You say goodbye, and I say hello… (Giveaway!)


As a few of you may have already noticed, I am in the process of switching this site over to my own self-hosted one (which is already up and running, but still under minor construction!).

To celebrate this change as well as thank you all for sticking with my through this blogging journey for so long, I’ve set up a giveaway! You can enter to win signed copies of Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson (as well as a signed Unexpected Everything pouch) and The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.

You must be following me on the new site to be entered, following me on this site will not count towards the giveaway and your entries will be disqualified, so make sure to head over there and check it out!

Thanks everyone!




Review: Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince #1
Published by Berkley on April 7, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, LGTBQ, Historical
Pages: 270 : Paperback edition
Source: Borrowed from my local library
Add to Goodreads

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative, and deadly, his new master, Prince Laurent, epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…

I’ve come to the realization recently that I have series phobia. On top of that I’ve been adverse to hype ever since I was extremely let down by Looking for Alaska and The Hunger Games in high school. So, when this slowly started filtering onto my radar the past couple months on Tumblr, I questioned if it was really THAT good.

And IT IS. Whatever hype you’ve heard about it? It’s true. I flew through this (total) in probably just a few hours, and only stopped reading because school, work, and sleep got in the way. I haven’t been this sucked into a book in such a long time and it felt great.


A pretty accurate representation of how I felt upon finishing Captive Prince.

There’s so many compelling things going on within these first 270 pages (I can’t WAIT to get my hands on the rest of the series), but above all you’ll find political strife, gay/lesbian/bisexual relationships, a historical aspect that lends a hand to some really excellent fanart, and a writing style that sort of slaps you in the face in its simplicity, yet complexity.

There were a few times I would put this down and just kind of stare into space like “what the hell did I just read? How does C.S. Pascat do that with her words?” And the rest of the time I was just left gaping at the page, shocked that anything could be that good.

Long story short? Buy this series right now. Buy the whole thing. I’m serious, you’re not going to want to make the mistake I did of not having the sequel right next to you to pick up immediately. Need more convincing? Check out my status updates on Goodreads while I was reading this:

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 7.07.15 PM

ARC/Graphic Novel Review: Golem by Lorenzo Ceccotti

Golem by Lorenzo Ceccotti
Series: N/A
Published by Roca Editorial on August 31, 2016
Genres: Graphic Novel, Science Fiction
Pages: 280 : Paperback edition
Source: A copy was provided by the publisher (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review
Add to Goodreads

Set in post-Eurozone Italy, entrenched in a bizarre form of hyper-capitalism, GOLEM follows a young boy kidnapped during a political protest gone sour, who learns that he has the power to not only change the city, but reality itself. This wildly imaginative political-sci-fi graphic novel is a visual tour de force, created by contemporary design icon Lorenzo Ceccotti.

Admittedly, I flew through the first 200 pages of this in a single day and after finishing up the last 80 I sort of regretted it because it flew by almost too fast and then the ending felt so rushed. The final battle was only a couple pages and I was left wanting more explanations for what had happened and what was going to happen after the book ended.

Additionally, I don’t think I fully understood everything that was happening in the world because there wasn’t a ton of background given to us. I do think there is a good story here, but it just seems like something that we’ve seen so many times again and again.

What really saved this for me and what caused me to give it more than just two stars was the art work. It’s really phenomenal and compelling to look at. Story aside, it’s a beautiful piece of work because of the vibrant colors that clash with the dark imagery. Really exceptional.

I would say give this a try if you’re having a thirst for some dystopian graphic novels, but don’t spend a lot of money in doing so.

Graphic Novel Review: Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan

Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang (illustrator), Matthew Wilson (illustrator)
Series: Paper Girls #1-5
Published by Image Comics on April 5, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Comics
Pages: 144 : e-book edition
Source: Received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (via NetGalley)
Add to Goodreads

In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this smash-hit series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.

My first thought when I finished reading this was “WOAH. That went a little fast.” And this can be seen as both a good and a bad thing. I like that the story didn’t drag out and moved along, but it also moved at a pace that was just a bit too fast for me. I wanted it to slow down and show me more of what was going on.

That being said, I think it was an okay set up for what seems like is going to be a really cool series. I anticipate liking the next compilation of variants to be better since they’ll be able to dive more into the nitty gritty of what is going on in and have more world/character building.

I’ll admit, I do have a soft spot for Brian K. Vaughan’s works (especially Saga) so that was what originally pulled me in to this series, but the artwork is also incredible and very 80’s. Radical. I mean look at that cover! Those girls look awesome!

Speaking of the girls, they were all a tad underdeveloped, but again, I think with time they’ll be able to show how awesome they are in their own way. Not to mention that each of them seem to have their own skill set and capabilities/knowledge that disallows them from falling into the tropes of so many comic girls I see. They’re not simpering ladies waiting for someone to save them. They take charge and do what they can (all at 12 years old!).

Overall, I gave it a three out of five stars. The pacing and lack of development in some areas bothered me, but the art and dialogue made up for that. I’m excited to read the next one!

ARC Review: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Series: N/A
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on April 26, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology, Romance
Pages: 352 : e-ARC edition
Source: Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (via NetGalley)
Add to Goodreads

Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds friendship and warmth.

But Akaran has its own secrets – thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran’s magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar’s plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk – it threatens the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly.

Now, Maya must confront a secret that spans reincarnated lives and fight her way through the dangerous underbelly of the Otherworld if she wants to protect the people she loves.

THE STAR TOUCHED QUEEN is a lush, beautifully written and vividly imagined fantasy inspired by Indian mythology.

When I read this I felt like I was being transported to another world. Which honestly hasn’t happened too often, or even recently, so it was a refreshing read over all. Chokshi was able to weave together a story as enthralling as it was beautiful. Steeped in mythological references and deeply sated in Indian culture, I loved finally having a protagonist who was a really awesome woman of color and a story that felt true to its roots.

Maya, our main character seemed so real to me. She makes mistakes and see’s the error of h9781250085474_il_2_0c898er ways and isn’t this perfect cookie cutter type character where everything works out perfectly. She experiences joy, but there is also loss in her life and this helps her grows and defines her as a person and a ruler.

Amar *fans self* wow. Amar was interesting and intriguing, always being shown as this mysterious figure. By the end of the novel though I wish we could have gotten to know him a little better because I didn’t 100% connect with him (and the relationship felt underdeveloped).

I ultimately gave this 4 out of 5 stars because I think the writing needed a smidge of refinement since at times I wanted to be shown not told, but there are some really beautiful passages and imagery here that will make this one really memorable for me. I highly recommend pre-ordering this or picking it up once it comes out in a few weeks!

Graphic Novel Review: Baby’s in Black by Arne Bellstorf


Baby’s in Black by Arne Bellstorf
Series: N/A
Published by First Second on October 1, 2010
Genres: Graphic Novel, Music, Nonfiction
Pages: 208 : Hardcover edition
Source: Checked out from my local library
Add to Goodreads

A fascinating, exhilarating portrait of the Beatles in their early years.

Meet the Beatles . . . right at the beginning of their careers. This gorgeous, high-energy graphic novel is an intimate peek into the early years of the world’s greatest rock band.

The heart of Baby’s In Black is a love story. The “fifth Beatle,” Stuart Sutcliffe, falls in love with the beautiful Astrid Kirchherr when she recruits the Beatles for a sensational (and famous) photography session during their time in Hamburg. When the band returns to the UK, Sutcliffe quits, becomes engaged to Kirchherr, and stays in Hamburg. A year later, his meteoric career as a modern artist is cut short when he dies unexpectedly.

The book ends as it begins, with Astrid, alone and adrift; but with a note of hope: her life is incomparably richer and more directed thanks to her friendship with the Beatles and her love affair with Sutcliffe. This tender story is rendered in lush, romantic black-and-white artwork.

Baby’s In Black is based on a true story.

If you follow me on Tumblr or Twitter, or have had the misfortune of interacting with me on any social capacity, then you know I have an obsession with this little band called The Beatles (sorry by the way to all the people I’ve tried to push their music on).

Anyways, when I found this little graphic novel about Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe (he was the original Beatles bass player and Astrid was his fiancee/the one who inspired a lot of the Beatles’ early looks and a kick ass photographer) and nearly screamed. This graphic novel felt like a split between Persepolis and Maus, though obviously with a much less serious topic.

I really enjoy these types of graphic novels where the art is more sketch based with some ink in there for contrast/depth. They’re easy to read and especially for an era like this where all the photographs were in black and white it read as if I were diving into a photo from that time period and taking a peek at their lives.

The real question here is: should you read this if you’re not a Beatle fan? Maybe. If you’re a die-hard, overly obsessed Apple scruff like me, then absolutely pick this up. I finished it in about half an hour and was laughing and saying “aww” through the whole thing. Even if you’re a casual fan it’s a good read about the early “Teddy Boy” years when Ringo wasn’t even in the band and there were 5 “Silver Beetles”. But if you’re not a huge fan (what is wrong with you) then I’d say perhaps give this one a pass.

You know, despite having no artistic or musical inclinations, I often want to chop off all my hair like Astrid and wear dark eyeliner, and go to little clubs to listen to rock and roll bands. Sigh, guess that’s a by product of me not being born in the right time period. Darn it.


ARC Review: Dreamology by Lucy Keating

Dreamology by Lucy Keating
Series: N/A
Published by HarperTeen on April 12, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 3336 : ARC edition
Source: Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Add to Goodreads

Vibrantly offbeat and utterly original, Lucy Keating’s debut novel combines the unconventional romance of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with the sweetness and heart of Jenny Han.

For as long as Alice can remember, she has dreamed of Max. Together, they have traveled the world and fallen deliriously, hopelessly in love. Max is the boy of her dreams—and only her dreams. Because he doesn’t exist.

But when Alice walks into class on her first day at a new school, there he is. Real Max is nothing like Dream Max. He’s stubborn and complicated. And he has a whole life Alice isn’t a part of. Getting to know each other in reality isn’t as perfect as Alice always hoped.

Alarmingly, when their dreams start to bleed into their waking hours, the pair realize that they might have to put an end to a lifetime of dreaming about each other. But when you fall in love in your dreams, can reality ever be enough?

When this first popped up on my doorstep from HarperTeen, I have to admit I hadn’t heard of it but was very intrigued by the cover, the title, the synopsis…pretty much everything. Add to that that I had been in a bit (ie. a 2 month long) reading slump, this was just the book I needed to kick my reading funk all while being a super adorable and enjoyable read!

This is the type of book that eating a marshmallow while listening to soothing music on a rainy day feels like. In other words, it’s sweet, it stops and makes you think about your life, but it also has that hint of sadness to it (just a hint. A splash. Like adding cinnamon to hot chocolate).

The entire premise of this story is just so refreshing and original. I find dreams to be very special so to have a story written about them in such an interesting way made for a really interesting book. Especially since the dreams and psychology of it all was explained here and there but not in a way that detracted from the story (I mean, hello, Mr. Levy sounds awesome and I want to sign up for his psych class immediately).

I also really enjoyed how the dreams were described because I fell into the pages and wanted to be there with Max and Alice the entire time. And the rest of the characters were awesome as well! So original and life-like.

So, I think this may go down as one of my top books of the year and hope to see a lot more from Lucy Keating in the future!

Bonus: Totally give this song a listen while reading Dreamology. I had it on loop almost the entire time and it just worked so well with the entire book. Continue reading

ARC Review: The New Guy (And Other Senior Year Distractions) by Amy Spalding

The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions) by Amy Spalding
Series: N/A
Published by Poppy on April 5, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320 : e-ARC edition
Source: Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (via NetGalley)
Add to Goodreads

A ridiculously cute, formerly-famous new guy dropping into your life? It’s practically every girl’s dream.

But not Jules McCallister-Morgan’s.

I realize that on paper I look like your standard type-A, neurotic, overachiever. And maybe I am. But I didn’t get to be the editor of my school’s long-revered newspaper by just showing up*. I have one main goal for my senior year-early acceptance into my first choice Ivy League college-and I will not be deterred by best friends, moms who think I could stand to “live a little,” or boys.

At least, that was the plan before I knew about Alex Powell**.

And before Alex Powell betrayed me***.

I know what you’re thinking: Calm down, Jules. But you don’t understand. This stuff matters. This is my life. And I’m not going down without a fight.


* Okay, I sort of did. But it’s a sore subject.

** I mean, I guess everyone knows about Alex Powell? Two years ago, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about viral video boy band sensation Chaos 4 All. Two years ago, Alex Powell was famous.

***Some people think I’m overreacting. But this. Means. War.

Filled with romance, rivalry, and passive-aggressive dog walking, Amy Spalding delivers a hilariously relatable high school story that’s sure to have you falling for The New Guy.

If you follow me on Twitter (which you totally should; there’s fun gifs and you get to hear about the dumb shenanigans I get myself into) then you know I was struggling with whether or not I should give up on this book. I ultimately decided to do so after reaching the 60% mark. I’m not writing the book off completely, since I think there were some really awesome components in it, but it ended up coming down to me getting annoyed with the main character mixed with some “I don’t really care about this story anymore.”

So, pros! I started off really liking the unique voice that this contemporary had. Jules definitely does not care what others think of her and I liked her inner dialogue…until it became annoying. There was a specific turning point in the novel when I couldn’t relate to her anymore and I started to find myself flicking past pages wondering when she was going to stop talking. Alex also got on my nerves. He seemed sort of sleazy from the beginning. No, I didn’t make it to the end so maybe he does redeem himself, but the point I got to made me really dislike him.

Gay parents! Yes! Jules’ mom’s were so rad. I probably stuck it out as long as I did because I loved them and their dialogue. Can we get a book focused all around their romance? I’d read that in a heartbeat.

I also got a bit sick of Jules’ friends and the way she treated them. Jules is so caught up in her own life that she can’t even take the time to respond to emails/texts and her friends let her get away with it! Maybe I’m just not an overly forgiving person, but it continued to happen enough in the book that I seriously questioned why her best friend, who’s name I can’t remember beyond “the loud one who acts as the foil to the quiet one” would put up with that crap.

Maybe I’m just getting too old for contemporaries? I really hope not. Maybe it’s my own fault too for siding with the “bad” characters too. I mean Jules is pretty set in her ways, which I’m all for sticking to your guns, but she did it in such a way that shut down everyone else’s ideas, and I wasn’t too thrilled with that.

At the end of the day I am giving this two stars though. I think (and hope) some people will find it enjoyable, but it just wasn’t for me. As someone pointed out to me on Twitter, life is too short to waste time reading books you don’t like. On to the next!

(As it’s becoming a common theme with my DNF’s, I do really like this cover. There’s just something about it that is great! Maybe it’s the soft pastels)

What do you think? Have you read this one yet? Are you going to pick it up when it gets released next week? Let me know!

Discussion: Racism and Intersectionality in YA Fiction


For those of you who follow me on Twitter, I may have filled up your feed with annoying Tweets about how I was coming towards the end of my quarter and was working on a final paper for my Feminist Theory class, and a lot of you requested to see the final product so here I am to provide it to you (and spark some discussion along the way).

To break it down for you, the assignment required me to write about any topic of my choosing as long as I related it back to feminism and a theory we had discussed in class. I chose YA fiction, as I have done for a slew of other papers throughout my college career (seriously, I think I’ve written almost four of these and it’s only my junior year). I then chose to look at YA lit through the realm of intersectionality, which is basically the ways that oppressive institutions (i.e. classism, homophobia, sexism, just to name a few) are interconnected.

So, as we all know, YA lit is a pretty expansive topic and the more research I did, the more I found that writing about what I know was going to be easiest. Duh. So I examined The Hunger Games, Twilight, and Divergent series’ from the book series, to the movie franchises, to the actresses playing the characters, to examine whether or not a series is feminist and/or racist (whether inherently or not). Obviously there are a lot of series out there that I could have examined, but these three were the simplest in terms of having common themes and being very popular, plus the fact that they all have movie franchises that coalesce with what I was discussing.

The paper itself is pretty extensive (about 13 pages) so bear with me as I post it here and bore you with theory and feminist terms. And I should also preface this with, don’t steal my work. Seriously, I worked really hard on this for far too many long nights in the Uni library. With that being said, here we go!

I’d also love to hear your thoughts so make sure to leave a comment below of what you think!

Racing Towards Intersectionality in YA Fiction

Feminist theory and Young Adult (YA) fiction, on the surface level, seem like two separate entities that would have hardly any crossover with each other. However, when examining the two on a much deeper level and exploring the different aspects of YA fiction and the factors that make up its fictional genre, especially when considering protagonists, it becomes clear that feminist theory can be used as a means of examining YA fiction in addition to the films that accompany popular YA fiction series’. By exploring the feminist theory of intersectionality and the oppressive institutions that shape the worlds and characters written in YA fiction, troubling factors are brought to light, specifically a lack of racial diversity.

Under the lens of an intersectionality theory, oppressive institutional powers such as racism and sexism can be examined. This will act as a guide for why YA fiction and movies are detrimental to young women, specifically those who may one day become feminists. While the realm of intersectionality can be broad, it becomes narrow through the lens and domain of fiction that my research focuses on.

Intersectionality itself is defined as, “not an abstract notion but a description of the way multiple oppressions are experienced” (Smith, para. 1). Women in particular are often the subject of much oppression and marginalization. To examine popular texts within a society, it may be possible to derive where these messages are coming from and what effect they can have on a young group of people. YA fiction is a particularly interesting section of literature to examine because it has recently transcended the youth group and resonates with individuals who do not fall into the spectrum of 12-18 year olds. YA fiction has changed from the era of Judy Blume’s Forever, which often functioned as a sex manual to teens. It has now moved to a wider range of previously neglected individuals and identities such as gay teens, transgender explorations, and of course, vampires and the supernatural world.

So, why is the exploration of intersectionality important if YA texts are moving to a more progressive state? Unfortunately, there is still a wide range of straight, white, male characters that are dominating the market and being consumed by the masses. Therefore, an intersectional theoretical approach to examining YA fiction is necessary. In the article, “A Feminist Research Agenda in Youth Literature,” the author, Kay Vandergrift states that literature cannot be thought about, “without an awareness of the male hierarchical society in which literature is produced and read” (23). By establishing that the white patriarchy is the dominant force behind YA fiction and dictates the types of books being published for teens, a trend becomes evident in exposing the problem of a lack of representation of minorities, especially race, within the genre.

Vandergrift also goes on to point out that in recent years, more of an effort has been placed on creating female protagonists to bridge the gap between gender inequalities in YA fiction. In doing so, publishers and authors have indirectly lent a hand in excluding, “the voices of those of different races, classes, ethnicities, and sexual orientations” (24). This is why intersectionality, and specifically in the scope of this essay, race, are so important because they include all genders, identities, and sexual orientations, going beyond that of just gender and having strong female protagonists.

For example, Katniss Everdeen, the central character of The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins is described as having, “Olive skin, ‘straight black hair,’ which she pulls into a braid, and grey eyes…it’s pretty safe to say that Katniss is not necessarily Anglo-Saxon” (Jezebel, para. 5). Katniss is the main character of the trilogy and continues to stand as a feminist icon eight years since the first book in the series was published. She stands as a testament of being one step closer to having more mainstream and popular YA books becoming more integrated with racial minority main characters. However, that does not dissuade the fact that due to this ambiguity, her race is left up to interpretation and can be seen as white, something that Hollywood chose to portray Katniss as in the film series of the same title.

If audiences are to assume that Katniss is white, she exhibits a “white savior” complex in the series brought about by the hegemonic stereotypes reinforced through other white characters within the novel. Minority characters that are specifically stated to be African American “are marginalized; able to exercise agency against the corruption of the Capitol, but only via [Katniss]” (Kirby, 466). Again, a feminist character is presented to the masses, but the author reinforces hegemonic tendencies without the scope of intersectionality. Collins thusly reinforces the detrimental effects of having a character that, on the surface level, seems to be an inspirational character, but falls short of the racial divide.

Feminism and intersectionality can be mixed together to provide a framework of a theory. Both are important, but in the case of YA fiction, cannot be used interchangeably because they have different connotations that examine vastly singular schools of thought that overlap, but do not intersect. Not only that, but the essence of a strong female character, disregarding her other features momentarily, is almost never exactly defined. What makes a female “strong”? Strong female protagonists are usually labeled as such without distinct features provided to the audience, whereas their male counterparts are simply “male protagonists.”

This parallels the racial problem as well. Most characters in YA novels are automatically assumed to be part of the dominant class; white and straight. If they are not white and straight, they are immediately labeled as otherwise, and are called upon to “‘rise above the typical female stereotypes,’” while still satisfying a need for mainstream and cookie cutter characters that can be easily related to and consumed within a novel or series (Rubinstein-Avila, 366).

For example, going back to The Hunger Games series, audiences were seemingly shocked when Rue, a young black girl from one of Katniss’ fellow districts in the books, was cast as a black girl (the actress portraying her being Amandla Stenberg, a fourteen year old at the time). She is clearly written in the canon material as having, “dark brown skin and eyes,” (Collins, 45) but audiences were still infuriated and outraged that a black actress was portraying the black character. Even with clear indications from the original material that a supporting character is not of Caucasian descent, characters are still assumed to be of the hegemonic majority, despite being proved otherwise with concrete textual evidence.

Another harmful factor that can lead to misrepresentation of characters within YA fiction has to do with how a book is marketed and presented based on its cover and title. In the early 2000’s much emphasis was placed on creating covers that were focused on, “more representational covers – no people, just images – to achieve cross-gender, multicultural appeal” (Yampbell, 357). However, this trend began to change in the mid-2000’s when an abundance of covers with pretty, pale, white girls in ball gowns (i.e. Images 1, 2, 3) were displayed on covers across a multitude of bookstores.


This is also around the time when novels such as the Twilight series, by Stephenie Meyer, were coming into the spotlight and focused on the beauty that came with being a vampire, which meant having pure white skin. In comparison to the white skin of the vampires, the werewolves, who are portrayed as Native American’s, are put in a position of implying animalistic tendencies of Native American’s in general. This unintentionally puts them in a position of appearing to be the villains. Bella Swan, again, a white female character, who has zero redeeming qualities, is put in the middle of the conflict between the vampires and werewolves.

Eventually, Bella does become a vampire and finds herself redeemed from her beautiful and perfect skin. The idea of enforcing this very specific type of skin tone plays into the idea that those who are reading the material, typically young adults, but in the case of Twilight, often married women, can position themselves into the characters shoes and yearn to identify with the character. As summed up in the article “That Teenage Feeling”: “Importantly, envelopment and submission to these fantasy scenarios is facilitated and perhaps even contingent upon a specific engagement of the text: that of ‘girl’ reading” (Petersen, 59). However, just because this is a fantastical world in the paranormal romance genre, does not mean that different rules apply when it comes to intersectionality and race. If anything, the ideals of bringing forth a fantasy world full of multicultural diversity is even more pronounced since the possibilities are virtually endless when creating a world that has no boundaries.

When Stephenie Meyer places Native American’s into a box where each one can be summed up as having “skin like russet-colored silk in the firelight,” (Eclipse, 242) and “long arms and legs, long fingers, long black braids, and long faces with long noses” (Midnight Sun, 612-613), and that one of the Native American characters lashed out, literally, on his wife, she is perpetuating a long standing tradition of white imperialism in which every Native American looks alike and has a tendency of spousal or domestic abuse. Meyer also employs the white characters (i.e. the vampires) to trade insults with the characters of color (i.e. the werewolves) in which “the vamps lob insults like dog and mongrel” (Peterson, para. 28). Again, Meyer is aiding in perpetuating a stereotype that Native American’s are beneath the Caucasian hegemony. These subtle messages that are being sent in YA fiction are extremely harmful to the audiences, because it shows them that this type of behavior is acceptable and goes beyond the realm of a fantasy book; that it can be repeated in real life.

Twilight is a classic example of how old ideas of hierarchy shine through in the 21st century, especially in the United States, which has a long history of oppression of not only Native people, but races of any color other than white. As a modern society, we should be moving towards going beyond acceptance, and full integration of marginalized and oppressed people into leading roles, without looking upon them in disdain. YA fiction attempts to do this, but white structural oppressions seem to shine through in the more popular and well-known fictional series’.

Kristen Stewart was cast as Bella Swan in the movie franchise, and has identified herself as a feminist on multiple occasions. What does this ultimately say about the character she chooses to play, who is not feminist under any definition or variance of the word? Should actresses like Kristen Stewart take more of a stand on wanting to portray characters that have more feminist attributes (which is something she has been leaning towards in recent years, such as her role as Cole in the film Camp X-Ray)? Or does attempting to portray a non-feminist character to the best of her acting ability show that she has a wide range of talents? No matter the case, clearly there is still a disassociation between characters that are not feminist and the audiences who look up to these characters that define themselves as feminists. This also expands to the actresses cast as the characters too.

Where does this leave feminists? Second wave feminism “drew in women of color and developing nations, seeking sisterhood and solidarity, claiming ‘Women’s struggle is class struggle’” (Rampton, para. 9). If second wave feminism brought in women of color, rather than excluding them, and was a movement that was based primarily in the 60’s to about the 80’s, then why does YA fiction of today not also parallel this movement?

YA fiction, a generally new topic (and an ever-expanding one) in the literary world, falls short of being inclusive. Despite this, YA fiction is still enforcing age-old tendencies that place feminists and women of color in oppressed situations and storylines. Putting aside race momentarily, another popular series that features a “strong female character” is the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth.

Divergent’s main white character, Tris, is placed in a faction separate from her family and friends, which first signifies that there are overarching powers forcing her to be complicit in this society. Her main enemy throughout the series, a cold, calculating, white woman by the name of Jeanine, is seen as the oppressor, but is only viewed as such because of the patriarchy of the society. It’s problematic that Jeanine is the villain because it pits women against each other, while men stand by and watch them fight. Even Tris’ love interest, Four, “constantly humiliates her, supposedly for her protection” (Ferrell, para. 12). However, Four does ask for explicit consent during their sex scene, something not typically seen in YA novels. If there is a sex scene, it is implied after marriage and is considered consensual without being explicitly stated (as seen in the final Twilight book, Breaking Dawn).

Divergents themselves can be seen as feminist icons though, in that they are “framed as a threat to society, they are attacked by what counts for media in their world, and they must constantly guard against those who wish to exploit and destroy ‘their kind’” (Wilson, para. 6). However, are they really feminists if they are not inclusionary of all types of races and individuals from all backgrounds? Divergents in the series also have a tendency to be very suspicious of others and regard themselves highly (albeit with a mixture of fear). Therefore, on the surface level they may appear to be feminists, if that definition of feminism excludes looking at intersectionality and ideas of harmony among all races.

To complicate things further in the real world, Shailene Woodley, the actress who portrays the character Tris in the movie franchise, has stated that she is not a feminist, “on account that raising women to power and taking it from men disturbs a balance” (Ferrell, para. 10). While this is clearly the wrong definition of feminism, having a non-feminist portray a seemingly feminist character can be problematic to young viewers and readers of the series. It blends together old ideas of the patriarchy being supreme with a character that goes against systematic oppression. In contrast to the casting of Rue in The Hunger Games film franchise, Shailene Woodley as Tris was a prime example of bad casting in an industry that is known for being male dominated. This further sends mixed signals to young readers, especially girls, who are looking to celebrities as icons for shaping their beliefs about the society they live in.

It is often said in feminist studies that the “personal is political” and this is especially true in terms of race and the marginalization of certain cultures. In alignment with this, especially in the case of the Divergent series casting, I would argue that the fictional is political. Again, readers are exposed to worlds where anything can be possible, but instead are confined to patriarchal values and systems of oppression, which can be damaging, not to mention, confusing, for impressionable adolescents.

Taking the three examples of The Hunger Games, Twilight, and Divergent, we can begin to see how despite the contextual and plot differences within these novels, they have overlapping ideals pushed towards audiences about feminism and intersectionality, or the lack thereof. The patriarchal institutions that are in place within these stories; the Capitol in The Hunger Games, Edward controlling Bella in Twilight, and the mysterious institutions in place in Divergent, all stand as tangible forces that are controlling these young women. On top of that, all three characters are white (Katniss is being based off the movies, though her race in the books can be argued either way) and do not offer a representation of strong women across cultures and from different backgrounds, similar to the real world.

These series are therefore reinforcing ideals that the white hegemonic males are the one’s who are behind the controls of almost every aspect of young girls’ lives. How can young women expect to find leaders in the fictional worlds they are diving into without having any sort of diversity? All of these books are written by white women, showing that even outside of these worlds, books written by women of color are not promoted as extensively as books written by white women. In recent years, there has been a push for more recognition of characters and authors that are of different races, in order to show that the standard white, straight, character is not the norm any longer.

Even within classroom settings, there is often an unintentional push towards white authors and teaching “white literature.” For example, a survey was conducted of the types of Young Adult literature taught in university courses and found that, “The concept of multicultural literature was seen as valued, but respondents agreed that it is ‘undervalued and overlooked’” (Hayn, 48). If multicultural and intersectional literature and/or fiction is not being taught at University levels, where it may be too late to integrate such ideals anyway, then how can it be expected to be provided to children or youths outside of a classroom setting?

If the publishing industries were to advocate more searches for works and authors that have written more diverse novels, they would ultimately contribute to an influx of stories and plots that more children and young adults could enjoy. As mentioned previously, in recent years there has been more of a push for intersectional works and, “The robust YA market continues to offer a wide range of books for all kinds of readers” (Crowe, 148). Furthermore, once there has been a mass publication of these different stories, the standard of having less white characters that will dominate the market and then make it “up to parents, librarians, and English teachers to know books and steer young readers to the literature – YA or classic – for which they are best suited” (Crowe, 149).

As a reader myself, who is a straight, white, feminist female, I attempted to examine some of my favorite novels and determine if they fell into the category of intersectionality or racial diversity. Unfortunately, I found that most of the books I have read in recent years do not fall under such categories, and I also could not name more than five off the top of my head that featured a main character of a different race. With the feminist knowledge and expertise I now possess from three years of education at a university, I would have assumed that I would be a much more savvy shopper and consumer of fictional material. The books I remember reading were more non-fictional stories, assigned in my high school classes, and not picked up for my own enjoyment, in which the person of color went through a struggle. Again, I find the fault being placed on the publishing industry and their lack of promotion or creation of works that would even garner a large category of YA fictional books.

As a young feminist woman who aims to have a career in the publishing industry, I would hope to contribute to the influx of titles that allow for marginalized groups. Ultimately, I would like to go beyond simply having multicultural characters that are depicted in supporting roles or having white characters in international settings. This would move away from using exotic backgrounds to enhance a story without actually looking at the people who are from such a setting. Additionally, this would also negate the practice of a characters ethnicity being used “only for descriptive purposes rather than functioning to depict insights about the culture or cultural practices” (Koss, 566). An ethnicity, whether in the fictional world or reality, should not be used as a means for highlighting the hegemony to a status where they are seen as inherently “better” because of their differences. Differentiations in race and culture should be celebrated and expand beyond acceptance towards a realm of not having to point out variances or nuances because they have become so normalized.

As stated from the start, intersectionality can take on a variety of stances and have differentiations depending on what lens it is being looked through. In terms of feminist theory and YA fiction, intersectionality is examined as a way of going beyond the fictional world to seeing parallels to the marginalization of people of color in our own world.

The intersectional theory applied here though, has allowed for examining YA fiction beyond what is a good or bad story. The consumers of YA fiction, largely young teens to adults, are one of the most impressionable groups of people in this society. If they are shaping their ideals and trying to strive for a more accepting and open future, this can be achieved through the idea that I have proposed that the “fictional is political.”

YA fiction is not a blip on the literary world’s radar. With its growing marketability and consumption by a wide range of individuals from extensive backgrounds, YA fiction has secured its place in the literary world and beyond. Through readership, YA fiction will open the realm for examining more than just intersectional theory in a way that is accessible and understandable to all audiences, even those who do not discern themselves as feminists.

Ultimately, YA fiction needs to develop further within itself by promoting the oppressed who have not had similar opportunities as their white counterparts. This will crush the hegemonic and historical tendencies that have permeated across novels and series in YA fiction.


Works Cited

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008. Print.

Crowe, Chris. “Young Adult Literature: The Problem with YA Literature.” The English Journal 90.3 (2001): 146. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.

Ferrell, Ty. “”Divergent” Touches on Feminism and Class Divides.” The Weather Vane. Web. 09 Mar. 2016.

Hayn, Judith A., and Jeffrey S. Kaplan. Teaching Young Adult Literature Today: Insights, Considerations, and Perspectives for the Classroom Teacher. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012. Print.

Kirby, Philip. “The Girl on Fire: The Hunger Games , Feminist Geopolitics and the Contemporary Female Action Hero.” Geopolitics 20.2 (2015): 460-78. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.

Koss, Melanie D., and William H. Teale. “What’s Happening in YA Literature? Trends in Books for Adolescents.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 52.7 (2009): 563-72. Web.

Meyer, Stephenie. Eclipse. New York: Little, Brown, 2007. Print.

Petersen, Anne Helen. “That Teenage Feeling.” Feminist Media Studies 12.1 (2012): 51-67. Web.

Peterson, Latoya. “Running With the Wolves – A Racialicious Reading of the Twilight Saga.” Racialicious the Intersection of Race and Pop Culture. 2009. Web. 09 Mar. 2016.

Rampton, Martha. “Four Waves of Feminism.” Four Waves of Feminism. 25 Oct. 2015. Web. 09 Mar. 2016.

Rubinstein‐Avila, Eliane. “Examining Representations of Young Adult Female Protagonists through Critical Race Feminism.” Changing English 14.3 (2007): 363-74. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.

Smith, Sharon. “Black Feminism and Intersectionality.” Black Feminism and Intersectionality. International Socialist Review. Web. 03 Mar. 2016.

Stewart, Dodai. “Racist Hunger Games Fans Are Very Disappointed.” Jezebel. 12 Mar. 2012. Web. 09 Mar. 2016.

Vandergrift, Kay. “A Feminist Research Agenda in Youth Literature.” Wilson Library Bulletin (1993): 23. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.

Wilson, Natalie. “Are Divergents Feminists in Disguise?” Ms Magazine Blog. Web. 09 Mar. 2016.

Yampbell, Cat. “Judging a Book by Its Cover: Publishing Trends in Young Adult Literature.” The Lion and the Unicorn 29.3 (2005): 348-72. The John Hopkins Press University Press. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.



Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor
Series: Into the Dim #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on March 1, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Time Travel
Pages: 432 : e-ARC edition
Source: Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Add to Goodreads

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing. 

I thought after the catastrophe that was Lady Midnight that I could dive into something that was much more fast-paced and enthralling but…I was left disappointed again.

It wasn’t that Into the Dim was necessarily bad, I just was so uninterested with the story after finishing 21% of it. I had little care for the main character, who’s name I can’t even remember, the story, or pretty much anything. I wasn’t sucked in as I had hoped and while I think there is a good premise here, it’s not something that had me on the edge of my seat, chomping at the bit, trying to figure out what was going to happen next.

The whole thing felt like a set up for a very stereotypical YA novel. Which, you may be thinking, “what the hell does that mean?” I just felt like it was very “I’m not special” character who is special coupled with “I don’t know what all this means” when a new world is thrust upon her. I actually yawned.

Maybe I’ll give this one another go at a later date, but as of right now, I just can’t push myself to read (or even skim) any further.

The one thing this book does have going for it? Gorgeous cover!