The Week in Womble aka I can't believe it's not YA
Hellooo! A peaceful week in the wombleverse – caught up with a friend for the first time in ages; got home several times at my actual end of shift and have been to the beach and ate ice creams. This ensures that having an occasional day off does help. I have another next Friday and then just four weeks to my first non-con holiday since January 2018!
“I do not think it means what you think it means”
I was really annoyed this week to see a reviewer’s hot take on a science fiction novel I’ve recently reviewed here (reading other reviews is always usually informative – even when they differ on your take). A lot of the takes on the novel where fine but then I saw the reviewer decide that as the cast were young and outrageously laughed and had fun at points in the novel this indicated a YA outlook. Now I’ve read that novel that talked about the concepts of empire, colonialism and revolution and it is many things but YA it was not.
I’ve seen this a few times now in forums and reviews that were characters act contrary to grim and broody then this clearly an author pandering to the YA market. Amazingly I’ve seen several tie it to books such as The Poppy War which is as grim as it gets. Firstly, YA is not a downgrade - a lot of YA is sophisticated, deep and able to make teenagers look away from their phones. Its been an important shot in the arm for books but you can’t confuse a type of character and mood for YA – that’s like saying all crime books are like Agatha Christie as they have a dead body.
Secondly a lot of elements that these readers are defining as YA are actually much older elements of fantasy. Young characters have been in books since forever -be they those daft singing hobbits or various assorted young heroes plucked from the villages. Love triangles abound look at the court of King Arthur; characters in schools up are a staple of the genre you never see people throw YA at Rothfuss, Lynch or Lawrence…weird that.
That people perhaps find these human interludes intruding in modern fantasy or science fiction is puzzling me. Adults have fun too – you sometimes need the joy to make the bad times look worse or even recover (but never the singing…never). Constant dourness is a bit too one note. For me YA is mainly about how it currently feels to be an adult to help you realise what you’re going through to prove to you that you are not alone. In more adult fantasy its more a reminder of where you’ve been and the moments that made you become an adult and possibly what you’re lying to yourself about too. Next time you see this in a review please consider exactly what makes that item YA…it may tell you more that the reviewer needs to lighten up and get off the brooding plinth.
What I’m watching
Godzilla King of Monsters – large monster battles how could I refuse? There was a lot I liked about this movie. Unlike the latest Godzilla this didn’t throw its punches and we do get to see some impressive creatures’ battles. There is a definitely a love of the monster movies that comes across in these versions of the classics. It also has an interesting set of villains which I was not expecting and some great character performances from Zhang Ziyi, Vera Farmiga, Bradley Whitford and the peerless Ken Watanabe – who all seem to be enjoying themselves and yet giving it a good effort. What annoyingly happened again was that the film focus was that the ‘lead role’ in the form of Kyle Chandler’s Mark Russell seems to be the lead without doing very much heroic himself and two other characters end up sacrificing themselves for someone who I would have to say is a bit low key in terms of actual character. His scenes really took the joy out of the film and it could have been much more fun to see Ken Watanabe in his role. A lot to love on the monsters’ side again but the humans really do annoy!!
Farscape continues as does Blake’s 7 and sadly the two will never cross paths in hyperspace….
Still to come Chernobyl and finally try Killing Eve
What I’m - Listening to
Caught up on ‘You’re Never Going to Read This’ so I think next is a trip back to horror stories…
What I’ve Reviewed
What I’m reading
And I’m back to fantasy…
The Bone Shaker by Edward Cox - A big fan of Cox’s The Relic Guild trilogy that I thought added a tough of anime and gaming to a fantasy universe plus a neat idea in two parallel stories set thirty years apart all the way through where past influences the future. In this novella he goes for a more classic fantasy but even then manages to give it a 21st century feel with an almost all female cast and a nice amoral assassin you should keep an eye on at all times (as they are part cat).
Gather The Fortunes by Bryan Camp - yes I’m reading these books in the wrong order but this was a book that did a delightful job of blindsiding me on my expectations and the wider mythology is rather well done. A pleasant surprise of a book and one I think worth looking out for.
This week all the SF and a lot of space opera in the review cycle and I will be hurrying up in th last week of June (thank goodness for that three-day weekend to come)
The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t With Her Mind by Jackson Ford – review imminent. A very fun and technically cleverly told thriller about a young telekinetic in LA being framed for murder. Review likely out Monday but spoilers – you’ll like this one.
The Record Keeper by Agnes Gomillion – Join me on the 26th for a blog tour where I talk about this thoughtful piece of SF about freedom and revolution.
Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky – the sequel to one of the best SF novels and I don’t even mind the spiders!
Rosewater Insurrection by Tade Thompson - a belated catch up on this novel of aliens in Nigeria
Velocity Weapon by Megan E O’Keefe – VERY much looking enjoying another bit of space opera that all the bloggers are saying is one of the best out this year