Today I guest posted at Creativity’s Corner in her “Wanted” feature! Head on over to see what I want to read about and make suggestions!
Category Archives: Uncategorized
(Covers Linked to Reviews)
- Writing Rambles: Description
- Tolkien Reading Day: Reflections on Tolkien
- Author Interview: Rachel Fisher (Eden’s Root trilogy)
- If you Like Pirates, Then Read….
Translated by William Flanagan
Goodreads: Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, Vol. 1
Official Summary: Usagi Tsukino is a normal girl until she meets up with Luna, a talking cat, who tells her that she is Sailor Moon. As Sailor Moon, Usagi must fight evil and enforce justice, in the name of the Moon and the mysterious Moon Princess. She meets other girls destined to be Sailor Senshi (Sailor Scouts), and together, they fight the forces of evil!
Note: I have seen the Sailor Moon anime, but this is the first time I have read the manga, or really any manga for that matter.
Takeuchi fills her book with beautiful illustrations that are truly half the pleasure of reading. Her work is detailed, elegant, and expressive—absolutely captivating. Looking closely always reveals something new in her drawings.
Plot-wise, the book falls only a little bit shorter in execution. Events happen very quickly from episode to episode, so it can feel as if there is a lack of characterization; readers only just meet one new character before another is introduced, and suddenly they are all one chummy group. Some of the episodes are also repetitive, following a plotline in which the enemy tries to take over the world and the Sailor Scouts show up to defeat them. However, the pace does keep reading exciting, and it is hard to stop after just one episode, particularly with some of the cliffhangers. Exciting moments are offset skillfully with some hilarious ones that make readers laugh out loud and some very cute romantic ones that will make them daydream.
The translation can be slightly silly, but only occasionally. It is by no means a hindrance to understanding or enjoying the story. At the end there are some useful notes to help English readers understand some of the Japanese cultural practices and references in the book, including places, religion, word meanings, etc.
This is an incredibly enjoyable and imaginative story that is making me nostalgic about the anime. I will definitely continue to read!
Published: 1992 (2011 renewal edition)
From April 1-April 7 Parajunkie and The Bookish Brunette will be hosting a Book Blogger Twitter Conference, including panels, giveaways, and awards. You can find more information here. Pages Unbound is very grateful to have been nominated in the Best Group Blog category for the #BBTC Awards, and we would love if any of our followers would vote for us. You can do so here. Voting ends March 7. Thanks!
If You Like, Then Read is a feature where we offer reading suggestions based on books you already like, scheduled once a month. If you have more suggestions, feel free to tell us in the comments! You can check out the rest of these lists here.
Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Princess Cimorene longs to fence and learn magic, but instead must learn more traditionally feminine activities such as needlepoint and dancing. Frustrated, she runs away only to have the dragon Kazul capture her. Cimorene defies stereotyped roles once again by befriending her dragon and refusing to let a prince rescue her. The first in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles.
Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
When financial difficulty strikes, Creel’s aunt decides to sacrifice the girl to the local dragon in the hopes that a rich knight will rescue and marry her. Creel has dreams of her own, however, and promptly sets off for the city bearing only a few items, including a special pair of dragonskin slippers. Creel hopes that one day she will be able to open a dress shop of her own, but the fate of a kingdom rests in her hands–or rather, on her feet. The first of the Dragon Slippers Books.
The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
When the deadly Gray Death strikes her sister Meryl, timid Addie must venture forth to find a cure. With only a pair of seven-league boots and a magic spyglass to help her, Addie encounters spectres, spiders, and even a dragon. Her journey teaches her courage, but may not enable her to save her sister.
Here, There Be Dragons by James A. Owen
The murder of a professor launches John, Jack, and Charles into an adventure that will change their lives. Travelling through the Archipelago, a magical world that contains the people and places that have inspired generations of authors, the three will have to face a fearsome enemy if they want to save not only the Archipelago but also their own world. The first in the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Forty years ago, a treaty brought peace between humans and dragons and, ever since, the dragons have served at court as professors and scholars. As the anniversary of the treaty nears, however, Seraphina, a musician newly arrived at court, finds herself investigating the murder in the royal family–a murder seemingly perpetrated by dragons.
The Children of Hurin by J. R. R. Tolkien, Ed. by Christopher Tolkien
In the First Age of Middle-earth, Húrin Thalion, lord of Dor-lómin, dared to challenge the sovereignty of the Dark Lord Morgoth. Morgoth promised in return that his hate would follow the children of Húrin all their lives, bringing them ruin and despair. Túrin, son of Húrin, sought to outrun his doom, but found he carried it in himself.
Writing Rambles is a feature at Pages Unbound where we discuss what makes good writing in general, rather than focusing on the writing of a specific book.
If one enters into enough book discussions or reads enough book reviews, it becomes apparent that criticizing protagonists—particularly YA protagonists—for not having the “right” personality type is common. These criticisms can range from simple complaints that the character is annoying or unlikeable to passionate arguments for why the character is a terrible example for readers everywhere, and that the book featuring such a disgrace should have never been published.
Readers certainly have a right to hold and to voice such opinions. I, too, have protested characters I thought were bad role models (or have objected to some of their actions, if not to the character as a whole). I, like most readers, air these grievances because I believe that the books we give young people—or any people—matter. Books can change lives and save lives. They can shape readers’ philosophies and characters, often lastingly. Books are both beautiful and dangerous things.
Nonetheless, I think bad characters, characters who make bad decisions, and characters with “weak” personalities are important for readers to experience.
Do Authors Have a Duty?
When considering whether certain characters, character actions, or whole books should be condemned, one of the first questions that naturally arises is whether authors even have a duty to write good characters, or ones who in some way move from making the wrong decisions to the right ones.
Such a question requires moral considerations—and it will be difficult for readers to come to a consensus. Whether there exists an absolute morality in the first place, and then what that morality asks us to do, have been long debated. There is not really space to address the topics here. So, maybe it turns out that authors are free to write whatever types of characters they wish and owe the populace nothing in terms of morals or good examples. Yet, I think there is generally some form of natural agreement between readers and writers that this is not so.
Writers tend to be readers. As such, they understand the powers that books hold. They understand that books influence thoughts and lives. And I think most do not take that power lightly. Most, particularly those interested in writing for a young audience, probably have some intention of writing stories that will be an influence for good—not didactic stories, but ones that help readers live just a little better, whether it be through demonstrating that they are not alone, showing them ways to handle difficult situations, or even just giving them a story that is beautiful and proves art is wonderful and there are good things in the world.
Ideas of Role Models Are Different
The problem is: readers, writers, and people all have different ideas of what is “right.”
Currently, one of the most maligned character types is the female who is too passive, or just not as kick-ass as Katniss, Katsa, or Celaena. This, in the end, is simply a preference. Although some readers have argued that more passive characters actually are bad examples for teen girls because they do not teach them proper independence and how to break out of what they view as outdated gender roles, it is hard to take this 100% seriously. More likely, many people just find intense characters more interesting. Yet these readers should understand that other readers might find those characters off-putting and overly aggressive and enjoy reading about other protagonists.
Still, there are often more serious issues at stake in YA literature. Prominent ones include romantic relationships and the portrayal of sex and drugs. Even here, however, there is room for debate. Opinions on these matters vary in real people as much as they do in characters. An author who portrays teenagers having frequent casual sex is as likely to believe she is providing good role models as one whose characters are waiting for marriage.
The Need for “Bad” Characters and Bad Decisions
First, YA (and every book group or genre) needs a variety of characters just to remain interesting. No one actually wants to read hundreds of books about the same personality. Although it sounds odd to state that a sarcastic, kickass heroine could be boring—she could, if she were the only character one ever had the pleasure to meet.
Second, different character types appeal to different reader types. Readers who find characters with low self-esteem annoying, for example, have probably always been fortunate enough always to know confidence. Yet they should understand that other readers do have low self-esteem and that they can relate to and benefit from reading a story about someone like them. Reading about a shy character, an abused character, a generally passive character who ultimately achieves good things can help readers like those characters learn how to live their own lives more fully.
Intent Is Different From Representation
Nonetheless, readers are entitled—and I believe should be encouraged—to judge characters, character actions, and even books by their own personal morals. If one believes books can teach readers how to live, it does not only make sense, but is also incredibly important, to read and recommend books one thinks provide the best examples and messages.
It is worth noting, however, that there is a difference between representing a character with flaws and approving of those flaws. A “good” story might have a character overcome a bad personality trait or learn from his or her poor decisions—but it does not have to. A reader’s objection to a book, therefore, should not be that characters do stupid, unlikeable, or immoral things, but that something about the book suggests that these things are actually good ideas.
Unfortunately, an author’s “intentions” are always a gray area. Yet there are times where the “message” is often another subliminal state of understanding between reader and writer. This is one of the primary reasons many readers object to books like Twilight, which many have argued portrays an abusive romantic relationship. It is not merely that such a relationship exists in the book, or the fact that Bella does not come to her senses and deliver a monologue to her teen fans about the dangers of such relationships. The problem is that something about the tone of the book glorifies the relationship and presents it as desirable. Of course Meyers never inserts an authorial voice and says, “This is the type of boyfriend you should look for.” She does, however, present Edward as the perfect boyfriend. She is obviously expecting readers to swoon and not to write lengthy blog posts examining his controlling behavior.
It is the glorification or approval of bad characters or decisions that should be the greater basis for character condemnation, not the mere fact that a character makes poor life choices.
Readers have a wide variety of tastes, personalities, and moral compasses. This fact alone can explain why there is—and needs to be—a variety of characters and character life styles in young adult literature. Most would agree, however, that it is important for authors and publishers to provide a young audience with books that inspire their readers to become better people even as they tell a fantastic story. Readers have the right, and arguably a responsibility, to support books they think send positive messages and to condemn ones they believe send poor ones. Nonetheless, I think it makes more sense to condemn those books that seem to be actively promoting or encouraging bad behaviors rather than ones that simply include characters who make decisions with which a reader personally disagrees.
This February, Pages Unbound will be hosting a month-long read-along of the works of C. S. Lewis. Any of his writing is eligible for the read-along, including The Chronicles of Narnia, the Space Trilogy, his Christian works, his literary criticism, his letters, etc. You may also post movie reviews, reflections, or any other posts relating to Lewis and his work. Check out our past events.
Ways to Participate
- If you would like, grab the button and add it to your blog.
- Read any book(s) by C. S. Lewis, either now or in February.
- Post a review of the book on your own blog anytime during February. Let us know about it, and we will add it to a master list post of all the read-along posts and reviews. (We think this will make it easier to find other bloggers’ posts than using Mr. Linky).
- If you don’t have a blog and would like to participate, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post your reviews as guest posts.
- If you would like to be in charge of hosting a mini-challenge, a giveaway, discussion questions, or anything else you can think of on your own blog during the event, pick a date in February and email us at email@example.com.
At Pages Unbound
- Guest Posts.
- The Master List.
- Other activities to be determined.
Our Previous C. S. Lewis Reviews
(Covers linked to reviews)
Events and Features
- Writing Rambles:Writing Fantasy Dialogue
- Top Ten of 2012 Event
- Top Ten Tips for Getting an Editorial Internship
Coming in February
Details will be posted tomorrow, Jan. 1.