Showing posts with label military. Show all posts
Showing posts with label military. Show all posts

Friday, February 3, 2017

[Review] The Winner's Curse (The Winner's #1) - Marie Rutkoski: In Which Slavery Isn't All That Bad





In THE WINNER'S CURSE, Kestrel buys a slave and gets mixed up in a revolution.

What intrigued me: Gorgeous cover mostly, but also the hype.

So... slavery is okay, I guess?

I didn't really know what I was getting myself into when I started THE WINNER'S CURSE. I had no idea that it would be about slaves, and I had even less of an idea about the romance being between the slave owner and the slave! What can I say, I just find this incredibly distasteful and strange, especially as a minority myself, I don't want to read about the romanticization of slave trade.

THE WINNER'S CURSE is a prime example of how to not approach a sensitive topic and exactly the reason why I shy away from books written by white people about topics that influence the lives of POC. People never do their research. Rutkoski uses slave trade as a mere plot device to showcase her white savior protagonist and didn't even bother to portray the lives of slaves accurately. I'm not asking for historical accuracy here, it's high fantasy after all, but could we not act like the life as a slave is actually quite okay and they're basically just well-off servants? Could we not act like slavery doesn't involve torture, robbing people of their identities, robbing them of their homes, and treating them like actual human trash?

THE WINNER'S CURSE doesn't even once show us how horribly slaves are treated. The Valorians, the conquerors, are never actually shown beating their slaves. From a novel that's about such a topic you'd expect some graphic scenes. You'd expect something beyond just trading people like cattle. I assume Rutkoski decided not to show this because this would lead to us not rooting for the Valorians, aka Kestrel.

This is not a fictional scenario, slave trade exists to this day (!!!!). Could we not invalidate the experiences of minorities all over the world and act like it isn't all that bad and that you just have to wait for your rich white person to save you and give you the opportunity to revolt?

If at least the prose was great...

My personal feelings about the romance and the whole slavery thing aside, THE WINNER'S CURSE is not a skillfully written book. The writing is very technical, very emotionless. Lots of short sentences, lots of factual descriptions, even worse with changes in POV! I struggled with it a lot in the beginning because it's just not what I'm used to. 

The premise isn't that bad, despite Rutkoski not really bothering with world building. What made me lose all faith in the book is the fact that her protagonist Kestrel is an absolutely horrible person. She doesn't care about the slaves, she buys one herself even, and at no point tries to actually help the slaves. It's absolutely despicable to read about someone that doesn't understand slavery is bad - until she actually forms a bond with a slave. Wtf?!

I am tired, so, so, so tired. I can't believe that nobody bothers to mention this in reviews. I can't believe that nobody even seems to bother to get upset about this. 

Why is this so popular?

Rating:

☆☆

  


Overall: Do I Recommend?

I find this book incredibly offensive. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone and it's beyond me how you can close your eyes to the problematicness of it all. Privilege I guess. Thumbs down from me.


Additional Info

Published: March 4th 2015
Pages: 355
Publisher: Farrar Strauss Giroux
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9780374384685

Synopsis:
"Winning what you want may cost you everything you love... 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. "(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read THE WINNER'S CURSE?

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Saturday, October 1, 2016

[Review] Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) - Sylvain Neuvel: Giant Robots and Outer Space




In SLEEPING GIANTS, a little girl finds an enormous robot hand made of metal in the woods and the military immediately grows interested in it.

What intrigued me: The tagline they used in promotion got me. World War Z meets THE MARTIAN? Um yeah, get on my shelf ASAP.

Perfect transitional read for people who don't like Sci-Fi

SLEEPING GIANTS is told through interview snippets and diary entries from multiple characters. All in some way connect to a mysterious man who is secretly in control of the operation to get the robot to work.  Most of it is actually dialogue, which I loved. 

It makes this way easier to read and hides the fact that this is a pretty heavy Sci-fi thriller with political elements. Especially for people like me who shy away from epic Sci-fi or political thrillers, this could serve as a nice transitional read to get more into the genre.

I definitely struggled a little with the tone of the novel. Most of the plot is told from the perspective of military officials and scientists who use highbrow language and complex scientific processes to explain things. Even though Neuvel tries to simplify all concepts and processes, I found myself zoning out whenever someone started talking about chemical elements. This is very minor though, because the story about the ancient robot hand will eventually suck you in and force you to keep on reading until your eyes burn. It happened to me. At some point the story just starts to become so gripping and you get so invested that it's almost impossible to put it down. 

Enchanting and thrilling

I was surprised to grow attached to the characters and their fate. Neuvel manages to paint multi-faceted character relationships by telling the majority of the interactions in retrospective. If two characters who aren't the mysterious interviewer and another character interact, it's always told after it happened and through the eyes of one of the people who were there. 

You'd think that format would get tiring after a while but it really doesn't. I'm so glad Neuvel wrote this almost exclusively in dialogue, because I'm sure I would've zoned out or even quit the novel altogether if that story was told in a classic way. Like this it's easy, it's handy, it fits the plot. I enjoyed this a lot and found myself unable to predict any of the twists, which is really rare. SLEEPING GIANTS is a very unique, almost experimental read that will surprise and enchant you.


Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Following the events in SLEEPING GIANTS almost became an addiction. It's really impossible to put down and a fantastic thriller that you should read if you like conspiracies and aliens. It put me in the worst reading slump ever because it's so genius!



Additional Info

Published: August 8th 2016
Pages: 416
Publisher: Heyne
Genre: Sci- Fi / Aliens
ISBN: 9783453316904

Synopsis:
"A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?"(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read SLEEPING GIANTS?

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