It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, and it’s been a longer while since I did a TTT post – so today is a happy celebration of my return to both the blogging world and list-making.
My absence was due to an unplanned trip to Vietnam. Although it’s the country of my birth, I haven’t revisited in over a decade as the majority of my family is now based in Aus/NZ. The experience was surprising, challenging, nostalgic, and gave me a million reasons to revisit again soon!
Back to TTT: as most of you know, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week, the topic is Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly NOT Want To Read A Book. I’ll be discussing books I’ve DNF’d, series I’ve abandoned, and books I’ve wholly avoided altogether in today’s post.
You’d think that as an adult with a reading pile of at least 50% pure YA, I would embrace all fiction and realise that genre snobbery is a pretentious lie concocted by old cishet white men too afraid to venture from their comfort zone. Sadly, there are certain corners of the bookstore I rarely venture to, these include:
1. Crime: I really enjoy watching crime on TV or in movies, or even manga, but I could never quite get into it in novel format. My only brushes with the genre is Gone Girl, and a couple of Japanese crime novels. Perhaps I am just missing the great ones, but the Crime section with its uniformity in both covers (dark shades, silhouettes, giant author name) and title (always inevitably referencing an unnamed ‘Girl’) currently holds no appeal to me.2. Paranormal: I used to read quite a few of these in my university days (I am too afraid to count how many years it’s been since those days), and I’ve suffered from one too many series fatigue to rediscover this particular sub-genre. It seems to be inundated with countless series with no end in sight. I have troubles keeping up with trilogies, let alone a series that has 10+ books — I had to say goodbye to October Daye and Harry Dresden from sheer exhaustion.
Highly Problematic Content
To me, people becoming more socially aware and critical of the entertainment they consume is a fantastic thing. Most of all, I love the dialogue that comes out of it – it demands the publishing industry to improve and become more inclusive. It also saves me time and money that I will happily direct towards my unending wishlist.
3. Carve The Mark: In truth, I was never going to read this book anyway, because I was not a fan of Divergent. Subsequent discussions regarding the book’s thoughtless portrayal of race, chronic pain, and self-harm crossed it off my list altogether. I cringe a little whenever I see it on bestseller shelves worldwide.
4. The Black Witch: Again, I did not have any real interest in this book because the synopsis did not grab me. Reading Shauna’s detailed review has me convinced I should not only avoid the book, but try and make others aware of how harmful the content contained within is. The Black Witch was meant to contain anti-racism theme, but it fell into its own trap by catering for the privileged rather than the oppressed.
It’s 2017, we really don’t need anymore books that proclaims ‘racism is bad’ – we know this. What we need is books which dismantles stereotype and harmful portrayals, not reinforce them. We need books that challenges, rather than offer soft-ball lessons from one privileged’s individual’s journey. Forget about these book, if you want a YA SFF that talks about race, go and read Empress of A Thousand Skies instead.
For this section, I don’t have any legitimate reasons as to why I’ve avoided these books. I’m just being petty.
5. My Ship Sunk: My shipping sensors are actually fairly keen, so I’ve largely avoided this unsavoury situation – but I will never forgive Sara Raasch for what she did to my OTP in Ice Like Fire. I still refuse to touch Frost Like Night because I know my shipper’s heart will not survive it.
6. Epistolary Format: Non-traditional novel format such as Illuminae or Sleeping Giants is a bit of a hit-and-miss for me. I have to be in the right mood to read it – as I find it harder to empathise and connect with the characters if I see them through interviews and video transcripts. Although I have heard amazing things from bloggers I trust about Sleeping Giants, I DNF’d the book the first time I read it because of interview transcript overload. I hope to pick it up again at some point, though – because it does sound promising and I adore the covers.
7. Bad Covers: I know judging a book by its cover is a cardinal sin as far as bloggers are concerned, but I can’t help it – blame it on Instagram, and blame it on how strong the cover game has been in recent releases. There’s no excuses for a bad cover, not in an age where even self-published books are looking gorgeous (see the Air Awakens series!). The main victim of this is the NA genre, I know there are some gems in NA – but the covers of half naked men just does not work for me.
8. A Goodreads Rating Below 3: I am hopelessly dependent on the GR rating to do speed purchasing decision — most YA and SFF books average around 3.5-4, and the rating average tends to lower for adult literary fiction. If your book has below a 3 (given a reasonable number of ratings and reviews), chances are I won’t touch it. Hence, I always tend to over rather than underestimate my star rating on GR, since I know how much a low score can hurt a book’s sale.
Being a consumer of media means you’ll be exposed to a spectrum of tropes with every new story – I don’t mind tropes in general, there are some that I even love, they feel as familiar as a well-worn blanket. However, here are a few that will have me closing the book and moving on at full speed.
9. I’m Not Like Other Girl: This is basically just code for a brand of ‘feminism’ that appeals to the patriarchy and brings down other women. I am 100% not here for it, if the only way your heroine can shine is through being pitted against other ladies in the book – I will 100% DNF.
10. Unnecessary Love Triangles: I have nothing against a good love triangle, I grew up on K-drama and Japanese Shoujo after all – and love triangles are pretty much the bread-and-butter of those media. However, as soon as I can sense that there’s no chemistry between the characters – and the triangle is there to fulfil some sort of YA/romance checklist, I check out mentally.
What are your ultimate red-flags for books? I would love to see your TTT for this week, so feel free to link it in the comments below ❤