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?

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