The Good in the Face of Judgement.

A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy- Sarah J Maas.

Ever read a book series that truly stood out for being the voice of those not heard? Strangely enough for me, this book series was ACOTAR by Sarah J. Maas. Whilst aware of the controversy surrounding Maas and her series of books, I became immersed in ACOTAR. I admit that Maas isn’t the most expert of writers and at times her metaphors and similes could be downright uncomfortable to read. (Every time someone bares their teeth you have to take a drink, you’ll be drunk in no time). Maas does address issues within society such as physical, emotional and sexual abuse towards men, women who are sexual predators and coercive even though society laughs them off and the true effects of someone who believes that what they are doing is right but is entirely abusive.

Throughout ACOTAR most of the male characters have faced some kind of abuse in varying forms. Rhysand at the hand of Amarantha, Azriel at the hands of his own kin and Lucien by his own brother and then sexually assaulted by Ianthe.

Within today’s society, although progress is beginning to be made, any man who comes forth about any form of abuse is often disbelieved or is told that it’s not possible for men to be raped (it is). Maas creates characters are damaged and healing from the abuse they suffered and continue to suffer in some ways. Rhys’s treatment after ACOTAR and in the subsequent books ACOMAF and ACOWAR, where they mutter ‘whore’ or downright disbelieve that he was abused at Amarantha’s hand is exceedingly powerful as it’s near enough an accurate depiction of what men suffer today when they come forth about abuse.

Although, there are some issues with Maas’s writing and stories one cannot disprove that this is something that needs to be brought into the public eye. We are finally seeing the truth of what Amber Heard did to Johnny Depp and thankfully most of society is in uproar over his treatment and have subsequently turned on Heard. Yet there are those questioning why he stayed with her? Could he not have stood up to her?

Maas addresses these questions by showing that through manipulation and emotional coercion, that women can also abuse men. Novels have always been a powerful tool and I was grateful to read a story where although filled with gallant heroes, they also had their own trauma.

Not to say Maas got it perfect, this is still a fantasy story mostly focused on a Beauty and the Beast concept rather than focused on bringing light and understanding to male suffering. The ability however, to include this aspect is one that I fully appreciated and hope is embraced but other authors within YA to encourage understanding and slowly erode away prejudice.

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak (A book review)

The Book Thief tells the story of a young girl called Liesel Meminger through the eyes of Death. Zusak’s novel is set in World War 2 Germany, and we follow Liesel from 1939 through to 1944. Zusak doesn’t hold back and in the beginning, tragedy has already struck our young protagonist. As she walks away from the Cemetery she picks up a book from the ground, her first book is stolen.

As the novel progresses we learn that Liesel cannot read and so her foster father, Hans Hubermann teaches her to. As Liesel learns to read, the reader is taken through the World War Two years in Molching and the effect it has on this small town. We clutch the book tightly, as Rosa Hubermann (Liesel’s foster mother) slowly loses work cleaning the neighbours’ laundry. We feel sympathy as we learn more about the kindness within Hans and the difficult positions he is put in. We read nervously, as Max, a Jew is hidden in the Huberman’s basement. We cheer for Rudy Steiner, Leisel’s best friend as he admires Jesse Owens (four time Olympic Gold Medallist in 1936) in a Country that isn’t accepting of other races. We feel the pain of families ripped apart and our hearts reach out to Hans, who judges no one and cares for all. We question over Isla Hermann, who becomes the sole victim of Liesel’s book thievery, all the whilst aware of the girl’s actions. We slowly become accustomed to Death as he narrates and weaves the story, Zusak turning Death into a shadowy human. Capable of emotion.

Zusak weaves together characters struggling and fighting to keep together in the small town of Molching so well. The impact of the Second World War on a small town is portrayed well and the affect this has on the characters is also delivered well. He weaves each character together with ease and we are able to feel emotion for each.

This is where Zusak excels, human emotion and bringing the concept of Death to life. However, this is marred with a poorly paced narrative and a girl who doesn’t entirely deserve the moniker ‘book thief’.

Every chapter Death gives us an overview of what’s happening next, which means the element of surprise and discovery for the reader is gone. Death even goes so far in varying chapters to tell us the end of the book, an ending which is altogether sad and tragic but doesn’t have the desired impact on the reader. The sharpness of pain and overwhelming sadness is gone as we are already told how our story is going to end.

Liesel who gains the name ‘Book Thief’ from her best friend Rudy, hardly steals any books. The majority of her theivery is from Isla Hermann, who before the reader can question whether she was aware of what the young protagonist is up to, has Zusak explain that Hermann did indeed know what the girl was doing. As the story progresses Hermann ensures that the window to her library is open so Leisel can indeed ‘thieve’ books from their shelves. I had hoped that in Nazi Germany, where books were often burned or thrown out due to their nature not agreeing with that of Hitler, that we would see Liesel triumph over them and steal books from them. This hope came from the second book she stole which was from a book burning. However, this was short lived.

Whilst most who have read this book, highly rate it I have to disagree. Altogether whilst a fantastic premise and character portrayal, this book falls short. In some ways I feel that it is helped that Western Society is very focused on keeping the history of World War Two in the conciousness of everyone and therefore, this story is easy to read and swallow as most are aware of the horrors everyone faced during those six years.

Whilst an enjoyable book, I feel that it was poorly executed and could have been delivered with a stronger narrative.

Overall rating: 3/5*

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

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