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I Changed my Favorites List!!!

Yesterday, my profile’s favorites list consisted of: Percy Jackson and the Olympians (series), Ready Player One, The Illuminae Files (series), Throne of Glass (series), The Raven Cycle (series) and Six of Crows (series)

I have now removed The Illuminae Files, and replaced it with Amelia Westlake, the book I was sent for Lit Club and read yesterday. Wow it was good. I won’t go into too much detail, because I assume I shouldn’t say too much without first talking about it in Lit Club, but I will give the follow reasons why it is one of my all time favorites.

1. It had great representation of LGBT teenagers and the problems they face. It was so nice to see some lesbian and bisexual representation that had zero stereotypes. All LGBT characters truly felt like their sexual orientation was only a small factor, just as it is and should be, as it is for straight characters. So often a LGBT character’s orientation consumes their character, however Amelia Westlake didn’t do this at all! There was also intersectionality shown through a badass POC bisexual girl!

2. The characters were so good. They were all unique, diverse, clearly different from each other, flawed and human. I felt that all of them were realistic and I could connect to each in different ways.

3. It handled many difficult and important themes and issues (sexual abuse/pedophilia, manipulation in relationships, elitism/classism, discrimination (race, sexual orientation, and gender), the corrupt values and conservatism often seen in private girls schools (I certainly see it in my own school) and more)

4. The plot was original, exciting and unique! I loved the how the character’s personality greatly influenced the plot and that the plot developed their characters further. I’ve never read anything like this, and it was so exciting to read something so incredible that made me feel like just maybe this could happen to me.

 

So why did I choose to demote the Illuminae Files?

1. Out of the 6 books on my list, this had the least diversity and representation. There was one mention of the main character’s mentor being Chinese, and some non-western surnames can be recognised in minor characters, and the LGBT representation is honestly abismal. There is one mention throughout the entire series of any LGBT people, and that is one man who lives with his husband on another planet. (I didn’t even remember that, I had to look it up to see if there was anything). There are no characters with disabilities and no intersectionality whatsoever. Every main character is cisgender, heterosexual, caucasian and able. It also wasn’t very progressive in the way women are treated. (Sooo many I slept with your sister jokes and objectification of women. Ugh.)

2. The characters were a bit under developed. A lot of sci-fi cool stuff, space, A.I. drama, zombies, ect, but not much soul or life to the characters

3. The series decreased in quality as it went on. I LOVED Illuminae (the first book), however Gemina (the next one), wasn’t quite as good, and although the last one, Obsidio, had some cool plot twist reveals, it was ultimately, even worse.

Despite all this, The Illuminae Files is still amazing!! The formatting is unique and engaging, and the plot is exciting and well thought out. It may be being demoted, but it is still my 7th favorite book.

So there you have it, Illuminae Files is out and Amelia Westlake is in. Thank you Inky for introducing me to (and sending) this book to me! I highly recommend it to everyone!!! (Unless for some reason you really hate contemporary YA. Idk why you would but apparently people like that exist) If you’ve read either of these, tell me what you thought!

12 comments

rhapsody

OOF i need to read Amelia Westlake now. Although I agree with your point on Illuminae Files, it does lack the rep. I'm quite confused as to why you didn't demote Throne Of Glass considering it has some racist and homophobic tropes in it making everything pretty white hetero and abliest, just one view of the story of course, but I'm interested in what you have to say on the topic!

9th Jun, 18
ladybird

I have noticed the homophobia, especially biphobia in that she made Aedion her token LGBT main character in the most straight way possible and painted him as quite a sexually casual character (she also did this to her character in her other series) which made me quite uncomfortable at the time as I was questioning my own sexuality. There’s definatly a lack in LGBT characters, but the one she did include was good, an older gay couple who didn’t seem to face any kind of discrimination. However it’s an issue that there aren’t many LBGT characters because there doesn’t seem to be any homophobia in the society to keep them closeted.

I actually didn’t notice the racism while reading it but I’ve just read a few reviews and now I can’t believe I missed it, the racism in particular. I didn’t really realise that everyone in the series, except Nehemia and Sorcha who were both killed basically for white character’s development, are white.

9th Jun, 18
ladybird

Tower of Dawn did improve the diversity, as it focused on the differences in the culture of the two continents and also has a few passages about Nesryn, her heritage and the racism she faces. It seems clear from this book that the society Mass has built is racist and that she has attempted to fix the racism by focusing on it in this book, but that doesn’t change the fact that her characters and her world is racist and her plot perputrates the white savior trope.

In regards to the ableism, I thought that Tower of Dawn actually delt with Chaol’s paraylisis and her world’s ableism pretty well? Choal is treated like a baby by many of the characters but Yrene treats him normally and with her help he learns that his injury doens’t make him any less ect. What did you think about that? Or was it something else?

9th Jun, 18
bookwithbane

I think there weren't many non-white characters because of the geography. Of course that's no excuse. I'm glad Nesryn was there though. I didn't really notice any ableism. Ladybird explains it.

In regards to the ableism, I thought that Tower of Dawn actually dealt with Chaol’s paralysis and her world’s ableism pretty well? Choal is treated like a baby by many of the characters but Yrene treats him normally and with her help he learns that his injury doesn’t make him any less ect. What did you think about that? Or was it something else?

About the homophobia, I think it was more the times, as Throne of Glass is kinda medieval. As I'm sure you've noticed, I've talked how people make diversity seem like a quota and add it in. Makes it seem worth less

10th Jun, 18
ladybird

In reply to bookwithbane

I don’t really think so. If there aren’t many non white characters because of the geography then there should be none. We know that POC exist in the universe so there should be a higher ratio of white people:POC. There’s also an issue that Maas killed the only two POC, but she RARELY kills any white main characters. And those two POC were killed to further the character development of the white characters. As for the homophobia, the characters themselves aren’t homophobic at all. There’s no homophobia I can remember to Aedion and there was a Fae gay couple and nothing was ever said to imply there’s any kind of discrimination. My problem is more to do with the way bisexual people are portrayed in her books to be very sexually casual and active and bad at having committed relationships which promotes the view of bisexual people being somehow greedy.

10th Jun, 18
bookwithbane

In reply to ladybird

Oh yeah I can see how that

11th Jun, 18
ladybird

Hi I got a notification saying you wrote a comment 3 days ago but I can’t see it here. What did it say?

14th Jun, 18
ladybird

I also took off The Illuminae files because it decreased in quality as it went on and the characters were really under developed. Whereas I like the plot and the characters of Throne of Glass. Almost all the books I read are problematic in some way because white authors rarely get it right and I mostly read books by caucasians (which needs to change) because I usually read off prize lists and bookshop recommendations which are completly dominated by white authors.

I really hadn’t thought about this before so thank you for pointing it out to me. What did you think about the way Tower of Dawn addressed these issues?

9th Jun, 18
otaku

It's nice to see someone else who agrees with the way the Illuminae Files got progressively worse! By the time I got to Obsidio, it frustrated me to no end! I loved the action, but all the characters sounded the same - they literally had the same crude, snarky, and sarcastic tone.

I think that while I would like to see LGBTQIA+ characters featured in the series, I also think it portrays a sense of tunnel-vision in the whole idea of war. It may also bring across a point of the main character's own race and how it doesn't occur to her to even note people's sexual orientation - maybe it is just a norm (as it should be). However, as I mentioned before about the character voices all sounding the same, I do think it is slightly strange that not one of them would have picked up on these important factors that make up a person.

15th Jun, 18
otaku

Another point is, maybe Jay and Amie didn't want to feature the main protagonist's and maybe moreso other character's as being LGBTQIA+, because it would only be in passing. I assume because of the genre of science fiction and action, which particularly in their writing is super fast-paced and seems to skim past a lot of important details, they might not be able to give important character details for LGBTQIA+ characters. I say this because I think the characters in the series in general lack depth, which I think is fine for the series itself because I think the plot is more important to the overall story ARC.
But yeah, I totally agree with your points! I think at the very least, they should have had characters like Solangelo from Percy Jackson in this series

15th Jun, 18
ladybird

In reply to otaku

I think that even representation in passing, something like a woman mentioning thier wife or girlfriend, is worth something, which would make it clear it is the norm. Another (better) option would have been to have one or two main characters be LGBT+. Again, if it is the norm, then it should require no extra character development (not that there’s much to begin with). I agree that the genre means it’s won’t be a perfectly diverse book, but it would be nice to see some rep. I’ve thought more about the lack of racial diversity, and I think that in a futuristic world, it’s likely there’s been enough biracial children that races kind of just disapear (which is explicitly stated in another futuristic book I just read, Scythe), and that it’s more likely race now depends on which planet you’re from. It would be nice to see that in writing, but as you said, the book is very fast paced.

15th Jun, 18
otaku

In reply to ladybird

You've made some great points - completely agree!!
Also, I love that you mentioned about how the races would most likely disappear and be essentially dependent of which planet you're from. It's so strange that no one really talks about that in science-fiction ://///

15th Jun, 18