Conceived in an effort to more judiciously represent ethnic and cultural diversity in YA fiction, this provocative collection, edited by SF author Buckell and literary agent Monti explores dystopian themes through multiple lenses. Instead of the usual white faces, the stories feature protagonists from a broader spectrum, all doing their best to survive in hostile or frightening settings. While there’s not a single misfire in this anthology, particular works stand out. Ellen Oh’s “The Last Day” takes place in a world torn apart by a decades-long war, while K. Tempest Bradford’s “The Uncertainty Principle” sees time travel constantly altering one girl’s surroundings. Malinda Lo’s “The Good Girl” is a prickly love story set against the desire for a better life, and Cindy Pon’s “Blue Skies” is almost painful in its longing for escape. Not only do these stories feature racially diverse casts, set all over the world or in space, some have gay and lesbian protagonists, giving readers plenty with which to identify. Happy endings are infrequent, but readers will eagerly immerse themselves in each vividly constructed world.
(Via like everyone on Twitter.)
a rec list of subjectively awesome under-appreciated YA bc all i get on tumblr is john green and thg and lately the mortal instruments and there is good YA i swear
- White Cat by Holly Black: modern day urban fantasy noir with a MOC what else do you need ETA: HOLLY BLACK IN GENERAL OK
- Liar by Justine Larbalestier: a beautiful mindfuck of truths you won’t believe by a bi WOC narrator
- The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: for an understanding between souls who eat and breath man-eating horses of the sea some like to call romance (do not go in expecting the hunger games whatever the description reads)
- Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey: SUBVERTED PERSEPHONE - not explicitly but still. this book is entrenched in its New Zealand setting and built entirely on Maori myth
- Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud: it’s abt magicians and stuff and w/e ACKNOWLEDGEMENT THAT THAT THEIR POWERS COME FROM SLAVERY AND BARTIMAEUS XEMSELF JUST READ
- The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan: Supernatural set in the UK and this amoral pair of brothers get blackmailed by a pink-haired girl (who eventually becomes the heroine yay!) into helping her brother.
- Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor: a collection of short stories based on Western fairyfolk written to wring out tears of awe.
- Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey: there are no words [tw: torture, abuse, it’s extremely disturbing so prepare for everything tbh]
- Star Crossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce: a YA ASOFAI where religious sects fight for the throne centered on a thief with blood on her hands and magic in her veins. (it’s also a perfect winter read.)
- Ash by Malinda Lo: a lesbian retelling of Cinderella and this is intensely biased as i have a crush on cinderella’s love interest
- Eon by Alison Goodman: i can’t say anything for its authenticity but its world is based on ancient China and is a good deal less offensive than other ancient china recs i’ve seen, so for a change of setting.
- Devil’s Kiss by Sarwat Chadda: also set in the UK, it stars a Middle-Eastern girl Templer Knight raised in the business.
- Rampant by Diana Peterfreund: killer unicorns and the cloister of huntresses who kill them. that is all
- Everything by Courtney Summers: her protagonists range from the terrible to the flawed and it’s a breath of fresh air in a genre where all main characters must be Good. [tw: for some transmisogyny in cracked up to be]
idk if she’s truly underappreciated on tumblr but i feel like no one reads her anyway and this is my list so
- Everything by Melina Marchetta: it’s the soul nourishment you didn’t know you needed. i advise you buy half her books if buying bc you’ll be lost after the first one.
Brit Mandelo has a positive review of Malinda Lo’s latest:
As a story it stands alone easily and in fact feels very different from Ash—partially because Ash is based in European folklore, while Huntress is beautifully immersed in Chinese legend and culture. A reader won’t have any problem jumping right in if they haven’t read Ash (though I would heartily recommend it).
[…] I always like it when an author does something different between books: it makes each new story that much more of a treat, to wonder what will happen in its pages. Ash was a lovely story with a gripping romance and great play with gender and affection. Huntress takes a different tack and focuses on ideas of loyalty, duty, and personal connection—while there is a romance, it is a much more subtle one, with different bonds. (Also, it’s a quest fantasy, which gives it a thoroughly different story-shape.)
If you were having trouble guessing from the title, this is a book about strong girls. Taisin and Kaede are the lead characters, each central to the action and the development of the plot. Between them, they wield magic, knives, arrows and strategy to make a difficult crossing to the fairy city of Tanlili.
Oh yeah, and spoilers ahoy!
Invitation to whitewash…?
Malinda Lo writes that, while she imagines the characters in her novel Ash as Asian, they aren’t necessarily so:
When I wrote Ash, I had a mental image of what my characters looked like. In my imagination, they appeared to have Asian features. However, there is no Asia in Ash’s world (it’s a fantasy world), so there is no way they could actually be Asian. In addition, Ash’s country and culture have only very distant ties to Chinese cultural tradition, and I’m pretty sure nobody except anthropologists would pick up on that link. So if you’re looking for signs of Asian influence, it’s unlikely that you’ll find them.
When bloggers list Ash as a book that includes people of color, that’s very kind of them, but honestly, I don’t think it deserves to be in that category. That takes away from books that truly are are about race and ethnic diversity, or that engage overtly with those identities.
But also — and this is very important: My opinion is only my opinion. I think that sometimes readers tend to give too much credence to an author’s thoughts about her own work. Every reader brings his or her background to a book, and a book’s meaning is always a negotiation between the reader (and her experiences) and the story itself. What the author says outside the pages of the book is largely irrelevant.
At Ars Marginal, aliciaaho replies,
This is a nice theory, but it begs the question: why is race left up to the reader, when queerness is built into the structure of the novel?
[…] Not excluding the possibility that the protagonist is a person of color is not quite the same as including a protagonist who is a person of color. It’s not precisely whitewashing — but it feels kinda close.
I’ve seen similar arguments from authors a few times before — “I never said what race they were, so they could be whatever you want” — but never before about characters read as POC. I don’t really know what to say, I’m just sort of grimacing. There’s so many white characters in fiction…seriously, the only reason to do this is to assuage the unease of white readers at not being 100% sure that every single character looks like them. Which I’m sure is good marketing, but I don’t think it’s good anything else. Now, I haven’t actually read the book so there could well be indicators that the characters look Asian (just like those other books have plenty of indicators those characters who could totally be POC are white) — and I’m not the one writing for a living, so, y’know. My wild and pessimistic speculations are just that.
Malinda Lo takes a look at upcoming YA fantasy novels featuring characters of colour and/or gay characters, and argues that it’s justified to forgo cover art with people of colour, or cover copy that clearly indicates gay content, in the name of Getting Crap Past the Radar. Thoughts?
Via Nnedi Okorafor on Twitter.
Azn authors Cindy Pon (Silver Phoenix, 2009) and Malinda Lo (Ash, 2009) will be off on a book tour in summer 2011 to celebrate diversity in YA fiction! Stops include NYC, San Fran, Austin, San Diego and Boston, with a wide range of YA authors joining them at each stop! You lucky lucky people you.
I CAN’T WAIT I CAN’T WAIT I CAN’T WAIT AHHH
For those of you who haven’t read Ash…this is a prequel book about the line of huntresses Cinderella’s Charming amazing girlfriend descended from. And it’s gonna be another queer YA book in the awesome world Malinda Lo built. *___* I JUST.
SUCH AN AMAAAAZING COVER!
I want this book right now.
Description: A young woman with long black hair and wearing a long-sleeved black coat grips a staff in front of her, so that it divides her face. Wind-blown snow falls around her. “Huntress” is at the top in purple script, and “Malinda Lo” in plain white capitals at the bottom.
A Chinese-influenced lesbian YA fantasy?
*head explodes from awesome*
AND TO THINK I SPENT MY YOUTH READING FUCKING PERN