracted to tall women. Is the walking Benedict Cumberbatch joke because no one knows his actual full name except Rian and Jac. A few of the gems he has been called: “SNITCHING ARTICHOKE MEDICINE CABOODLE” “SOLOMON AFRICANUS MARCUS CORNHEAD” “SNITCHES GET STITCHES CORNWALL” Is actually very religious but no one ever guesses. Would jump off a four story building with nothing to catch him for a quarter.
Jacqueline (Jac): is a tall woman. Beats up people. Has no idea what is going on at any time but if Junia or Rian is gone is literally the only sane one left.
Starling: Cries because everything is too pretty for his brain to handle. Has no impulse control except Rian. Hit on Auburn and then was like “OH IT’S A FRIEND! IN MY MISGUIDED EFFORTS I HOPE I HAVE NOT OFFENDED YOU FOR YOU ARE NOW MY BEST FRIEND OF ALL TIME.” Does not do fights but does party invites. Has six brain cells and all of them are too busy going “THAT’S TOO PRETTY” to do anything else.
Reyley: tRaUmA HoUrS aRE aLl HoUrS BAbEy. Let’s overthrow the government, that’s a good afternoon activity among friends. literally a college student during finals week but all the time. Would sell most of the world for three corn chips and a SpongeBob plushie.
From the madness there came reason:
There came loyalty out of treason;
Out of darkness there came day
For He is like the Fuller’s Clay.
Out of cowardice courage came:
Humility came out of shame;
Out of loss was born compassion
For it takes blows to iron fashion.
His is the earth and all therein:
But we forget amidst shame and sin
Some source of joy there still must be
If it was made by one in three.
Out of despair came hope most pure;
Out of sorrow joy forevermore;
Out of tortured anguish peace;
For His peace alone shall never cease;
Forget not that in sorrow we must not repine
For His blood was shed for yours and for mine
Not my glory, God, but only for thine,
It takes fire to silver refine.
About what I said
They rend a hole
In the back of my head;
Black words gush out
Like they mean to hear the end of it.
They rip apart
The edge of my heart;
Cruel nothings spurt
Like my distraction and exhaustion
Has spent all the kindness there is in me.
I grip my spine
Through the base of my neck
And pull and shred
Till the thoughts pour out
And all the things
I should never have said
Are lying on the floor about.
(I didn’t mean what you heard)