April 18th, 2010

tea_and_tomes: (Default)
Sunday, April 18th, 2010 10:12 am
As much as I enjoy the plot of the House of Night books, and as much as admire the realism of the characters, I have to admit that some of Zoey's thoughts about people grate on my nerves. Take, for example, the following quote from Betrayed:

"Clearly he was one of those geeky kids who is a dork, but a likable dork with potential (translation: he bathes and brushes his teeth, plus has good skin and doesn't dress like a total loser)."

This attitude? Do not want. The implication there is that the dorks and geeks of the world (who, if you want to play to stereotypes, are the ones who are good with computers and enjoy fantasy books and yes, are often the ones who will enjoy the very novels that PC and Kristin Cast write) are unwashed and dirty, and that "potential" as a person relies on the quality of one's skin and clothing.

Now, I understand that Zoey's thoughts are her own and don't necessarily reflect the opinions of the authors. My problem is that they reflect the opinions of a lot of teenagers and adults, and I'm sorry, but I'm tired of feeling like a pariah because of somebody's else's baseless preconceptions.

Yes, this is a sore spot with me, and as much as I enjoy some novels, I well and truly get tired of being indirectly insulted like this. People put these kinds of opinions into their books because they're common opinions, and unfortunately they just reinforce the mistaken impressions.

I'll give you another great example that ruined what may well be a good book by an author I like. I tried to read Death's Daughter, by Amber Benson, because I love her sense of humour and her acting. I figured I'd enjoy her book. I tried valiantly to get past the fact that I couldn't relate to the "modern high-powered female" main character, the one who's interested in high fashion and dating and all that. I really tried.

And then I got to the part where Calliope (the main character) is thinking about delivering her overweight boss's decaf no-fat latte, wondering why said boss even bothers with the "decaf no-fat" thing because Calliope thinks it's all just for show, and that "everybody knows that as soon as the office door is closed the boss just chows down on the stash of candy and junk food she must have hidden is her desk drawers."

I closed the book. As someone who's overweight and who's had to struggle with it for the majority of my life, that hit home and dug deep, and I lost a lot of respect for Amber Benson. I don't enjoy reading about shallow idiots. I don't like having to keep telling myself that the author may not actually think that way just because their characters do. Sometimes to repeat it to myself like a mantra, hoping that I'll actually believe it in the end.

Does it work? I'm still waiting. Regardless, it keeps reinforcing public image of fat people as compulsive overeaters who lie to the world, of greasy-haired nerds who play chicks-in-chainmail to get their kicks because they're too ugly to get near a real girl.

One of these days, I'm going to write my own novel. The protagonist will be a nerdy girl with a goddess-of-Willendorf body who is a social outcast and spends her time reading fantasy novels and playing video games. And when the world goes to hell in a handbasket, she'll be the only one who knows what to do because everyone around her spent their lives being concerned about dating and new clothes and shiny hair, and she spent her life reading about different kinds of magic and monsters.