Monday, June 22, 2015

Writerly Things: Shadows Dancing

Remember when I said I'd post a lot more often? Yeah. That obviously didn't work out as well as planned (or at all), so I will be putting a whole lot more effort into this, since I don't have any actual excuses. 

So, anyways, I decided to make a post every little while to talk about a project of mine. There will probably be repeats-- I'm prone to those-- but it's just a space for me to blab about my pain. In other words, complain profusely. 

Shadows Dancing has been one of the hardest projects I've worked on-- and I'm not close to being done. It has a complex world with a ton of complicated history, various levels of society, and characters that lead such different lives yet end up a close knit group anyways. 

It's also the only book I've tried to plot out completely, which shows just how much I struggled with it. But I know, without a doubt, that this is a book I want to finish.

So, in order to explore the world of my WIP, I wrote a short side-story that followed a new character that lived a normal teenage life in the setting I created. Through the side story I was able to make the world (at least the part of the world that many of the characters would be most in touch with) far more detailed. With that, it became so much easier to envision what it all looked like and what the characters were interacting with. 

She'd seen the grass and felt the fresh air. She'd felt so alive. And she pitied the boy, because he'd never seen that. Never experienced that freedom, however brief it had been.

The character had actually been so completely different from Robyn (the MC of Shadows Dancing) that it allowed me a moment of relaxation. Some characters I never stop being able to write for. Robyn is not one of them. I have to zone in and concentrate, or else I put in a lot of things she would never say, but another character, say Caster, totally would.

Which brings me to the couple of Caster and Robyn. While they do start out disliking each other immensely, they both either want the other's company or need the other's support. Caster wants answers and freedom. Robyn needs someone to guide her through the new world. There's another couple in this book, but they're much less angst and much more fluff than Caster and Robyn.

Robyn is a ghost. Dead for over a century, vengeance bringing her back, power coursing through her veins... the whole deal. She is filled with very well covered hatred, even though it clashes with her naive, trusting personality. No one expects her to be as strong as she is.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Reviewing: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

I first found out about this book through a book trailer, when I'd been going through a ton of them on Youtube. And it stood out. Now, after reading the book, it stands out even more. 

I wasn't expecting to cry. I don't think I was really expecting a ton of emotion-- I'm not a very emotional reader, all that comes after. And this book is definitely not for everyone. It's horrifying and thought-provoking and it makes you come face to face with the real problems that we face today, even though its set in the future. 

How do we determine someone's worth? By how much we love them? By how much they benefit us? This is the re-occurring theme in Unwind, and each time it grows more powerful. It forces you to take a look at yourself, how you would feel. Would you try to make a difference, or fade into the background?

"Unwinds didn't go out with a bang-they didn't even go out with a whimper. they went out with the silence of a candle flame pinched between two fingers." 
I wouldn't say this book is creepy. It's too... honest and blunt, to be creepy, at least in my opinion. You can see the reality in the way the parents turn their backs, in the way no one wanted this but no one tried to stop it either. It's sobering.

While I do think that so many parents would not even consider having their children unwound, there are, as always, the exceptions. I just... I don't think there would be quite so many parents picking which of their children they loved more. What good, legitimate reason could they possibly have to have their children unwound? Also, why would the Pro-Life group ever agree to the Bill of Life? Would you say the person who donated their heart is still alive in that other person? That piece of them is the same, yes, but it doesn't hold the memories, the feelings, or the way they laugh when they hear a joke.

The characters, Lev, Connor, and Risa were all real. While a lot of people have said that Lev was annoying and they disliked him until the end of the book, I'm here to tell you that it was a case of brainwashing. Raising someone to believe that it is a blessing to be sacrificed, to be taken apart piece by piece is wrong. Lev was raised from birth to see it as a gift. Age 1~13 is the exact time to manipulate a child to think a certain way, to control how they see the world. I've seen incredibly sweet people be racist and homophobic, simply because of how they were raised. That's why I found Lev one of the realest of them. I felt more sorry for him than I did angry towards him.

Connor and Risa were also real. I think that's what made Unwind such an incredible read-- the blunt, cold truth being shoved in your face. Here. Make what you will of it.

Connor is seen as a "wild child." He makes plans to run away, to escape the life his parents chose for him. Risa is simply not talented enough, even though she's tried so hard. There's someone to relate to for everyone. You can see pieces of your own personality in theirs, and sometimes that makes it so much harder.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

5 Things that Really Bother Me in Literature

Yeah. This is a ranty post. You probably guessed.

I've read a lot of books over the years. I've barely scratched the surface in some genres, barely even scratched the surface in the genres I love, but I've come across a lot of things that bother (in some cases, infuriate) me in literature. I've read stuff that's really stereotypical, hurtful, or promotes unhealthy relationships.

1. Stalking, over-possessiveness, etc. in relationships.

It is not okay if the guy you date regularly stalks you, or stands outside your window while you sleep, or thrashes any guy who dares be friendly to you. It is not okay if he acts like this is a completely normal, sane thing to do. It is not okay if he acts like he knows it's wrong but does it anyway "because he cares about you." No. Just, no. A guy who really cared about you would respect your boundaries. He would trust you-- and I don't get why this isn't addressed more often in YA.

It is also not okay if he is super controlling. A person should be able to make their own decisions. If he cannot be accepting of that, then he needs to leave.

While it is incredibly rare that the woman in the relationship is the controlling/possessive one, the same goes. It is not okay. 

2. What makes a "strong" character.

Saying that a girl is only strong when she doesn't need anyone is so wrong-- everyone needs a hand eventually. The people who push others away under the claim that they don't need help because they're strong are the ones who cry when they're all alone and eventually cave in on themselves from the pressure to be tough. As time passes, they feel like they can't voice how they feel, can't reach out. So they stop trying all-together.

This isn't just for girls. Guys are constantly told that they're "weak" or "feminine" if they get emotional. THIS MAKES ME SO UPSET. Guys have emotions, too. It's okay to cry sometimes! It's okay to let yourself go because you just can't hold it in anymore. It's not okay to bash someone who is crying when they've probably been holding it in for a long time. People don't just cry over nothing-- they have a reason (not always a good one, but still). And until you know what that reason is, shut up and back off.

3. Parents that are always MIA/parents that just don't care.

I get it. It's hard to have adventures with your parents around. But it's so not a good explanation to have them up and gone from the story.

My parents love me, and I know for sure that if something super scary happened to me, the first thing I would do is tell them. And I know that they would worry about me, they would be protective of me-- because that's what parents do. 

4. Hiding info on what's happening to protect someone.

More often than not, telling your friend/parent/significant other what's going on will help them be protected, because that way they can protect themselves. While I do understand that explaining it is something that would be hard to explain-- "Hey, there's this person that wants to kidnap/kill you because of me"-- seriously, imagine the questions. Imagine the rage/terror at someone endangering your life like that. But, in the end, wouldn't you be grateful that they told you? Ignorance is bliss, but if it also gets you killed, I'd much rather know.

5. Insta-love.

Yeah. I really don't like insta-love. Unfortunately, it happens in a ton of books. Yeah, some try and pass it off as non-insta by having them have either visions of each other or meeting when they were teeny children, but no.

I (quite clearly) do not believe insta-love exists. I do believe in insta-crush, but not love. Love is something that can only be achieved once you know someone. If you don't truly know someone, then you don't love them, you love the version that they are around you.