Showing posts with label chinese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chinese. Show all posts

Sunday, March 5, 2017

[Review] Soundless - Richelle Mead: Ableism and Cultural Appropriation





In SOUNDLESS, Fei, who grew up in a village of Deaf people who are slowly also losing their eyesight, suddenly is able to hear when her village is in danger.
What intrigued me: I really liked her Vampire Academy series.

How to offend disabled people: the book

You have to be very, very, very, very careful when writing about disability. Especially when you're not disabled yourself. SOUNDLESS is the story of a girl that lives in a village of Deaf people and suddenly starts hearing.  Mistake 1: Don't "cure" disabilities for plot. 

I was hoping for a book that celebrates disability and portrays it as the absolutely normal thing it is - but nah. Disabled people in Mead's fantasy world are the losers of this story because they can't hear unlike special snowflake protagonist Fei who was magically cured. This book certainly would've dearly benefited from a sensitivity reader, anyone with a disability would have whipped out their pitchfork when coming across this book.

SOUNDLESS is proof that you shouldn't write about marginalized people if you have no experience whatsoever with the things they go through and aren't willing to put the research and resources in to make sure that the portrayal accurate.

Who needs world building?

My bitterness aside - I signed up for the typical fantastic Mead writing with a great voice and I got it. The writing truly is exceptional. Mead's storytelling is flawlessly effortless. It's very descriptive, but I personally like this, because it adds to the calm and withdrawn atmosphere of the book. The world building may be easy to understand, but that's because it doesn't exist. Nothing in this book makes sense and we just have to deal with it. 

The signed conversations between Deaf people are a little difficult to read and get used to because there is no indication that's dialogue.

Mead put an equal amount of research into the Chinese folklore part as she put into the disability part. Exactly zilch. The only thing that's sort-of-Asian is the nature surrounding them, their names, and their clothes. Here and here are some reviews by Chinese reviewers who went into more detail on this.

Still, as much as I admire the writing, SOUNDLESS is just an epic fail overall because of how Mead handles disability and the Chinese characters, and a massive disappointment. 


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you have a disability or are very educated and passionate about disability issues, do yourself a favor and don't read this. It will only lead to high blood pressure. SOUNDLESS may be the most ableist book I've ever read, but let's not jinx it.



Additional Info

Published: November 10th 2015
Pages:  266
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9781595147639

Synopsis:
"In a village without sound…

For as long as Fei can remember, no one in her village has been able to hear. Rocky terrain and frequent avalanches make it impossible to leave the village, so Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink. Many go hungry. Fei and all the people she loves are plunged into crisis, with nothing to look forward to but darkness and starvation.

One girl hears a call to action…

Until one night, Fei is awoken by a searing noise. Sound becomes her weapon.

She sets out to uncover what’s happened to her and to fight the dangers threatening her village. A handsome miner with a revolutionary spirit accompanies Fei on her quest, bringing with him new risks and the possibility of romance. They embark on a majestic journey from the peak of their jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiguo, where a startling truth will change their lives forever…

And unlocks a power that will save her people.
 "(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read books about deaf characters?

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

[Review] Noteworthy - Riley Redgate: A Cappella and Crossdressing

In NOTEWORTHY, Jordan struggles with getting accepted in the musical theatre world because she's an Alto 2, and then applies to the male a cappella octet.

What intrigued me: I just heard bisexual. I'm ready.

Quiet and Melancholic

NOTEWORTHY is that kind of quiet bittersweet story that you have to have a sweet spot for. Looking at the cover I was expecting a loud, joke-y book full of puns and fanfares but this is actually quite the opposite. NOTEWORTHY does have its funny moments but at heart this story is very much a coming-of-age contemporary that doesn't sugarcoat anything about growing up.

A lot of the themes are very melancholic in nature, I especially loved reading about Jordan's past relationship and her feelings for her ex-boyfriend. There is so much heart's blood poured into this story that it figuratively drips with authenticity. NOTEWORTHY is one of those books that you have to put down sometimes because it got too real.

I think it's also worth mentioning that this an #ownvoices book about a Chinese girl written by a Chinese author. In general I was very positively surprised by the amount of non-white characters and especially by the depth and care that went into creating them.

A Love Letter to A Cappella

NOTEWORTHY especially impressed me with its nuanced discussion of gender, sexuality, and disability. I certainly didn't expect to find this in this book, but it's absolutely necessary considering that crossdressing is a huge part of the plot, but not necessarily in a trans or drag context. I'm glad that Redgate included a passage about this because this initially worried me when I heard about the book for the first time. Crossdressing is a tricky thing to write about.

I initially picked this up solely for the bisexual representation and was a little disappointed to see that NOTEWORTHY doesn't really discuss Jordan's sexuality a lot.  This is neither a romance nor a story about Jordan and her growing up, in my opinion it's a love letter to a cappella. NOTEWORTHY is set at college and you definitely don't get a break from that while reading this - this is a specific type of book that you need to be prepared for in order not to be caught off guard. While it is very unique, I think NOTEWORTHY absolutely delivers. This is the book for you if you're a singer, if you like a cappella, if you like stories set at college. NOTEWORTHY definitely stands out positively in the world of books about music.

Note: Despite NOTEWORTHY featuring a scene where the protagonist addresses that she's putting on a performance act as a cis person, and explicitly states that this is different to being trans, trans reviewers have pointed out that NOTEWORTHY neither features non-binary/trans characters, nor addresses the trans aspect enough. I don't feel comfortable speaking about this, but do be aware that this is 100% a book about a cis character crossdressing and does not include any trans characters. Here is a twitter thread that describes the issues a little more.





Rating:

★★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

NOTEWORTHY reads like a love letter to a cappella and is a fairly quiet and calm type of Contemporary. Do be aware that it's a book about a cis character crossdressing and does not feature any trans characters.



Additional Info

Published: May 2nd 2017
Pages: 336
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781419723735

Synopsis:
"It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which—in the musical theatre world—is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped ... revered ... all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for."
(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite Contemporary?

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