YA Tropes – The Virginal Heroine?

WARNING: Before continuing, please be advised that this post shall contain content which some may fine inappropriate. There will be some discussion of sex, though not explicit, which you may find uncomfortable. It is provided purely in the context of defining terms and explaining social constructs. Please do not read further should you think this discussion might be offensive to you. At this time I do not offer a “sanitized” version, but would be happy to explain briefly what my main points were if you are interested. Please message me/comment on a post to request this information. Thank you.

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Continue reading “YA Tropes – The Virginal Heroine?”

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Reader Confessions Tag

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I was tagged by Alex @ youngatheart1blog! Thanks! ūüôā

…have you ever damaged a book?

Actually, yes. I’m telling you all this in the greatest of confidences, but, I’ve burned a book before. O.O¬†Please don’t hurt me. It’s a complicated story, so I’ll just give you the bones.

I was a teen at the time and going through some… rough spots. Bad spots. And for reasons that are *really* hard to explain, a specific book that my mother bought me brought so many of them to a head. Not because it was a bad book or a book that I wouldn’t later enjoy. Rather, I wasn’t *ready* for that book and my mother insisted that I needed to be. It’s a very strange experience looking back on it now and I can honestly say that I’m unlikely to be burning any more books.

…have you ever damaged a borrowed book?

Nope. I can honestly say I have not. I’m good with other people’s books, because I know how awful I’d feel if someone else damaged mine.

…how long does it take you to read a book?

It depends. I’m not the fastest reader in the world, I’m sorry to say. (Compared to my significant other, I read like a slug. Seriously, he reads so fast that he’s flipped the page in the blink of an eye.) That being said, I’m significantly faster when I love what I’m reading – and I’m in the mood to read. I can read something I love in a day or two, if I have the time. But that’s the other part about how long it takes me to finish something. I usually don’t have the time. So if it takes me a month, it takes me a month. Not because I don’t want to read it, but because I have no time.

…books that you haven’t finished?

numbers-game

Numbers Game by Rebecca Rode

Try as I might, I just couldn’t really get into this one. I found it boring and hard to focus on, even though it should have been right up my alley. I’ll try it again at some point, but it won’t be soon. Hopefully, I’ll like it better the second try.

poison-study

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

I started this because I was going to do a buddy read, but I ended up not having the time for it. So I set it aside for the sake of other things. It’s not what I usually read, but I was intrigued, so I think I’ll give it another go at some point. There are just too many others that I’d rather read right now.

breaking-dawn

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

I stopped when Jacob became a pedophile. Need I say more?

atlas-shrugged

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

I *really* wanted to like this book. And maybe at some point I will read the *other* 500 damn pages of it… but if I hear one more word about Rearden Steel, I may lose my mind. I do want to know who John Galt is, so that might be enough to push me into submission…

…hyped popular books that you don’t like?

I’m kind of a bandwagon girl honestly. If it’s got hype? I probably like it… except when I don’t. The books that come to mind are:

Selection

The Selection by Kiera Kass – NOT for fans of the Hunger Games. I mean, honestly. It’s like The Bachelor meets Cinderella meets Matched. Which brings me to the next one on my list…

matched

Matched by Ally Condie – I *wanted* to like this. But I just didn’t care. I liked Delirium better and I *didn’t* like Delirium. There didn’t seem to be enough danger for me or enough struggle. (Though now that I think about it, I think this counts as Dystopian!)

Blue Bloods

Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz – Twincest. SO not okay with that. At all.

City of Bones

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare – Because I’m not sure I can trust Clare and more to the point, this was sort of annoying with the POVs, wasn’t all that spectacular in the writing department, and Clary was *really* annoying. And so was Jace.

marked

House of Night by P.C. Cast – I think they used “poopy” in there at some point. And have you *ever* met a less likable protagonist? They’ve made character you are *supposed* to hate that I liked better…

Wow, okay, now that I’ve made the list, there are actually quite a few that I don’t care for despite being hyped up. Some of them I’ll read anyway, some of them I appreciate why they’re popular, and some I just flat out hate. (House of Night I’m looking at you…)

…is there a book you wouldn’t tell anyone you were reading?

Hm. Well, if I were reading Fifty Shades of Grey, I wouldn’t tell anyone BUT I also wouldn’t be reading it. (That can go on the DNF list, too, now that I think about it. And yes, I know, this one isn’t YA either. Thank. God.)

fifty-shades-of-grey

And no, it’s not because I’m anti-smut. I really don’t care if there’s sex in it, though I don’t necessarily read a lot of books with it in it. (Mostly because I so often am hired to write it, that I really don’t want to read it, too.) Instead, it’s that 50 Shades is a really problematic book in that it blurs lines of consent, misrepresents a sexual subculture (that is NOT how bondage works folks, or dominant/submissive, because it’s all about feeling safe with your partner and having a way out – which the author completely throws out the window, thus the blurred lines of consent I mentioned earlier). It takes away a woman’s power of choice AND it promotes this idea that you can rehabilitate an inherently damaged and dark person with absolutely no training in psychology and being way too close to the subject. Seriously, at the very minimum, it teaches you that 1) it’s okay if you think he’s a serial killer so long as he looks sexy and is rich, 2) it’s okay to not give consent as long as your body ultimately ended up enjoying it, and sometimes if it didn’t, and 3) all boyfriends should be controlling and abusive if they’ve got the money for it.

And people like this crap?

Anyway, that got out of hand. I’m sorry. Other than the above, no, I suppose there aren’t books I wouldn’t tell people I was reading. Maybe TMI, since I have a love-hate with Cassandra Clare. There *are* books that I wouldn’t go out of my way to tell people I’m reading, but that’s more because I know some people wouldn’t care for it, so why get into an argument over it?

…how many books do you own?

Um, ballparking, I would say… a couple hundred maybe? It’s hard to say, because I’ve obviously read more than I own, but I have a bunch I own that I haven’t read yet… Plus ebooks.

…are you a fast or a slow reader?

I talked about this earlier. I’m a snail. It sucks.

…do you like to buddy read?

On the one hand, yes, I totally do! It’s so much fun to fangirl about a really good book – or rant about a really bad one. But unfortunately, my schedule usually doesn’t work out, so I’ve only really buddy read once. ūüė¶ But I would do more if I found a flexible buddy and some free time!

…do you read better in your head or out loud?

In my head. Though I do talk to myself when I’m thinking… Does that count? No, oh, then just forget I mentioned it please.

…if you were only allowed to own one book, what would it be and why?

Oh, jeez, this is hard. I would pick Divergent by Veronica Roth OR Moon Called by Patricia Briggs (which is not YA, I know).

Both of these novels have kick started my reading when in a slump and reminded me why I love strong females – and why it’s still okay to have someone around to help you out. They have very real characters and a story I can read over and over again. It’s great.

The Tagged:

So, I tag…

Marie’s Library

ChicNerdReads

alilovesbooks

If you guys want!

sincerely3

E.C. Orr

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Apocalyptic, and Dystopian – What’s the difference?

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The other day I was talking to my significant other about books and genres. We were talking about The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The Long Walk by Stephen King (he’s a big King fan and is always trying to get me to read his work; I, who has been told that I should write more like King, tend to grumble and say he’s not that great, but I suppose I’m only biased) which somehow digressed into a discussion about genre. Specifically, what’s the difference between Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian? My SI was under the impression that these two genres are one in the same.

I’m here to tell you they are not.

I decided I’d go ahead and break it down here, though I’m sure most of you can hazard a guess at the difference. I also decided to lump Apocalyptic in there, too, because it seemed to be the theme for the day.

Starting at the beginning: Apocalyptic genre.

a·poc·a·lypse
…ôňąp√§k…ôňĆlips/
noun

 

1. the complete final destruction of the world, especially as described in the biblical book of Revelation.
2. an event involving destruction or damage on an awesome or catastrophic scale.
  • “a stock market apocalypse”

*Taken directly from Google

So the apocalypse is more or less the end of the world. Which would suggest that there can be no after the end of the world, right? Since it’s the end and all… Which is why “apocalypse” is more like “the end of life as we know it”. So things get bad, societies crumble, the world goes back to the stone age, and we’re all struggling to survive amidst a complete social collapse of world order.

More or less.

People are still alive, they just don’t live like they used to.

Now, in terms of genre, Apocalypse generally means “the ending of the world”. If someone tells you that they’ve found this really awesome¬†apocalyptic book, they are probably talking about books that are in the midst of a world-ending calamity.

EX:

the-stand

The Stand by Stephen King

left-behind

Left Behind by Tim LeHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins

Both of these start off where the world is normal. It’s like a contemporary novel in the beginning – but it quickly unravels into the end of the world. The stand, being that it’s friggin’¬†long, goes farther and ultimately becomes both Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian (to an extent), but it’s more the exception than the rule. A book that focuses on how the end comes about falls into the Apocalypse genre. Anything¬†after is going to fall into one of the other two. (Probably.)

Left Behind is similar, though I believe it’s a series that goes farther than simply the apocalypse.

Both of these have religious undertones, but that isn’t strictly necessary for this genre. The fall of society can be caused by a stock market crash, aliens blowing up the white house, or a revolution. All it needs is the destruction of our society as we know it.

What happens after: Post-Apocalyptic.

Post-Apocalyptic is basically what it sounds like – “post” meaning after and “apocalyptic” meaning the end of the world. So, “after the end of the world.” Simple, right?

This genre focuses on the aftermath of the end. In the Apocalypse genre we endured the alien invasion that destroyed the white house and killed the ruling government. Now we’re left to deal with what happens next. Society is left in shambles and those few survivors are left to try and scrounge through the wreckage to find useful things for this new way of life.

Generally, this is years after the end. Maybe only a few; maybe several hundred. It depends. The main point of this, however, is that¬†society hasn’t managed to rebuild yet. Whether that’s because of war against the aliens that attacked has prevented another society from emerging, or because the survivors are two busy trying to survive to figure out how to band together and rebuild, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that they haven’t managed it yet.

EX:

the-road

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

world-war-z

World War Z by Max Brooks

dust-lands

Blood Red Road by Moira Young (Might fall into this category, but I haven’t read it so I’m basing this mostly on synopsis)

mortality

Mortality by Kellie Sheridan

the-host

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

These stories focus on how people survive afterwards. If you notice, there are two zombie books listed here. That’s because zombie novels tend to be post-apocalyptic. Why? Because the end has happened (or is in the midst of happening). People can’t really rebuild thanks to the constant threat of zombies. Instead, they are left to survive in the wreckage of the world that was.

Perfect example of Post-Apocalyptic genre.

A not so perfect whole new world: Dystopian.

Finally, we arrive at the final category in our “it’s the end of the world and we know it” genre list. Dystopian. This is the one that’s thrown around so much, it’s probably what brought you to this post in the first place. It’s the one that everyone’s searching for on Goodreads and Amazon. It’s what authors tried to tap into when it became the Next Big Thing in YA literature.

But what does it mean?

First, you’ve probably noticed that “dystopia” sounds a lot like “utopia”. Coincidence? I think not.

Utopia is a perfect society – and it doesn’t exist. It’s more of a philosophical concept of “what if”. What if there was no more war? Bam, utopia. What if all countries got along? Utopia. What if there was no crime, no rape, no stealing or cheating or any of those other awful things that plague our otherwise decent human societies? Utopia.

If we could fix all of the problems in our world, we would be left with a society that had no issues. A thing in which everyone was happy and no one died for reasons beyond natural old age.

If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. A utopia is impossible to actually achieve. There are any number of arguments as to why, but my favorite is this:

We are human. We must eternally strive for goodness. For freedom. For peace. For equality. But we are incapable of ever truly attaining these things. Because we, unlike animals, unlike machines, are individuals. We think independently. We disagree on everything from favorite colors to what equality truly means. The only way to truly achieve utopia would be to have every human on earth be exactly the same.

Sort of a terrible concept, but there’s hope lingering in it. It’s in the striving towards being better that humanity really shines through. It’s the only thing out there that makes us truly awesome, so never stop trying to be better.

Ahem, off of my soapbox now.

Now, just because we can’t¬†achieve utopia, doesn’t mean we don’t try, right? And in the trying, we end up with works of fiction that are “dystopias”.

A dystopian society is a society that¬†seems like utopia. On the surface, it seems perfect. Usually, this perfection manifests in one area specifically. “Everyone is equal.” That sounds great! Except the only way to make people equal is to take away their free will. Not so great. And that’s the point of a dystopia. It’s important that the society looks perfect on the outside, but from the inside we see that everything is really, really wrong.

EX:

divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth

anthem2

Anthem by Ayn Rand

uglies

Uglies by Scott Westerfield

1984

1984 by George Orwell

And a whole slew of others. These novels showcase a society that has tried to make itself – and often deems it to be – perfect. But as readers, we sense that society to be oppressive. The characters within it have given up something precious in order to function within this society – and often rebel against it in order to tear down said society and restart.

Note that all of these, more or less, have focused on something important – in Divergent, each faction focuses on values and in committing to just one, they ensure peace; in Anthem, no one is allowed to invent or discover for fear that we will become better than one another, the focus being equality – that has become so warped it no longer creates the good society everyone was trying for.

Ultimately, Dystopian novels are about seemingly perfect, but really warped societies that are oppressive. Another important point is that they are set in the future. They have already gone through the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic stages to arrive at this rebuilt, dysfunctional society. Maybe we only get little pieces of this history, but it’s there, lurking in the background.

What about the Hunger Games?

MockingjayCover.jpg

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a HUGE Hunger Games fan. (I even have a mockingjay tattoo.) But you might have noticed that I didn’t include it in any of the lists above. I have Divergent, but no HG. What gives?

Well, in short, I’m not quite sure it fits.

If you ask anyone who’s read the series, they’ll probably tell you it’s a dystopian novel. Me included. That being said, I’m not really convinced that it is.

If you noticed my definition, you’ll see that an important part of dystopia is that the society¬†seems perfect. And for anyone who’s read the Hunger Games, you know that it is *not* perfect. Nor does it seem anywhere close to perfect.

If anything, we know right off the bat that this society is awful. Destructive. Unequally balanced in power and wealth. We know this because Katniss comes from the poorest of the poor. She’s disillusioned to the point where there is no question about the awfulness of this world. So if we know this from the get-go, can we really call this a dystopia?

We might, if we were in Effie’s head. Or even Cinna’s, maybe. We might if we were from District 13 where the rules are suffocating, yet in place for a very valid reason, and is the other side of the Capitol coin. These perspectives would show us a world that on the surface looks like it really could be the perfect society. Effie’s life revolves around fashion and wealth. From her perspective, everyone is happy, healthy, and indulgent. To her, rebellion – initially, at least – would be one of the worst things. But as we get farther into how the society works, we’d see how terrible it really is.

But from the perspective of District 12, there is no questioning what a terrible world we live in. So I’m inclined to say that you *can* call this a dystopia for brevity’s sake – because can you imagine having this conversation with a die hard fan? – but it’s not really.

(You could probably make a similar argument for 1984, I’ll admit, so that one maybe it’s a great example of dystopia either.)

So what do you guys think? Are you sold on my distinction? Do you agree with my examples? Do you have some of your own? Share them below!

sincerely3

E.C. Orr