21 August 2017

The Hate U Give // It’s A Must Read For Everyone

The Hate U Give
Published: 6th April 2017
Source: Bought
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
My Rating:
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.
A book about fighting for what's right has never felt more apt than right now. I mean, the past few weeks has once more demonstrated that racial equality has not been achieved and it has never been more obvious than in the US. I would go into my rant about the racism demonstrated by the white supremacist nazis who were protesting but I don’t want to work myself up to rage about it. I don’t need to when this book will help fire up that feeling of outrage.

This book has been raved about and hyped up and I was so wary about picking it up and being disappointed so it is safe to say I am thrilled it met all expectations and firmly placed itself as a must read for YA lovers (and book lovers in general). It’s an eye-opening read that will hit you in the feels and it’s certainly one I believe everyone should be reading. I should have read it far sooner but it’s sad to see even after the Black Lives Matter movement has been alive and well for a while it’s a book we still need today as there are still people out there who hold racist beliefs and whose voices are still being heard and not talked down enough.

I wasn’t sure how to talk about this book. I’ve tried three times to write a review which fully captures why this book is important and how it packed such a punch and I’ve been failing epically. At first I thought about writing five reasons why you should read, but there are far too many good reasons to read than that. Then I tried to write my normal review and couldn’t find the write words to explain why this book is good. I kept getting drawn off into tangents and I began talking politics and it all went wrong then. And so I’ve been sat staring as screen with about three different takes on this book all in one post. I’m going to try and be concise. Wish me luck.

This book was eye opening for me. I was aware of the struggles which were on going in America (and around the world, race is not an exclusively US struggle) and I knew about the Black Lives Matter movement. I was even aware that racial profiling was done by the police. I know the statistics for the number of black lives taken by the police last year and I know that more black people are killed by the police than in terror attacks. I know the statistics but actually reading a book where this happens is very different.

Angie Thomas speaks from a place of knowledge in this book. As her acknowledgements say, she grew up in an area very similar to Starr and had similar troubles reconciling herself at home and that at school as she had two very different personas. She knows the struggle of getting out of a poor neighbourhood and making her way in the world and you can see her experiences shining through on the page. You heard it in the way that Starr is viewed by those in her neighbourhood as seeing herself above them as she doesn’t hang out with them as much now she’s at a private school. You see it how she modulates her own self to fit better with her rich, white friends at her private school. There are certain phrases and speech patterns she won’t use so she doesn’t come across as an angry black girl. She is viewed as inherently cool by her white friends simply because she is black she must know what is cool whilst with her black friends at home she isn’t cool. She hangs back. The perception of her in both places is very different. I wouldn’t have even thought about it but it’s something which people do to fit. I know it’s now the same but we all alter ourselves from at home to how we act in a professional environment, like work. We alter ourselves slightly to better fit in. Starr has to do that in everyday life. Seeing her reconcile her two selves into one through the book was interesting. Especially as it was triggered by her witnessing the police shooting a friend and it being a spoken about topic both at home and at school meant her two worlds collided when she had managed to keep them very separate before that.

The skill at which Thomas shines a light on everyday things you don’t even notice was amazing as well. For me, getting pulled over by the police would be nerve-wracking (it’s the police, it’s always a daunting experience) but only in the way you mentally catalogue anything you’ve done wrong and try reassure yourself you’re not guilty. Not because you fear how the police will react to you and whether or not you have to fear the police themselves. Not because you fear they will look at the colour of your skin and you will be at risk. The fact that this is a normal occurrence for many a person and they have a reason to fear not because they’ve done something wrong but simply because the colour of their skin is shocking. It was not comfortable to acknowledge that although we like to believe we are beyond such thing racism is still obvious in the everyday and people get treated differently due to the colour of their skin. That has been very obvious in recent weeks seeing white folks gathering with firearms in a public place and there has been no rollout of the army whilst when black people protested for the killing of someone from their community there have been curfews and a large police presence.

It is not always comfortable seeing Starr’s friends and the way which they act and some of the comments said. I wasn’t always a fan of Starr’s boyfriend, especially with some of the comments he made… but he was good at demonstrating incorrect beliefs and when being taught why they are incorrect. Like the comments about black names being weird and then Starr and her friends demonstrating that in fact white names are weird (different cultures people!) and white people insistence that they split up (fatal horror film choice you should never make and it made me laugh when this then happened in a book I was reading, guess what everyone ended up captured!). Those lighter moments which highlighted comments which are racist but made fun of them were great because those are the comments people are likely to make. That fun interaction of learning about different cultures was good and it was fun and it meant this book never came across like it was preaching at you.

This is just a brilliant book. It’s brilliantly written and it’s smart. It talks about relevant issues in the world and thus should be read by everyone. For me it gave a different perspective and it taught me knew things. It led me to question my immediate response to events like a police shooting and reminded me that there are people involved and now be too quick to believe everything being said on the news. It will make you laugh and make you cry and make you care about all these characters and want to keep them safe. You will rage at the injustices seen and cheer on the small moments of success. When a character learns they’re being racist and stops you will want to let out a small cheer. And when someone is being an idiot you will want to smack them upside the head for being dumb. It’s chock full of all that good stuff I like in a book and I will be trying to force everyone I know to give this a read.

Have you read The Hate U Give? What did you think?

20 August 2017

Sunday Summary // 20.08.2017

Sunday Summary
This week has been a good week. You may be shocked to hear that as I so often complain or grumble or despair at how tired I feel. I am tired and I did have some long days but I am feeling positive at the end of this week which means I deem it a success.

Work has been work. I mean, it’s had its usual ups and downs, you know? It has been a good week and I left work feeling happy on Friday. It may be me trying to be positive because I know next week will be hell as my supervisor has the week off so guess who is the most experienced member of my team that week? Yep, lucky me, all the questions and responsibility and none of the pay benefits. It’s only for a week, at least, and I’ll have a few days off as well after that.

We’ve had builders in at home this week so our house looks surprisingly dusty and it’s a little weird. My parents are moving the living room downstairs so we’ve had new doors put in that lead out to the garden and a wall has been knocked out. Lots or plastering has been done and hopefully, we’ll get new flooring next week. It’s quite exciting but yeah, lots of dusting needs to be done. I am not looking forward to the cleanup job. I am looking forward to a living room leading on to a garden. It’ll be great for when everyone is home and we’re doing things.

I intended to get lots done this weekend. I intended to do lots of reading and blogging and generally be crazy productive but instead, I binge watched Marvel’s The Defenders because that’s how I roll. I never managed to finish Iron Fist but this Marvel series definitely redeemed things a bit. The storyline was good and the 8 episodes meant I didn’t feel too guilty about finishing it all in a day. I am in love with the dynamic between Matt and Jessica in it. They are opposites but they are fun together. Definitely, hope to see more of them in future series.

What I’ve Been Reading

Leviathan WakesRituals
Well, I intended to read a lot more than I did. I restarted Leviathan Wakes because I borrowed it from my brother and he raved about this series. I’m enjoying it but it’s a slow read for me. I think the length is putting me off but it definitely fits in with the side quest as ‘Grind’ as it has been a bit of a grind to read so far. In a good way. I also got my copy of Rituals this week and I was so damn excited to get reading. It definitely met expectations but the more I think on it the more I get frustrated that there wasn’t more. It wasn’t anywhere close to being a disappointment but I definitely wanted more, I think that’s my issue with it. I’ve got about a dozen reviews I want to write and this is one of them.

New To Me

SteadfastIrresistible YouThe Fifth SeasonRituals
You know that spending ban I spoke about? I didn’t exactly succeed. I mean, it began with my preorder of Rituals arriving (I do not regret that one) and then a couple of romances (because I am a sucker for having all the romance lurking on my Kindle) they were both going cheap and one click is just too easy sometimes. And finally, The Fifth Season, I saw it for £2 at The Works and a girl just can’t say no to a book at that price, especially when it’s one I’ve been wanting to read for a while. I know I shouldn’t have bought these books but #noregrets!

#TheReadingQuest Progress

I’ve read one and a half books for this quest (Leviathan Wakes & Rituals). I’ve boosted my EXP and HP, though. If the spreadsheet I’m using to track my progress is to be believed anyway. I had delusions of progressing through more than one of the quest paths. I would be shocked if I managed that to be honest.

How has your week been? Anyone else participating in #TheReadingQuest? What books you been reading lately?

18 August 2017

My Thoughts // Do Some Storylines Only Work In Certain Genres?

My Thoughts_zpsv3m9csox.png
Captive Prince8 Prince's Gambit9 Kings RisingBlackbird
I had been intending to review the Captive Prince trilogy for a very long while but found it difficult to summarise my thoughts on it. I’ve still got a half finished review of it in my drafts folder. Give it a year and those reviews may see the light of day. I found a lot of the story amazing and blazed through that series in a couple of days (I seriously could not put those books down). I will be placing them firmly in my favourites and even though I paid far more than is reasonable to get copies of the second two books in the series (the first I got from the library) I am completely glad I bought and read them and will undoubtedly read again sometime soon.

I recognise there were issues with the book, though, and my biggest one, outside of the ending, is the fact that the romance is a captor/captive romance and there is such a power imbalance happening in it. Power imbalances in romances have to be dealt with carefully because as soon as one person could be accused of using their position of power to force them on to another then it gets iffy. Add in the fact that one character is held captive and it then could be interpreted as Stockholm syndrome and that’s even worse because it adds a creepy element into the whole thing.

When reading the Captive Prince trilogy I was totally behind the romance because it’s so very slow burn and developed through three books. It doesn’t feel like Stockholm syndrome but instead that the characters are letting down their guard, getting to know one another and falling in love. All of it went together so well and I was there for it 100%. I came to read a contemporary book which had a similar premise of a man buying a woman and possessing her and the romance which developed between the two. That book was Blackbird and I had a very different reaction to it. I was immediately bothered that language was used of someone ‘possessing’ or ‘owning’ another. And really as soon as money was exchanged all I could think was that human trafficking was bad and I so was not there for the romance. I mean, it just screamed Stockholm syndrome. It took me a really long time to let the romance grow on me and although I liked the characters together I would have liked them far better if there hadn’t been that power imbalance. I mean, she didn’t even see other people for ages and was never allowed out alone. She really saw no one but him so there was no doubt she would fall for him as she had no human comparison. All of it made me feel a bit blech.

Why is it I felt so different to a similar storyline in a contemporary read and a fantasy one?

That’s easy, the fantasy read was removed from reality. It was set in a different world where the possession of people and use as slaves was accepted and it wasn’t real. It may have helped that both characters were men so physically there wasn’t the same power difference. In fact, the slave was the stronger of the two based on sheer physicality and brute strength. Whilst in the contemporary setting a woman was taken off of the streets, from her job, and forced into human trafficking only to be purchased by a man and forced to accept him. To feel comfortable around him by proving she is ok with him seeing her naked. And repeatedly she is forced into situations where she could potentially be raped and the man who bought her proves he could have her if he wanted. In that situation I felt disgusted and didn’t like any romance developing.

I am of course basing these opinions off of what I remember of both books and it has been a little while since I read each but I found a captive romance only works when it’s taken outside of reality. In the modern day you immediately jump to the conclusion there is a psychological bond forming between captor and captive that would never develop otherwise. It feels forced and it’s wrong. In a fantasy context you can overlook these things a little. Or at least I could. The same issues exist but I think my biggest issue was the possession of another human. When this happens in a society where slavery is accepted you can get it but in the modern world slavery and the possession of people is not the norm and so my dilemma began.

So, as you can see. Two very similar storylines but as soon as you alter the setting it gets interpreted in my mind in a very different way. Does anyone else have moments like this where they find themselves disliking a storyline they loved in another book all because of the genre it’s written in?

Does anyone else have a similar reaction or is this just me? Does context matter for certain storylines to work?