Monday, 22 August 2016

Written in Red (The Others #1) by Anne Bishop


I went into this book with admittedly high expectations: the reviews were great and it's firmly established as one of the best urban fantasy series.
And I have one thing to say for this book: it keeps you reading. I was never bored despite its many flaws, which include:

  • Racist worldbuilding: 

So apparently a long time ago Humans came to be, possessing many of the blessings of nature, including creativity and just being generally great and smart, always furthering society with inventions and progressive views.
But when they built ships and decided to go explore the rest of the world they found out it was already occupied (read inhabited because, amazingly enough, things don't automatically belong to white people - I'm sorry - Humans) by the Others.
The Others are barbaric shifters and an assortment of other supernatural beings who are incapable of inventing things or pretty much learning Human inventions because... I guess the rest of the world is just backwards like that?

Anyway, the book tries to make us feel sorry for the Humans because whenever they reached other parts of the world intent on living there (read: conquering them) they were slaughtered and eaten.
I'm sorry but this to me sounds like a great AU for what happened in the real world.
Imagine all the white people arriving to other continents intent on genocide, rape, and pillaging, and instead of succeeding they ended up killed and eaten. A+++

  • Mary Sue protagonist:

Personally I don't get the appeal of having an emotionally child-like lady protagonist who sees everything with wonder and innocence because of her ~magical blood~, and thus charms the hearts of all the Others - even though most of them eat people for fun and just hate Humans in general.
She arrives with no skills, gets an important job, makes everyone absolutely love her and be obsessed with protecting her for no reason.

  • Abusive love interest:

Sure Simon is an alpha werewolf who hates Humans (whom he, and others, constantly refer to as monkeys) for murdering his sister (and don't you love the old trope of women dying just to provide a tragic backstory for the man?), and is just into eating people in general. 
But, taking into account Meg's abusive past, is the author expecting me to feel anything about Simon other than abject horror?
He constantly threatens to kill her and eat her. his emotions are hyper-volatile, he loses his cool at the drop of a hat and if others are not there to calm him down he seems determined to slaughter Meg. 
Like... is this for real? We're supposed to want them to be a couple? What?

  • Absurd villain: 

There's the main unseen villain who's trying to get Meg back, but the one who really goes around actually thwarting our ~heroes~ is named Asia and is constantly slut shamed. Not to mention the fact that, in the middle of trying to sabotage/kidnap/poison/etc. our protagonist she starts pretending to be a P.I. for a tv show because her dream is to be an actress? So she goes about her life, doing evil, as a villain does, and before she does anything she stops and goes, "What would a fictional character I would play if I were an actress do???"
I mean... wtf.

If you can get past all of this stuff... I don't know... read it, I guess. But it certainly wasn't for me.

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