February 7: Top Ten Books I Wish Had (More/Less) X In Them (the original idea came from Andi who suggested top ten books I wish had more kissing which I thought could be fun but also realize it might not be everyone’s thing! Could also be top ten books I wish had more diversity in them or top ten books I wish had less violence in them or less romance focus in them or top ten books I wish had more dragons in them. IDK! Have some fun with this one!)
Sorry for the very vague title! I couldn’t choose just one topic to focus on, so this post will be divided in two parts:
- books I wish had less romance in them;
- books I wish had more diversity / less problematic representation in them.
Because those are two things I’m very critical of while reading. When a straight romance is too prominent, it can easily ruin the entire book for me.
Because it is my goal to read more diverse books, I also have to point out when it isn’t done right. Some of my favourite books feature no or harmful representation. And there is no shame in admitting your favourites are problematic: you can still love something and be critical of it at the same time. However, I think there is also a distinction that should be made here: some books feature problematic lines and if the author hadn’t written that sentence, the book would’ve been better. And then there are those books who are build on racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. And as much editing as you’d like to do, it will always remain problematic. Both are harmful and we should not make light of that. But when I say my favourites are problematic, I hope they don’t belong to the second category.
Anyway, let’s get started! As usual, these are in no particular order. and as usual, it is hard to limit this to merely ten books 😀 By the way: not all of the books I am going to mention are bad! Some of them are actually my favourites! But even though I like them, I can still be critical of it at the same time.
Books I wish had less romance in them
1. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
I was completely loving Three Dark Crowns, up until the point multiple relationships started to become more important. Especially because everything went so fast. One chapter, two characters meet, the next, they’re kissing and saving each other’s lives.
Furthermore, I absolutely love that this book features multiple strong female friendships. At the same time though, I wish the author had included some F/F romances as well. I just find it very heteronormative that all characters are straight. Some of them even fell in love when they were merely eleven years old!
2. The Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes
There are multiple reasons why I didn’t continue this series. But one of my main reasons has to be the romance. Everyone was attracted to everyone. There are certain relationships you know are going to happen because it they are typical for every YA fantasy, yet the author kept dragging them out. I wanted a bad-ass fantasy universe. Instead I got lovesick teenagers.
3. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
At first, I praised the books for the female friendships. We don’t see that enough and I loved it. But as the story went on, the other female characters ‘disappeared’: Cinder only had interactions with Kai anymore. I did like the pairing at first, but the prince really started to make me angry: he couldn’t take no for an answer! No means no. It doesn’t matter that Cinder was lying about the reasons why she said ‘no’, he should have accepted her answer either way.
Everyone seems to love this series and I really want to continue it (because I’m an idiot and already bought all the books in the series), but I’m afraid this is mostly praised because of the romance, whereas that is something I’m often not a fan of in books.
4. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Once again, there are multiple reasons why I won’t continue the Red Queen series. Even though I read this back in 2015, when I had just started reading regularly, I could already tell that this book wasn’t the most original one. Most Young Adult series have love triangles, but this one even has a love square! And I wasn’t exactly a fan of any of the pairings.
5. The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Oh boy, apparently, I don’t finish a lot of series! Because I won’t continue with this one either. Once again, for various reasons. Adelina, the main character, seemed sexually frustrated! Whenever a boy touched her, she got a tingle or a warm feeling. I cringed at those scenes, it was ridiculous.
books I wish had more diversity / less problematic representation in them
All of the books I am going to mention below, are some of my favourites! Like I have said though, I can still be critical of it. When people point out these books include problematic representation or none at all, I listen. Don’t get personally offended. You can still like them! Just admit they aren’t perfect, that’s all.
1. The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Cycle is one of my favourite series. A lot of the people who I follow on Twitter, do not feel the same way. And that’s fine. I’m still going to re-read this over and over again. At the same time though, I can admit that this series and Maggie Stiefvater in particular aren’t perfect. The Raven King features harmful Asian representation, as you can read here.
The LGBTQ representation isn’t the best either. I absolutely love that the characters’ sexual orientations aren’t a big deal (I prefer that to books which revolve around it), but I wish Stiefvater had included the word ‘bisexual’. It’s as if writers (also of TV shows and films) are afraid to use that word!
Furthermore, this series is often recommended by straight cis girls who do not care at all about the rest of the LGBTQ community. Fetishising M/M romances is not okay! If you are disgusted by F/F relationships but love reading about M/M ones, you are a part of the problem.
2. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Everytime I dare mention the lack of diversity in the Harry Potter series, it causes a shit-storm. If you disagree with me, there’s no need to let me know. I won’t change my opinion. I’ve done a lot of research on this topic and I listen to the critique it has received from people of colour, gay men and other people who are poorly -or not at all – represented in this series.
Normally, I try to explain why I say this about Rowling and my favourite series, but I feel as if many people don’t even bother reading what I have to say. For those of you who are interested though, there are plenty of articles that provide more information, such as this one.
3. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I absolutely love The Song of Achilles and didn’t release it was problematic up until a few weeks ago. So I apologize if I recommended this book to you and it hurt you. I really do. So what I am about to say next is a huge spoiler for the book, but if you are familiar with the Iliad, you already know what is going to happen in The Song of Achilles. This book features the ‘bury your gays’ trope. Too often, gay characters (but also other LGBTQ characters) don’t get happy endings, but get killed off instead. And that could hurt people.
4. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
I won’t even get started on Game of Thrones, the TV show adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire. That show is high-key problematic. I still love it though, but damn. Anyway, A Song of Ice and Fire features multiple bisexual characters, but it’s something many people don’t realise, which might mean that the representation is barely there. Either way, as far as I can remember, there are barely any characters of colour.
5. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
I’m talking mostly about the TV series here, since I’ve only read 100 pages of Outlander. But I don’t remember ever seeing a person of colour in that show! And the only queer characters are the villain. It’s been a couple of months though so I might be wrong, but if you forget about the representation, that isn’t a great sign either.
Well, this was a controversial topic. Please don’t be personally offended and please don’t try to fight me on this. Even if you didn’t find something problematic, doesn’t mean no one else is allowed to be hurt by it. (scheduled on 30 January 2017)