glitter_n_gore: (will graham)
Greetings! We are in our second week of Pride Month and I’m talking about Remus Lupin--more specifically, the question of whether the character is bisexual.

Since Lupin is the only one of the werewolves on my list who is not explicitly confirmed in the text as bi, I took a poll. Here's what it looked like:

Screenshot of Twitter poll with question “Is Remus Lupin Bisexual?” and results
Yes = 63%
No = 13%
Not Sure = 13%
Whatever JK Says = 11%

I asked more informally on my regular blog as well. As you can see, results were mixed. More so than I had anticipated. This is why I wanted to start here. More often than not, LGBT fans do a lot of guesswork to figure out if there are any non-straight, non-cisgender people in the fictional universe we're being shown. Unless it's a world that's helmed by a writer/director/producer who's actively trying to create more diversity in that particular area, it’s down to the audience to interpret what we’re given.

Read more. . . )
glitter_n_gore: (underworld)

Behold! My Belated Official First Post of 2017!!

I, uh, watched a lot of movies last year. SO for my first official post of 2017, I’m doing a MASSIVE breakdown of the stuff I actually caught in theaters. Also, as you may have noticed, I have moved to DreamWidth! I’m still working on getting all the photos ported over here, so anything that links to Glitter n Gore is going to the LJ account until I get it fixed. Bear with me; I’ll make it work eventually. Meanwhile--movies! Let’s talk about those.

Cross-posted to [personal profile] rhoda_rants.

Capsule reviews below! )

What were some of YOUR favorite movie experiences from 2016?
glitter_n_gore: (mia)
Good lord, I let two whole weeks of October go by without posting anything Halloween-y! Shame on me. Let’s fix that.

As some of you know, one of my yearly traditions is the 31 Days of Halloween Movie Marathon. The challenge is to watch 31 horror movies--one for every day of the month--up to Halloween. Ideally, they should be movies one hasn’t seen before, but that gap gets harder to fill every year. Plus, I just want to see some of my old favorites again. This year, however, I am a few days off schedule. Partly because of planning and the number of hours in a given day. But mostly because I made the ill-timed decision to start a new television show. You may have heard of it. It’s called Supernatural.

Via Giphy

I wasn’t expecting much. I figured it would be entertaining in a dumb, snarkable kind of way. But here’s something I recently realized: somewhere between deciding to actually watch this properly, then getting hooked to the point of wanting to continue watching more episodes because it’s a lot smarter and more self-aware than I expected, and getting gut-punched by Season 2 in general, and by Episode 17, “Heart,” in particular (it’s about werewolves)--I have become a FAN of Supernatural. Because you know, I was kind of holding it at arm’s length before, mostly because of all the Problematic Issues people have warned me about. However, I was intrigued because so many of my favorite people seem to love it despite those issues, so I wanted to know what was so special about it.

The most basic of plot summaries: Supernatural is a road-trip across the continental US in a midnight-black 1967 Chevy Impala, stopping at all your favorite horror tropes along the way. It’s got werewolves, vampires, demons, ghosts, zombies, cursed objects, urban legends, abandoned places like asylums and cabins in the woods--it’s very much a horror kitchen sink. Our central protagonists are the brothers Winchester, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles), Hunters who seek out supernatural beasties and lay waste to them where they can. Their mother was killed by a yellow-eyed demon when Sam was exactly six months old; one side-effect of this was Sam being gifted with psychic abilities, the full implications of which haven’t been explored yet (at least not where I am in the show now--NO SPOILERS). Papa Winchester raised the boys like a drill sergeant, putting weapons and arcane folklore into their hands from a very young age. So the Winchesters have issues. But they are very good at killing monsters.

Saving People. Killing Things. Family Business. )
glitter_n_gore: (underworld)
Just got back! Trailer!

First things first: This is not a prequel. I thought it was a prequel. It starts prior to Snow White and the Huntsman, when Chris Hemsworth's character (who now has a name--it's Eric!) first gets taken by Queen Freya (Emily Blunt's Ice Queen is called Freya) to train in her army. But then it skips forward like 7 years and it's after Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron's Evil Queen from the first movie) has been defeated by Snow White (Kristen Stewart was not invited back), and supposedly everything is okay now. Until it isn't.

Really it's an expansion of the first movie, an opportunity to explore Eric's relationship with his first love, Sara (Jessica Chastain's definitely-not-inspired-by-Katniss ace archer), and how that all went down before Ravenna's minions picked him up in a tavern all depressed and mopey. It brings in new characters like Freya and Sara who are both a joy to watch, and whose characters arcs are more similar than they realize. The story is a basic quest adventure, with the quest object (the mirror) being the Sealed Evil In a Can variety, and I did enjoy seeing it come into play in the end. But I didn't love it as much as I wanted to. I have two main talking points here. Just two.

Spoilers here. )

*All GIFs via Giphy.
glitter_n_gore: (emma)
Have you heard of the Suck Fairy?

It's a wiley and sadistic little creature who visits all your favorite childhood movies, books, and TV shows, waves a wand, and POOF! Sucks all the magic and charm out of them. This is why when you revisit your favorite things from when you were a kid, you find yourself saying, "I used to think this was so cool, why does it suck now?" Because it's been visited by the Suck Fairy.

At least that was the explanation offered to me on the Internet awhile back. I forget which discussion brought this up. But actually, I'm experiencing sort of the opposite phenomenon now. What's the opposite of the Suck Fairy? A whimsical elf who visits things you didn't like that much on first encountering them, but then when you go back, you go, "Wow, I actually don't remember why I didn't care for this the first time, because it's actually awesome!" Any ideas? The Awesomeness Elf, perhaps?

Let's talk about The Mortal Instruments.

Book cover of City of Bones via Goodreads. Tangent: How gorgeous is that new boxed set? Wow. I'm glad I didn't buy the first editions, because now I can collect the prettier ones!

This best-selling YA urban fantasy series by Cassandra Clare has six books in the main line-up, plus a spin-off prequel series called The Infernal Devices, and most recently a spin-off short story collection called The Bane Chronicles. Since the adaptations so far are focused on the first book, City of Bones, that's mainly what we're talking about today. I have been wanting to love this series since the first book came out. Last week, I finally got it.

Read more. . . )
glitter_n_gore: (emma)
So guys! There's a new Star Wars movie coming out. As you may have noticed, I'm neglecting this blog badly. Ahem. But the reason is I've been running three--count 'em, three--separate review marathon series elseweb, and had to let something go. Anyway, we're approaching game time for The Force Awakens (yes, I have my tickets already OF COURSE), and I recently realized I have seen more movies this year than I have collectively in the past five--half of them in theaters. Why is that? Are movies especially awesome this year for some reason? Is there more big-budget, explodey-things fare that demands to be seen on the big screen? Have I found a larger number of real-life people who aren't my mom to go to movies with, instead of waiting for the DVD like I usually do?

A bit of all those things, but what I want to talk about today is this: Today's heroes are a little different from the heroes I grew up with. They're more flawed, more relateable, and more diverse. Funny thing, because most of the people playing heroes onscreen right now? Grew up at the exact same time I did.

I'm going to allow SPOILERS for The Force Awakens and all other films mentioned in the comments, and I won't be marking them because that tag is freaking impossible. But there will be none in the post itself.

Read more. . . )
glitter_n_gore: (louis)
Since I did a similar thing last year for Pride Month *just* before running out of time, I'm counting down my Top Whatever Queer-Friendly Movies/TV Shows.

Also like last year, I'm narrowing this down a touch to reflect the sort of things I actually watch. Matter of fact, when I started thinking about this I actually had to scale it back some. I'm choosing to see that as a good sign. Here are my parameters:

A) Visual media with canonically LGBT+ characters, as opposed to that awful, pandery bullshit known as queerbaiting. So no Supernatural, BBC Sherlock or Hannibal*. This tends to happen a lot with geek-centric shows trying to catch fans of SFF and Horror.

B) Completely fictional stories, as opposed to ones based on real-life events, which disqualifies Milk, The Normal Heart and The Imitation Game. (Although I highly recommend all three.)

C) Things I've actually watched and enjoyed, which disqualifies Lost Girl, The Legend of Korra and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but they are all on my list.

*I do enjoy Hannibal, but the only canon gay character we've seen so far is Margot, and she wound up in a hetero sex scene. So no, I'm not including it for *this* Top Whatever list.

First, an honorable mention:

The Dreamers
This is one of only two NC-17 movies I've watched multiple times (the other is the original Evil Dead, obviously), and one of VERY few romances I've actually enjoyed. It reminds me a lot of Before Sunrise--it has the same casual pacing and naturalist dialogue, only with lots more nudity. I got the impression very quickly that Michael Pitt's character, Matthew, is bisexual, but I've seen arguments made that Matthew is only romantically involved with Eva Green's character, Isabelle. You could read it that way, since all the "romance" between Matthew and Theo is implied, never shown, but I disagree. The book this was based on had a polyamorous triad as the central relationship, and was very much present in the original script. That said, it's ambiguous enough that you could go either way here.

(20th Century Fox)

I just realized two of my choices here include Eva Green. Interesting.

Moar! )

That'll have to do for this year. At least it's still June. Happy Pride Month, everyone!

*throws rainbow confetti*
glitter_n_gore: (jean gray)
Because one retrospective at a time just isn't enough, I'm also taking a look at the Disney Princess movies. ALL the Disney Princess movies, in chronological order, over an undisclosed period of time. I've also started posting reviews for some of the Star Wars books over at the library, so the first of those is here. I want this journal to be more active and do at least two or three posts a month. I know that's not super-active, but I'm learning.


The reason I'm doing the Disney Princess thing is I want to take a closer look at some of the criticisms and assumptions I've seen floating around out there about what sort of fantasy role models and heroes we have for young girls. So the obvious choice is to look at the fantasy role models I had as a young girl, and what they look like to me now that I'm older. My main questions/talking points are: Who is the main character and what values do they embody? & Is romance/marriage the driving plot or the goal?

Since this is the first post in the retrospective, I'm starting at the beginning.

Q: What's black and white and red all over?

A: Snow White. Also Goth chicks. Surprisingly, these two things aren't unrelated.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the first of the Disney Princesses, and the first feature-length animated film ever made. This isn't one of the movies I watched over and over as a kid, and the parts I remembered before rewatching it mostly involved the Queen and how frighteningly relentless she is. I'm glad the live action reboot didn't forget that, and managed to make the Queen even more awesome. Snow White, on the other hand, is both the least interesting character and the most fascinating archetype of all the Princesses. Today, I'm focusing on how we went from this:

To this:

I prince to come. )

Next time: Cinderella (1950)
glitter_n_gore: (leia)
Episode IV: From Farm Boy to Rebel Fighter (A New Hope)

Hey guys! As I mentioned before, I'm doing the Ernist Rister order for this rewatch. Since it's numbered weird, I'll list "Part X" in the title to indicate where I am in the rewatch, list the "episode" number in a sub-heading, and do a wrap-up summary of "The Story So Far" each time to keep from getting lost. There will be Unmarked Spoilers all over the place, so tread carefully if you're one of the few people who hasn't seen these movies.

I'm also rereading the novelizations of all six movies, in the same order, at the same time. I've read them before except for The Phantom Menace and The Clone Wars, so what I'm hoping is I'll be able to share more background stuff that wasn't in the movies, comment on how things change when they're added back in with the re-edits of the original trilogy, and how it affects the characters' journeys. For this entry, I'm gonna focus on our establishing character moments by looking specifically at two of them: Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.

Yes, I'm watching the re-edits this time, because I have Points to make regarding story structure, pacing, and character development. Also, I cheated and watched the theatrical version of A New Hope beforehand. Oops. But what's interesting about that is, since it's been almost twenty years since I watched the director's cuts of any of these movies, I'm looking at it sort of fresh. There was a lot that I'd forgotten about the re-edits and exactly how things changed, and while it's extremely disorienting the first time you see it--rather like someone has invaded all your childhood memories and rearranged the furniture when you weren't looking--it's actually not that bad. Well, not this one anyway.

Let's do this!

(Image taken from Giphy.)

The Story So Far:
Young Luke Skywalker, after stumbling across a mysterious plea for help from the beautiful Princess Leia, gets tangled up in the Rebellion against the Empire. In the process, he loses his only family--his aunt and uncle, who raised him--but befriends Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, space pirate Han Solo and his co-pilot Chewbacca, and the captured Leia . . . only to discover Leia can pretty much rescue herself. Because she's awesome. He witnesses Kenobi's murder by Darth Vader, the Sith Lord who also killed his father (or so he's been told), and joins the Rebellion. Finally, after the rest of his strike team is killed or incapacitated, he (with Han's help) destroys the Death Star battle station and is welcomed back as a hero. Vader, however, survives.

Meet Your Heroes... )

(Cross-posted to [ profile] rhoda_rants.)
glitter_n_gore: (han solo)
So hey, look at that, it's not March anymore! And it's DEFINITELY not February anymore. What happened? I'll tell you: I didn't finish my retrospective. Surprise! I'll tell you what else though: I kinda felt like I was biting off more than I could chew, trying to cover ten years in that time span. So I'm going to leave the Box Office Retrospective at 2010 for now, and come back with the next five years for the next Women In Horror / Women's History Month in 2016. Sound good? Good.

That in mind, I'd like to return to my Film of the Book series soon, since I finally got a chance to see Gone Girl and it's every bit as brilliant as you've heard. I also saw both The Maze Runner and Seventh Son, which were varying degrees of ridiculous and try-too-hard, but surprisingly enjoyable despite--or perhaps because of--those things. I'll expand on that later.

But first, I need to talk about something more important to me than box office numbers, badass women in horror movies, or even vampires.

I need to talk about Star Wars.

Read more... )
glitter_n_gore: (eric draven)
2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the 1994 adaptation of James O'Barr's The Crow. Which, sadly, makes it also the 20th anniversary of star Brandon Lee's untimely death.

I feel like The Crow is one of those movies like Jacob's Ladder and Silent Hill that I've seen dozens of times, and I talk around it every so often without going into a lot of depth. This week, before realizing thanks to an article in the current issue of Rue Morgue that it has been twenty years now (!), I had already started a mini-marathon focusing on Bruce and Brandon Lee's movies. I'm taking it as a sign. I'm also going to assume you've seen it already, and leave out my usual plot summary partly for the sake of brevity, but mostly because the plot is not really my main talking point here.

Let's talk about The Crow. . . )

Cross-posted to [ profile] rhoda_rants.
glitter_n_gore: (emma)
Credit for this blog idea is due to fellow AW member Cyia, who made the following post last week: "Just an observation, but looking at the differences in the ages of the characters in the books [of A Song of Ice and Fire] compared to their portrayals on screen, all of the main favored characters, with the possible exception of Tyrion [. . .] would have made this one of, if not the most popular YA series ever written. The POV would just have to shift a bit. Even the biggest baddie, in the form of a psycho boy king, would have been YA territory."

Have to say, I've never thought of it that way before. But she makes a fascinating point: A Song of Ice and Fire is more densely populated with teen characters--properly defined, developed, plot-driving characters, not just stereotypes and fillers--than most of the actual category YA books I've read. Seriously.

It's hard to remember this if you come to the series through the show, because so many of the characters were aged up; HBO has fewer limitations than network television about what it can and can't show, but there are Rules about minor actors and the sorts of scenes they can legally participate in. In the books, an overwhelming majority of the POV characters--Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow, Theon Greyjoy, Samwell Tarly, Arya, Bran and Sansa Stark--are all under 18. That's not even counting secondary characters who don't have POV chapters but still play major roles, like Robb Stark, Joffrey Baratheon, Ygritte, the Reeds, and Margaery Tyrell, who are all teenagers. Hell, even Jaime Lannister, who is technically an adult when we meet him, spends a big chunk of his narrations in flashbacks from when he first became a knight, at age fifteen.

As it happens, roughly the same time Cyia brought this up, an article started making the rounds from Slate about how grown-ups who read YA should be ashamed of themselves because: "There’s room for pleasure, escapism, juicy plots, and satisfying endings on the shelves of the serious reader. [. . . ] But if they are substituting maudlin teen dramas for the complexity of great adult literature, then they are missing something." (Full article here.)


Back to this again, are we?

So, every few months or so an article like this surfaces to scold the general populace for enjoying things that someone's decided are unworthy of being enjoyed. I still don't know why this is important. Since the Slate article has already been roundly debunked by a number of bloggers much more prolific than me, I don't even have to go there.

What I do want to ask is this: What is YA? The trouble with this question is, when you start trying to work out what YA is, you find it's a lot easier to dig up false assumptions about what YA isn't. There seem to be a lot of rules and expectations that actual YA books pretty much ignore, such as whether or not you can have gruesome violence, detailed sex scenes, foul language, etc., etc., etc. Look, either a given story calls for that kind of thing, or it doesn't, and all you need to do is pick up a handful of real live books in any category to discount any of those elements as qualifiers. Still, there are a few elements some say are required in YA that I find more compelling. But not entirely convincing.

Read more. . . )

*Let's leave Battle Royale out of this for now--it's a great piece of work, but reached a much narrower audience, and didn't spark the global phenomenon that The Hunger Games did.

(Cross-posted to [ profile] rhoda_rants.)
glitter_n_gore: (jean gray)
Let's get this out of the way first: her name is Moon Child. If you're asking "Who?" right now, then quit reading this review immediately and go watch The Neverending Story because this is going to be one of my main talking points. Okay, everybody on the same page? Good. Moving on!

The Neverending Story was a children's epic fantasy written by Michael Ende in 1979, translated from the German in 1983, and adapted to film by Wolfgang Petersen in 1984. The movie, of course, is what most people remember--and for good reason. It's fantastic, and one of my favorite movies of all time. Here, I'll be focusing on the first movie and how it lines up to the book, because like most fans, I prefer to pretend the two sequels don't exist. (Although the Nostalgia Critic does a pretty good throttling of them here and here, if you're curious--links Not Safe For Work, by the way.)

As I mentioned in the Ring review, this was my first exposure to the breaking of the fourth wall. And it BLEW MY MIND. Imagine you're four years old, creative, and more comfortable around books than people. Suddenly a movie arrives that tells you not only that books are real, but that the characters inside them need you to believe in them to keep them alive. I ran with that hard, and wound up with a vast menagerie of imaginary friends. (These days, I call them "characters" and write them into my own books.) There's a lot that I could gush about in this particular review, but I'll try to confine it to a few major points so this doesn't get too unwieldy.

Warning: We'll be talking about depression and suicide extensively in this review, so if anyone has triggers for that sort of thing, be aware.

In the beginning, it is always dark. )
glitter_n_gore: (jean gray)
First, a bit of background:

When I was little, I had a healthy-sized collection of My Little Ponies. Still do--let's be honest. One particular collection, the Sparkle Ponies, was very special to me because Mom used them as rewards when I did well in school. One at a time, she put each of the ponies on top of the refrigerator, and if I had good grades and good comments from my teachers at the end of the week, she'd take that week's pony down and give it to me. I loved those Sparkle Ponies not just because I'd earned them, but because they were space ponies, and that was awesome. (In retrospect, I don't know if they were actually from space, but that's what I decided. Because space ponies are awesome.)

I also had the castle with the working drawbridge, and I still remember how the heirarchy was ranked in my collection. When I turned . . . 8, I think? I had a pony-themed birthday party with official My Little Pony paper plates and cake and party favors, and real live ponies for me and the rest of the kids to ride in the park.

I never watched the show that was on at the time. I think I tried to once or twice, but I just got bored. I was always more interested in shows like Thundercats and later Inspector Gadget; when it came to the Ponies, I prefered to make up my own adventures in the privacy of my bedroom.

Fast-forward to mid-April-ish of this year, when I started to watch the rebooted My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. This newer incarnation of the show is the brainchild of Lauren Faust, formerly of The Powerpuff Girls and Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends. I became interested based on the sheer amount of buzz the show was getting on the Internet, and lo and behold, I was hooked in one episode flat. Friendship is Magic, in my opinion (and the opinions of countless others) is a vast improvement over the previous incarnation of the franchise due to its intelligent script writing, memorable cast of characters and streamlined animation, and all those things contributed to its success and popularity.

However, that's not what so remarkable about it. I'm talking, of course, about the Bronies.

Read more here... )

Last book read: Shine, Shine, Shine, by Lydia Netzer
Currently on: American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis
glitter_n_gore: (stargate snark)
Here's what I'm working on right now:

"Hoppers," which needed massive revisions, is getting them as we speak, and I'm running it through a local critique workshop to see if the plot makes more sense now. Have you ever tried to write a story with time travel as a central theme? Jiminy Christmas, it is HARD! Having said that, I've also recently rediscovered my love for Doctor Who, and trying to do this at the same time has given me even more respect and admiration for the writers on that show. The episodes aren't always perfect, but still pretty damn good. This stuff is so, so tricky to plot. Gah!

I also have a new-ish WIP (meaning a handful of preexisting plot bunnies have joined forces, either for good or for evil, can't tell yet) that's reached 3k so far. Still early, but I have a new monster to play with (a burrowing parasite that feeds on negative emotions), ghosts, space ships, and a supernova. It's gonna be fun.

"The Fire Worker" is DONE, at least the first draft of it. Yay! I so love typing "The End" at the bottom of a manuscript. I know I still have proofing, editing, revisions, beta reads, and then the query-synopsis-submission process to look forward to. But none of that even takes place if you don't get to "The End" first. It was a hard place for me to reach, and I burned through several half-finished manuscripts before I got there the first time. I'm proud of it. Completion is something to celebrate.

Honestly, there's not much else going on with me right now. Well, it feels like not much, but really I have one novel in revisions, another in the beginning stages, a third resting, and a short story still out waiting its turn in the submission queue. But since I'm usually writing several things at once, it doesn't feel like much. It's weird, but I think it's good. We'll see.

Last book read: Moxyland, by Lauren Beukes

Currently on: The Wayfarer Redemption, by Sara Douglas
glitter_n_gore: (jean gray)
I've been staring at this screen for close to two hours, wondering what I should say to commemorate a loss such as this. And I'm still staring. So I'm going to tell you a story:

Today, for no particular reason I can put my finger on, I thought back to a nightmare I had about a year ago, about the world ending. In the dream, I escaped, along with a handful of others, but we watched the world burning and there was nothing any of us could do to stop it. We were alive, but displaced and homeless with nothing but the clothes on our backs.

That was the dream.

I don't know why I was thinking about it today, but I wondered what I would do to cope once the shock and grief faded. In the end, I decided I'd do what I've always done: write everything down, everything I could remember, relentlessly and completely so it wouldn't be lost. I would keep the world as I knew it alive through stories.

When I first read Farhenheit 451, I knew going in one of the major themes was censorship and book-banning. But the thing that struck me the most wasn't the stifling of the written word. It was the way the characters ultimately discovered how to keep the great stories alive even after every book was turned to ash: they remembered them. Every word, by heart. The message that I took from that book was not that it's wrong to destroy stories, but that stories by their very nature cannot be destroyed. The medium for passing them on might change, but the stories themselves last.

I thought about all that today, and then I came home from work to find out the author who had put that idea into the world had left it. I can't help but wonder if the cosmos were trying to send me a message, seeing as I had Bradbury and his stories in my thoughts before ever hearing the news of his passing. Believe what you want about that, but know this first and foremost: nothing is ever really lost. As long as you can read stories, and pass them on, and remember them, they can and will last. And so will the people who gave them to us.
glitter_n_gore: (samara)
Happy February!

As most Americans know, this is Black History Month. As somewhat fewer folks know, it is also Women In Horror Month. With both of those things in mind, I'm compiling a reading list starting with the late L. A. Banks's Minion and Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower--both prolific, black, female authors of speculative fiction, and very successful to boot.

I don't know what else I'm putting in the list yet, but I figure that's a start anyway. (Recommendations are very welcome, by the way!) As [ profile] rachelmanija is trying to show for the LGBT circuit with the YA Floating Diversity Book Club, there are plenty of options out there. You just have to know where to look.

The issue that we try to bring forward this time of year is the existance of dark, weird, creepy stories written by, about and for women--and I'm not talking about the standard Scream Queen types who always wind up getting rescued by the hero (or not) at the end, usually after losing most of their clothing. I'm talking about real characters, with their own goals and passions, outside of a token appearance as the male hero's trophy or backstory.

There is a huge gender discrepancy not just in characters, but in creators of horror fiction, at least when giving the genre a cursory glance. The recognized "greats" of horror fiction--Stephen King, H. P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker, Bram Stoker, Peter Straub, Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson--are overwhelmingly male, with a few notable excepts such as Mary Shelley, Shirley Jackson and Anne Rice.

Even putting this discrepancy aside, horror is still mostly perceived as a man's genre, just as romance is seen as a woman's genre. Neither of which is true, by the way.

Given that perception, I've wondered sometimes what draws certain people to horror. What compels a woman to write, read or watch horror, when so much of it is so gender-biased and uneven? What draws me to it?

Read more... )
glitter_n_gore: (chiaki)

Firstly, no, I'm not cheating on my resolution (yet). I checked out Alison Goodman's Eon from the library late in December, and got around to finishing it only a week ago. (I am a slow reader.)

Secondly, the January pick for the YA Floating Diversity Book Club is up: I'm doing Libyrinth. And I'll be reviewing that, and the December pick sometime later. (Yes, a very slow reader.)

So, Eon is the story of the Dragoneyes--young men trained from an early age to commune with the spirit dragons of an alternate universe Asia, and thus control things like weather, the health of the emperor, crops prospering, and all kinds of good things. There's one dragon for each of the animals in the Chinese zodiac (although it's not called that in this universe), except one, the Mirror dragon (associated with the dragon zodiac), which has disappeared for centuries. And then Eon, a young apprentice Dragoneye with a lame hip and the unprecedented ability to see all twelve dragons without any prior training, comes to the ceremony that selects the Rat Dragoneye for that season, and the Mirror Dragon resurfaces and chooses Eon as its Dragoneye.

The catch is that Eon is actually Eona, not a young boy but a girl, and women are forbidden from using dragon magic--not only forbidden, but it's assumed that women have no power, so her training as a Dragoneye is not only prohibited but laughable.

This setup is pretty basic, actually, and I was expecting a good swashbuckling adventure with some high-minded preaching maybe about gender roles. However, what's amazing about this book is that it captures perfectly what it feels like to go through life closeted, to stifle your true identity so completely that you forget who you are and how to reconcile your role in life with what might happen to you if your secrets are discovered.

It's remarkably well-written to start with, so I knew by the first page that I was in for something more interesting and original than what I expected. Eon/Eona is an active protagonist, forced to grow up quickly make her own choices early on, and her growth and maturity were both believable and painful to witness.

She also has a close friend and ally in a character named Lady Dela, a transgendered female, who is described as having "the body of a man, but the spirit of a woman"--perhaps the most poetic and elegant description of a transgendered person I've ever seen. Goodman doesn't shy away from the malicious hazing this character has to endure either--Lady Dela has scars from where someone carved the character for "demon" into her skin, and she travels with a bodyguard to keep from being attacked. Also, Lady Dela is consistently referred to as "she," never casting any doubt on her feminine nature.

There is plenty of adventure here--mystery and hidden conspiracies, political intrigue handled in a way that stays interesting and holds the reader captivated, and Eona's budding friendship with the Prince which may turn into something more in the sequel, I'm not sure, but even if that's the case it's, again, handled in such a way that it comes off beautifully. But it's also a coming-of-age story about gender identity and knowing one's true self. Eona goes through an internal struggle on how "female" she really is, whether this masquerade is becoming part of her identity or whether she is just denying the female part of her nature for her own safety. The author brings up with deft subtlety the difference between conforming to prescribed gender roles in whatever society you're in, and claiming whatever gender you are as part of your being.

I don't know that this is really a metaphor for the closeted teenager, but boy does it have a lot of the same feeling behind it. That itch to confide in someone is there, coupled with fear that she might be exiled or even killed just for being what she is, and also the doubt about whether her friends will ever trust her again once they know she's kept such a big secret from them.

My looming TBR pile is the only thing stopping me from reading the sequel right now, but I highly recommend this book regardless.
glitter_n_gore: (underworld)

Another long post about one of the bigger-name paranormal YA titles out right now: Lauren Kate's Fallen. I actually like this series a lot, but I want to talk about some disturbing buzz I saw in the Amazon reviews, particularly for the second book. I don't put but so much stock in those things, because they are incredibly biased to start with, but I do like checking out the two and three star reviews every once in a while because I think they're the most useful. The five and four stars are mostly gushy and brimming with fangirl squee; and the one stars are hateful and non-specific. Mostly. Not all the time, but mostly. Thus, I like to see what the middle-of-the-road folks tend to think.

Before I get into what happened with the comments, let me give you a brief rundown of both books and my take on them, because you'll need the context to understand why I was so disturbed:

Warning: Rambling, Spoilers, and Twilight Comparisons Follow )
glitter_n_gore: (Default)

I mentioned this book briefly, in my rant about YA a few posts back. Several things prompted me to read it myself--curiosity, plain and simple; my bizarre liking for books that make me angry; my previously mentioned and still relevant belief that if you're going to scold the teachings of any book, you better read it first to hold your ground in your arguments; and the existence of real life teenagers who flock to dangerous partners against all sense and reason, no matter how hard the people who love them try to talk sense to them. This last one became all too real to me after spending some quality time in the court house, on account of my new job. I won't go detail, but I will say that it made it easier for me to see why some girls might pick up a book like this and, unlike me, be able to see themselves in it.

Read on... )

Some examples of good YA fiction:

Scott Westerfield's Midnighters and Uglies series.
Catherine Jinks's Evil Genius
Koushun Takami's Battle Royale
John Connelly's The Book of Lost Things
Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book

And a couple more I haven't read yet, but boy do they look interesting:
Brenna Yovanoff's The Replacement
Rick Yancey's Monstrumologist

(Cross-posted to [ profile] glitter_n_gore.)


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