Twlight

I’ve been away for awhile, and I suppose it’s time I talk about Twilight. Because it is indeed day 12 of the 30 Day Challenge (sort of) and I really love to hate this series. Or maybe I hate to love it. Probably both.

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Now, I’ve seen many blogs and authors and generally people completely disregard the Twilight series, and I don’t want to do that. I love talking about Twilight. And, if I’m to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have ever really started reading had I not read Twilight. I hated reading. All through grade school unless it was Junie B. Jones of Captain Underpants or a nondescript fairy tail picture book, the chances of my reading it were slim. I was criticized, of course. I still am. In grade school I had a ‘college’ reading level, so why wasn’t I reading harder books? My friends kind of scoff and go ‘I was already reading Harry Potter in first grade’ as if they’re actually above  Junie B. Jones and Captain Underpants. There were a couple books here and there I read on my own and loved, like Bud Not Buddy and a couple of the Goosebumps books and Gilda Joyce. But when I read Twilight, I was introduced to a whole new world of literature. I really didn’t know there were fantasy books that could hold my attention. Fantasy movies had always been my favorite, but I’d seen fantasy books as these tomes you had to commit to. But not Twilight. It was like my gateway drug. But for books. So I can’t just write it off. (As I’ve said in a previous post, you shouldn’t be so quick to write off anything that so many people love).

So I’ve compiled a list. Five things I hate about Twilight and five things I love.   

The Shit List

1. It’s not a saga. I know, of all the things that could possibly bother me, it’s one word. But i hate it when people describe something and they do it wrong. A saga is a long story of heroic achievement. It’s not a long story, as it takes place over only a couple of years. And it’s not about heroic achievement. It’s about love and standing up for what you believe in. Something extraordinary happening to a normal girl. People like Bella because she’s basically normal, not because she especially heroic. So it’s not a friggin saga and stop pretending it is.

2. The friggin love triangle. I hate love triangles with every fiber of my being. If you really loved the first one, you wouldn’t have fallen for the second one. It was also unnecessary to the story, and it doesn’t make sense that it was Renesme because  fantasy needs to be rooted in basic fact to work and I just can’t go with that. it also seemed to perpetuate the idea that and guy and a girl can’t ever just be friends and it made Jacob out to be a whiny little asshat when his base was of perhaps the best friend a person could ever have.

3. Character development. Fantasy or no, the characters are still people and people tend to react to certain things in certain ways. I like Edward in the movies infinitely more than in the books, because he makes more sense. 90 years and he never had sex? Really? And why the hell would he leave? And why did Jacob suddenly need to have Bella? And why didn’t Charlie really try to find his daughter? I can’t handle it.

4. Accidental abusive relationship. Accidental is the key word here, and abusive if probably the wrong word. Let’s say unhealthy, leaping right over the edge to obsessive. He left, and she was a zombie until he got back. Depression, I get. But that was slightly extreme. And if that whole soul mate thing caused her to do that, then I still don’t understand how Edward could have left in the first place. But the fact remains, he went so far as sabotaging her car so she couldn’t visit her best friend. People say ‘oh, he’s just protective’. But seriously. If your boyfriends messed up your car so you couldn’t see your friend, would you be okay with it?

5. Some of the plot points really kill me. An example: I get that Bella is so good as being a vampire. It offers a great contrast. But the explanation is bullshit. Everything happens for a reason, Bella was meant to find her soul mate. They could only ever be together in immortality – as vampires. Okay. I can dig it. But as an explanation to her being so good at it? By that very logic, they all should have been good at being veggie vampires as they were all meant to become vampires to find their soul mates. Meyer could have just as easily said Bella was good because she’d had so much preparation. She had seen these things and she knew what to expect and it was her choice and all that good stuff and it would have made much more sense.

Really Great Redeeming Qualities

1. The discussions I can get from it. I have spent so much time talking to people about how it would have looked with our various style of writings. I’ve heard some people say they would have switched it to a different point of view, like Edward or Jacob, and make the romance a subplot, teasing you with it so that its that much better when you finally get there. With me, it would probably be 3rd person. With  the kinds of things I write, though, it would have been about the Volturi and the corruption there and this huge dark thing about a romance existed between a Volturi member and a Cullen or something completely weird like that. I like contrast. Anyway, i get some great discussion about Twilight. It’s one of those things people can just talk about.

2. The lore. It’s all very interesting and serves to remind people that it’s fantasy – you can basically do whatever you want with it. You want to make a vampire sparkle? Then go ahead. Have a blast. I mean, I think that’s kind of ridiculous, but still very interesting.

3. Racial tension. I love stories with racial tension, and I think it does a lot to mirror the sorts of issues we face today. it makes the whole thing more interesting and more frustrating to read. While it was dealt with a bit weird, I believe that fantasy is one of the best ways to get across the racial tensions we still face today. I mean, there was just about no logic to the tension between the shapeshifters and the vampires. Basically, they thought the other side was dangerous and didn’t slow down enough to double check. For awhile, it kind of seemed like the wolves were more biased than the Cullens, but if you really read it, that so isn’t true. And I think it was all an accident.

4. The characters. Not Bella. I don’t like Bella. She’s a neutral mask character to the point where she becomes boring. She starts out enjoyable, then become insufferable. Until she’s a vampire and done with that whole damsel thing. But then she’s just kind of boring. But the Cullens. I love the Cullens. And i love the ideas behind all the characters, and how they’re all slightly neutral mask so fanfiction writers can just go at it. I love Aro and Marcus and the ideas behind the Volturi. I’m always interested to learn more about them (even though the thing with the witch twins doesn’t make so much sense – good idea, poor explanation). I just really enjoy them all. It’s all so interesting, especially knowing you could probably get an independent  book  o novella out of most of them.

5. Jasper. Is it cheating? I love Jasper. So much. I often joke that New Moon should have ended with Jasper killing Bella in the early chapters (I really don’t like that book). And when they were voting and he just goes “I’m getting tired of wanted to kill you all the time.” Oh Jasper. Aren’t we all? Jasper is the character I can geek out about, and the character that I would skip through the books to find. Because yes.

Yeah. That’s my list.

This Six Questions of Socrates

Day 11 of the 30 Day Challenge: I really hate this book.

Don’t tell me that I just didn’t ‘get’ it or I should stay away from books like this if I’m not prepared for philosophical frustration. Because philosophical frustration is one of my favorite things.

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My problem with this book is it has no destination. Phillips tries to play the role of Socrates, so to speak, in attempting to break down other people’s arguments. Which he doesn’t do. He gives some background as to where he is (which is, admittedly, interesting for some of the parts) and then lets us read the discussion of other people without once posing his own questions forcing the reader to really think about it. I’m okay with there being no answer to these questions. It’s just that for forty pages it’s a few people saying the same things worded differently and then he brings it together by telling us what Socrates might have thought. Yes, it’s a pretty good introduction to philosophy. No, it is not a bad book. But I hate it so much.

This book goes nowhere. I would have probably enjoyed this book a lot more if it wasn’t a summer read book and instead after each chapter we had hour long discussions about what the answer of the question was for us. The six questions of Socrates, I believe, are not something that can be written about in such a manner. They’re the type of things you sprinkle over a philosophy text or even complete fiction that prompts real thought in really situations. If you’re just reading a discussion then your own thoughts are almost taken out of the picture as you read what everyone else has to say.

Any books you hate?

 

Best in YA Vol. 2

Hello again, dear readers. It’s supposed to be day 10 of the 30 day challenge, but I don’t really feel like I can go into that one. So instead, I’m going to talk about a couple of books I’m mentioned in previous posts. Enjoy!

Realistic

2114838The Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon

It’s true: After 17-year-old Ben’s father announces he’s gay and the family splits apart, Ben does everything he can to tick him off: skip school, smoke pot, skateboard nonstop, get arrested. But he never thinks he’ll end up yanked out of his city life and plunked down into a small Montana town with his dad and Edward, The Boyfriend. As if it’s not painful enough living in a hick town with spiked hair, a skateboard habit, and two dads, he soon realizes something’s not quite right with Billy, the boy next door. He’s hiding a secret about his family, and Ben is determined to uncover it and set things right. In an authentic, unaffected, and mordantly funny voice, Michael Harmon tells the wrenching story of an uprooted and uncomfortable teenaged guy trying to fix the lives around him–while figuring out his own.

I loved this book. I think about it constantly and try not to cry about the fact that I don’t own it. I mean, seriously. What’s up with that? Anyway, for me this actually wasn’t one of those super angsty books. You really see where Ben is coming from. And he’s so funny. There were moments in this book where I had to put it down because I just could not stop laughing. This was couple with the heart wrenching moments between Billy and Ben, as Ben finally found someone to connect with, since both their moms left them and never spoke to them again. Ben’s dad is an asshole. I can see where he’s coming from a lot of the time, but he always plays the ‘you hate me ’cause I’m gay’ card, which even causes Edward to roll his eyes. Edward is just lovely. Ben actually likes Edward more than his dad and refers to Edward as his momdad. Their conversations are also quite funny, as Edward can’t help but point out all the oxymorons. For example, one of my favorite parts in the book is when Ben goes, “I don’t hate fags.” Heh. Then, of course, there’s Edward’s mother. She’s tough. She cares, but you’ll never know. She’s always watching and will lock Ben out of the house if he doesn’t finish the yard work. She’s the best. Anyway, the book is hilarious and heart warming and go read it.

Supernatural

Suck it Up by Brian Meehl2842796

Are you up to your neck in bloodsucking vampire stories?

Tired of those tales about dentally enhanced dark lords?

Before I wrote this book I thought all vampires were night-stalking, fangpopping, bloodsucking fiends. Then I met Morning McCobb. He’s a vegan vampire who drinks a soy-blood substitute called Blood Lite. He believes staking should be a hate crime. And someday he hopes to march in a Vampire Pride Parade. He was also the first vampire to out himself and try to show people of mortality, like you and me, that vampires are just another minority with special needs. Trust me—this is like no other vampire book you’ll ever feed on.

So, as my buddy Morning says, “Pop the lid, and suck it up.”

I like this synopsis. It doesn’t tell you what the book is about, but I like it. Basically, Morning McCobb let’s the world know vampires are thing, some people don’t want it that way, and shit gets crazy. This book is wonderful. I just realized a couple weeks ago that there’s a sequel (Suck it up and Die) and freaked out. This is another book I need to own immediately. What I love about this book is how quirky it is. Morning is a scrawny geek. The comic book references in the book are fantastic (His favorite comic is Watchmen) and Portia, the love interest, is great. She’s a spitfire and like, you know, a person. Like, she doesn’t believe Morning is a vampire for the longest time. Their relationship all comes very naturally. It’s not one of those love at first sight deals, or the ‘I’m going to protect you’ type stuff (If Morning did go that route, Portia’s response would be something like ‘Fuck you, I can protect myself). For me, the greatest part of this is that Morning wants to be a firefighter. A vampire. Firefighter. Please read this.

Have a nice day.

North of Beautiful

This is really late. But we’re going to pretend it isn’t. Okay? Okay. Good. It’s Day 9 of the 30 Day Challenge: A book I thought I wouldn’t really like bu ended up loving. That book is North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley.

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It’s hard not to notice Terra Cooper. She’s tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakable “flawed” face. Terra secretly plans to leave her small, stifling town in the northwest and escape her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob’s path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?

I picked this book up from the local library on a whim a couple years ago, mostly because the chapter titles were all references to maps, there is a reference to Helen of try in the first paragraph, and the story takes place north of Seattle. Got some mad love for Washington. (Side bar, here in Washington, we don’t call Washington D.C. Washington. It’s D.C. If they didn’t want the confusion they shouldn’t have made us a state). I wasn’t expecting much from this. But, the story is much more interesting than it seems.

Let’s talk about Terra. She’s insecure. She has a perfect body, and she’ll be the first admit it, but she has this  body because she works hard to get it. And she works hard to get it because she had such extreme dysmorphia for her face, she is obsessive about making everything else perfect. What’s wrong with her face? She has a port wine stain. This is when I started getting interested, by the way. Her port wine stain, a birth mark, covers about half of her face. It’s smooth (some stains are not so smooth) but it’s dark. She’s grown up hearing people tell her how pretty she will be if the laser treatments work.  The laser treatments never work, so she still wears a pound of heavy make up every day to cover it. Terra’s boyfriend, not Jacob, is no help. He’s just your average white guy. He’s embarrassed by Terra’s face too, but she’s never met anyone who wasn’t so she assume it’s normal. And she’s embarrassed by her face, so she doesn’t expect him to be okay with it at first. But their relationship doesn’t actually have any substance anyway. Then there’s her father. ‘controlling’ doesn’t even begin to cover it. He’s abusive to her and her mother. I’m pretty sure it’s exclusively emotional abuse, but that’s still terrible. He’s as asshole.

There there are big chunks of the plot the synopsis doesn’t even mention. First, Terra is an artist. She makes collages, and she’s pretty talented. She doesn’t think she is, and doesn’t like to show people her work, but she that’s a huge part of the story and a huge part of who she is. Then there’s China. China is a huge part of the story. Terra’s dad is a cartographer (hence, her name and all other map references in the book). He found a map that suggested the Chinese actually found America first, but it was proved to be a fake and he let it ‘ruin’ his career. So he hates China. There is a map of every part of the world hanging in their house, but he deliberately left out China. And part of the book takes place in China.

Which leads me to Jacob. Jacob is one of my favorite characters in a  book ever. His story line is really interesting, and he’s just a really cool character. That ‘unexpected collision’ is meant quite literally. Terra and her mother are driving home from another unsuccessful laser treatment in Seattle (which they didn’t tell Terra’s dad about). Leavenworth gets quite icy during the winter, so when they go to stop for coffee Terra ends up swerving, almost hitting a guy, and running into a Range Rover. Terrible day so far, but this is where Jacob comes in. Jacob is a boy who was adopted from China when he was very young. Which is super rare. He has a scar on his face (from a clef lip correction surgery, we later find out) and becomes the first person in existence who appears not to notice Terra’s port wine stain. The car belongs to his mom, a really nice blonde lady who is the very image of an independent woman who don’t need no man (which is shocking for women who live in an abusive house).

Anyway, Jacob is the best. He’s someone who’s been stared at his whole life, so he’s come up with this really great philosophy. He knows people are going to stare, she he decides why they’re going to stare. Going to a small town? Dress like a goth. He sees most clothes as costumes. I like that.

Anyway. The story is wonderful, the execution is great, and i felt slightly bad for doubting it after I read it. But you can’t blame me. The synopsis was terrible.

What about you guys? Have a book you thought you wouldn’t like, but loved?