Jenny's Library

Reading Round-up 2014: week 2

Posted on: June 7, 2014

cover image for PinnedPinned by Sharon Flake

Autumn’s learning disability means she struggles in school; Adonis is at the top of the class. Autumn is the star of the wresting team, feared by boys as well as girls; Adonis needs a wheelchair to get around.  Autumn is always surrounded by friends; Adonis is reserved and keeps to himself.  So what happens when Autumn decides that Adonis is the boy for her, but Adonis refuses to say more than the rare hello?

Told in alternating points of view, Pinned explores what it means to respect and care for others, and to understand and empathize with them and their circumstances.  Flake does an excellent job with the two characters different voices.  Autumn’s chapters are particularly well done; Flake manages to stay true to the kind of vocabulary and syntax Autumn would use without making her seem like a stereotype or less intelligent than she is.

cover image for Slimed!Slimed! An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age by Matthew Klickstein

Slimed! consists of an exhausting number of interviews with a variety of people who worked for Nickelodeon from it’s inception through the 1990’s, from child actors to adult ones, producers, animators, writers, and everyone in between.

The decision to group the intervewees’ responses by topic, rather than by person, show, or chronologically was a good one.  It allows readers to get a balanced view of the range of opinions and memories are on various topics, from the the key design and marketing decisions that made the Nickelodeon we came to know and love, to more controversial topics such as the firing of the creator of the Ren and Stimpy Show and questions about about race and representation.

Unfortunately though, we also aren’t given an introduction as to who everyone is, which made following the interview responses fairly confusing at times.  I couldn’t have read this book without the help of google.  There is an index at the back of the book, but (and perhaps this is just my ereader) it’s not always as easy to flip pages on an ereader as it is with hardcopies, and it’s not evident that this index exists unless you read through the table of contents.

If you grew up watching You Can’t Do That on Television and The Adventures of Pete and Pete, as I did, it’s well worth a read, although perhaps not worth paying hardcover prices to do so.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

I’m not going to try to give a synopsis the way I usually do, because OMG this book.  Also, the synopsis might make it sound like it may be worth reading, and it’s NOT.  Except to mock it, which is part of how I was bribed into reading it.

There is nothing about this book that makes sense or follows any kind of logic.  It makes me want to laugh and cry and scream all at the same time.

two cover images for Throne of Glass

First, Celaena, the main character, is supposed to be a very skilled assassin, but we pretty much never see her being competent.  She’ll win and defeat her enemies at times (a very few times), but when you read what she does to do it, you’ll wonder how in the world she managed to survive.  Most importantly, she’s still a prisoner during most of the book, and spends very little time plotting her escape. And the time she does spend plotting and planning and preparing, she doesn’t spend well or intelligently.

Secondly, the castle is made of glass. (Some of it anyway.) In a kingdom that has outlawed magic, so sorcery can’t be the reason it hasn’t fallen down. And how do the doors work?  And what about temperature control? The whole idea makes my head hurt.

Third, Celaena likes dresses – A LOT. Which is not something I’m against! I’m not even put out that the character’s appreciation of fashion lacks depth. I’m annoyed by how the book’s presentation of fashion is so incredibly shallow, considering how much time is spent on it.  There’s no world building here, in terms of fashion or textiles, and what they indicate in terms of class, status, and the like.

Fourth, Celaena recovers way too quickly from essentially being tortured via working as a slave in the salt mines.  And I don’t just mean in terms of her body recovering too fast, I mean the fact that this experience only ever seems to affect her physically, mentally, or emotionally when it’s convenient for the plot.  There is no nuance to her experiences, and no understanding of how this kind of harm actually affects people, no recognition of the suffering of real people in similar situations.  It’s all very cartoonish, in a way that minimizes what this kind of injustice and deprivation actually does to people.

Lastly, there is way too much slut-shaming in this book. It’s bad enough that were told rather than shown that Celaena is a skilled assassin.  It’s bad enough that her love of “girly” things is presented so shallowly, rather than with depth.  And it’s particularly bad that she’s given a tortured past that’s dealt with very disrespectfully.  But on top of all that we get Celaena judging other women for doing the same things she does, and the narrative supporting her in this assessment.

I won’t say you shouldn’t read this book, but I do suggest that it be read in small doses, and with lots of alcohol and access to social media for mocking.

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