Saturday, September 28, 2013

Christian Grey Vs Seto Kaiba or How an Action-Anime for Kids Did It Better!

Previous post: 50 Shades of Realism: Ana Steele VS The Modern Virgin

So Christian Grey, right? He is so awesome and dreamy and perfect.
Wait no, he isn't! He is an abusive douchebag.
Ok, sorry about that. Let's go by what the book TELLS us about him, not what it SHOWS.

So then Christian is super successful, he build a great empire in no time by dropping from college by a lended money. He is intimidating, likes fast/monstrous cars (again what we are TOLD), he likes big displays of wealth, social status, ego-strokes. He is selfish, a bit of a jerk and certainly a control freak.  He has a broken childhood including an abusive situation and a dead parent-figure. He is amazing at his job and has cartoonish bodyguards. He loves his siblings. He is incredibly young. He is hot and is into BDSM.
NO! Matt Bomer as Neal Caffrey is NOT Christian Grey.
It's was the only realistic version of Grey that I found, though. I am so sorry, Matt.

Hmm, I can think of one very prominent character a bit like that and no one from any erotic fiction (though I and lot of females did have a major fictional-character-crush on him). It's:

Oh, Snap!

Ok, so for those of you who weren't kids/tweens ir didn't have kids/tweens in the early 2000s, Yu-gi-Oh was action-manga for kids (boys mostly, and I am sorry but I forgot the Japanese word for that genre), later adapted to a anime, the rights to which were bought by 4Kids in 2001.

It was about... adults playing a children's card game. Really, I can't explain it any better. This game is like the official sport in their world and most people play/want to play and the good ones are worldly-recognized. It's like Quidditch in Harry Potter except for the whole freakin' Western world. Also it's about ancient magic of dead civilizations. Go figure!

Seto Kaiba (or Kaiba as the show referred to him and as I will for the purposes this article) was the antagonist... except when he wasn't. On multiple occasions he'd help the main heroes, but usually for a selfish reason. He is basically everything that I said about Christian Grey and more. Well, except for being into BDSM, but I believe it was heavily implied. (Seriously, though - it's a kids' show.)

Unlike Grey, however whose personality is the same color as his eyes and name (see what I did there?), Kaiba was um... how do I say this? Interesting.

Besides the things I already pointed out, he could also pilot planes and helicopters; was a world-class hacker, a bit of a pick-pocketer, pretty proficient in martial-arts, a great escape-artist, amazing chess player and world-chapion of that card-game. Also - he was incredibly badass.

Not to mention, that what we are told about Kaiba is the same as what we are shown. This guy was a workaholic! And not a made-up workaholic like Christian, who while somehow being extremely rich and successful, can blow-off important business meetings on a whim; never ever works on a weekend; has all the time for lavish vacations; and basically makes his business decisions based on who he is fucking right now.\

Also, the reason Kaiba is so ridiculously successful  is not only because he was a kid-genius, but he also had his father's money and his company that he just re-build (not build from nothing).

He was never a bad or a good guy per se (except for the first two episodes), but was an egotistical jerk and the show jokes about that. However, he loved his brother more than anything and would've done anything for him, which showed he also had a soft side. He had good parents who died, then he went into an orphanage and was adopted by a rich abusive jackass, so no wonder he grew to be a cold and selfish overachiever.

Also, did I mention that he was really hot!

I am not kidding here, but I think I had my sexual awakening thanks to him. Ok, not really obvs, since I was around eight or nine when I first watched the show, but... he was so cool...

Sorry, I got distracted there for a minute. What I meant to say is that I loved this character and yes, - I totally romanticized him.  I think that's why to today I am always attracted to the jerk-with-a-golden-heart (thorpe) both in media and the real world and usually have it in my own writing.

And yes, he was totally into BDSM. And he was a Dom.
Oh, my...

Ahem. Anyway, basically what I am saying is  - when a kid's show centered around a bunch of teens and adults playing a children's card game, a show that included NO ROMANCE* (even by kids' shows' standards) has a sexeier, more realistic enigmatic-CEO-jerk-with-a-golden-heart character than the most successful book ever (and certainly the most successful erotic romance), something is terribly wrong.

Not to mention - in 50 shades Christian is THE MAIN character and the scenes without him are glossed over. Kaiba was a supporting character. There were many consecutive episodes without him and he was still my favorite guy (in show full of guys - it  had three girls as main characters and even that is stretch).

Seriously? When a kids' show has a sexier character than the lead of an mainstream erotic romance, you just have to rethink the universe.

Be ashamed, E.L. James. Be thoroughly ashamed!

*Well, we had two guys fighting over that one girl, but she ended up going out with neither. There was also an obvious attraction between two more couples (in the canon!), but neither let anywhere.

Well, that's for now from me, expect my first Supernatural tematic review in the coming month.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Ana Steele VS The Modern Virgin or Why Ana Sucks

Alright, I have a lot to go through, but let's start simple. Ana is not the most realistic character, everyone knows that. Yes, there are more introvert women that prefer quiet and books than parties (I fancy myself one), but Ana's uninvolvement in life and... the world is, um... ridiculous.

To create the ultimate weapon of naivety and virgin perfection EL James had to make Ana so detached from everything, she seemed a different age in a different century.

1. Not having a smart-phone, laptop or email.
I... There is no WAY in hell Ana didn't have an email before Christian both her that Mac. You literally must have one, so you can apply to university. Not mention, once you arrive there the university makes one for you. Not having a laptop can happen, I guess - you could go to the computer centre - universitis always have one, but... well, from the moment I arrived at uni what pretty much everyone has been saying is,
'You can find/do everything you need online, my little lambs.' 

I have to go online to prepare for class, to do research and I need laptop to do my assessments. For god's sake I have to go online to do my laundry! No I am not kidding - you get a card, then you register in this website, put money in your card and then you can do laundry). I won't be able to survive without a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection in uni.

And as far as smartphones go, yeah, technically you can do without them fine, but people use them for everything! On the first event I went in for freshers' week I was asked: 'Do you have a smartphone?' Also, I am sorry but I refuse to believe that Ana has spent 4 years in university and never learnt how to google stuff. I wouldn't have survived high school without that ability, let alone uni!

So then why has EL James made our heroine so detached from the world?

Well... the internet is a place of all information. I'm still a virgin and yet I know... everything there is to know about sex. I probably know more than some people who are actually having it. Ana with internet connection will not be that same ridicilously-innocent Ana that we all know and hate.

2. Never having mastrubated/had any sexual fabtasies and desires of any sort

This one, I cannot explain better than the ladies at 50 Shades of Green (or if you are more interested in there other project, the pale brunette is also known as Nostalgia Chick.) Like Nella explains: "The reason why Ana has never had any sexual fantasies before she meets her Twu Luv is not so people would relate to that, because no one would, it's that they'll relate to the fact that they think that's how it should be."

And while I agree with her, I have to call bullshit on this type of thinking - sex is one thing, love is another! Yes, often love may include sex and sex leads to love, but one certainly does not equal the other.

3. Not knowing basic things about sex.

There's a lot of time you just have to roll your eyes at how clueless Ana is. Like Erika said - there's no way she'll be that clueless after 4 years in university. It's impossible, especially in the 21st century.

So again - the reason EL James wrote it in, is because she needed someone really innocent to be the foil of Grey and his sexuall-liberated/ 'dark' ways.

Except... James has a very broken idea of innocence. She thinks that being innocent means a naive, conservative, clueless idiot.

Look, it's not that I mind the virgin thorpe - ok, I do. It's stupid, cliché and way too over-used, but everyone's sexual awakening has to start somewhere right? So what I am saying is - I wouldn't mind Ana Steele as much if she was a Modern Virgin (aka still without sexual experience, but educated in the theory, confident and familiar with her own body), not the ridiculous stereotype of one.

Here's the chapter where Ana loses her virginity, re-capped by this awesome author, whose recaps everyone should totally read. I can personally find at least 5 inaccuracies of the top of my head. There's also an audio version of this one, read by Kate Davidson.

Next installment in 50 Shades of Realism expect: Christian Grey VS Seto Kaiba (or how a kid's show did it better)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Supernatural: Thematic Reviews

Alright, so I started doing an episode-by-episode reviews of Supernatural, but they weren't umm... interesting. So I decided I'll divide the show into themes to talk about, instead. There's not a lot to say so far, but I'll have one done possibly by the end of October at the least.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

1.Marked - Chapter 1 or Meeting two horrible people

We start off meeting our heroine and first person narrator Zoey in school with her friend Kayla. She sees a 'dead guy' by the lockers  that no one else seems to see, except... wait a minute! Vampyres aren't dead. They are Changed. And it's not like humans don't know in this universe, so why is this here at all?

Also, yes, this is exactly how we (the readers) are dropped into this universe. Now, I know that 'acting like everything is normal' is a method of writing and seems to be a good one, too.

I can see why, considering how info dumps are always clumsy and awkward. Often times, I am like 'Wait if all of this is common knowledge, why would this characters repeat it to one another, except to introduce the reader to this information?'

But I still want a hint, at least. Well, to the credit of these authors, they actually do explain this (pretty much the way I did), but not before you had the time to ask yourself 'What the fuck?' at least three times.

Kayla is talking about this guy named Heath, who 'didn't get that drunk after the game and Zoey is being harsh on him' (later we find that Heath is Zoey's no-good almost-boyfriend.) Except our heroine isn't really listening but thinking that she is feeling out of sorts.
 Then I coughed. Again. I felt like crap. I must be coming down with what Mr. Wise, my more-than-slightly-insane AP biology teacher, called the Teenage Plague. 
If I died, would it get me out of my geometry test tomorrow? One could only hope. 
This is literally 1/3d into the first page and Zoey is already being horrible. Dying is better than geometry?! Ok, that's not fair, I've told myself the exact same thing. Moving on.

Next comes the everyday teenage drama. The only important detail, I want to mention is that Zoey doesn't seem to like her step-father, and she even calls him Step-Loser.

They keep talking about how Heath only got drunk because he was celebrating his American football win. Also, yes I'll keep calling it American football. I am from Europe and I believe that for a sprt to be called 'football'  it should include FEET and a BALL. Neither of which are prime elements in AF, so yeah, suck it, Americans. Soccer is the only sport that deserves the title football (and I am not even sports fan).

Yeah, they keep talking about Heath. Zoey hates the fact that he drinks so much, Kayla defends him. Also, she (Kayla) is shallow because she thinks he is hot.

OH, THE HORROR! Surely no teenage girl (or a woman, period) has ever been into a guy simply because he is HOT. She may be interested in loads of other guys for loads of other reasons, but if she likes ONE guy, simply because he is hot, she is just just a horrible, shallow person.

Unfortunately, Kayla is just our token shallow-friend to show how deep, smart and incredible our protagonist is. And by the way I just want to point out how Zoey thinks this is shallow. Just remember it for now, I promise it'll come in play later.

Then I saw him. The dead guy. Okay, I realized pretty quick that he wasn't technically "dead.” He was undead. Or un-human. Whatever. Scientists said one thing, people said another, but the end result was the same. There was no mistaking what he was and even if I hadn't felt the power and darkness that radiated from him, there was no frickin' way I could miss his Mark, the sapphire- blue crescent moon on his forehead and the additional tattooing of entwining knot work that framed his equally blue eyes. He was a vampyre, and worse. He was a Tracker. 

Yeah, there's no darkness. At all. Ever. From anyone. Except villains. And not even all of them. I...

Also yes, because I didn't explain very well, here: This guy is a Tracker. Trackers are the Hunters, who take teenagers to vampyre school and turn them into fledglings (students, vampyre-trainees). They will one day turn into full vampyres. Or die. No, I am not kidding. And I am not making fun of the series either. The only two options after you are Marked are to go through the change or to die. And dying happens quite a lot, too.

So the Tracker marks Zoey with the vampyre mark (for a fledgling that's the outline of a dark blue crescent moon on their forehead, for a vampyre it's filled in, too.) Also, we find out that Zoey is a bit of a random idiot (but a cute idiot, she just says the most ridiculous/strange) things! Yey, characterization!

And just if you are wondering, that's the verbal equivalent of 'clumsy', so you can guess that it's the most common 'flaw' for leading protagonists. Oh, I forgot - Zoey is bad at math too. If you guessed that we have a Mary Sue on our hands, my dear, you'll be most certainly right.

Zoey's friend is very upset that Zoey has been Marked. So much that Zoey has to be the one to calm her down, and I have to say - I really hate Kayla here. She is not being a friend; she is being a selfish jerk.

And she automatically cringed, and moved away from me. 
I couldn't believe it. She actually cringed, like she was afraid of me. She must have seen the hurt in my eyes because she instantly started a string of breathless K-babble.
"Oh, God, Zoey! What are you going to do? You can't go to that place. You can't be one of those things. This can't be happening! Who am I supposed to go to all of our football games with?”

I noticed that all during her tirade she didn't once move any closer to me. I clamped down on the sick, hurt feeling inside that threatened to make me burst into tears. My eyes dried instantly. I was good at hiding tears. I should be; I'd had three years to get good at it. 

So yes, this thing is obviously Kayla's normal behaviour, so much that Zoey doesn't even notice. Also, our heroine is tortured - she had to hide her tears!

So yes, Zoey is Marked and has to deal with that. Also she has a stupid Barbie-clone sister. Is her sister really stupid and a Barbie-clone? I don't know. We never meet her and after this chapter she seems to drop out of existence, because no one ever mentions her again. Was she taken from the Aliens, who also deleted anyone's memory of  her? Well, it's as good of an explanation as any.

So yeah, a bunch of unnecessary details. Also Zoey is afraid that  she'll become a stereotype.
Do vampyres play chess? Were there vampyre dorks? How about Barbie-like vampyre cheerleaders? Did any vampyres play in the band? Were there vampyre Emos with their guy-wearing-girl's-pants weirdness and those awful bangs that cover half their faces? Or were they all those freaky Goth kids who didn't like to bathe much? Was I going to turn into a Goth kid? Or worse, an Emo? I didn't particularly like wearing black, at least not exclusively, and I wasn't feeling a sudden and unfortunate aversion to soap and water, nor did I have an obsessive desire to change my hairstyle and wear too much eyeliner. 
Don't worry, Zoey, you are already your own stereotype. You are the perfect-in-everything protagonist that everyone (who counts) likes and is attracted to, even though she is actually awful.

Oh, Kayla's here. Hi, Kayla, I had forgotten you about you for a while. Actually that may have been for the best, seeing as how Kayla continues to act horribly. She doesn't  even try to hide that she is afraid of her friend. Then this supposed best friend leaves Zoey in her time of need to go home with her  boyfriend.

And the Award for the worst person ever goes to...

Really, Kayla, the elitist-Zoey, who is already well on her way of becoming the biggest Mary Sue in published fiction since Bella Swan is nice compared to you. Come to think of it, that was probably the point... Well, to her credit she does ask Zoey to 'call her later', but it just like she is actually saying 'we'll never talk again'.

So Zoey is contemplating her choices:
The problem, of course, was that turning into a monster was the brighter of my two choices. Choice Number 1: I turn into a vampyre, which equals a monster in just about any human's mind. Choice Number 2: My body rejects the Change and I die. Forever. 

Yes, Zoey that's how dying usually works. I mean personally I believe in the whole being re-born philosophy, but since you have no memories of previous lives anyway, it's all the same.

Now... oh, the hell with it.

          So the good news is that I wouldn't have to take the geometry test tomorrow.

The bad news was that I'd have to move into the House of Night, a private boarding school in Tulsa's Midtown, known by all my friends as the Vampyre Finishing School, where I would spend the next four years going through bizarre and unnameable physical changes, as well as a total and permanent life shake-up. And that's only if the whole process didn't kill me. Great. I didn't want to do either. I just wanted to attempt to be normal, despite the burden of my mega-conservative parents, my troll-like younger brother, and my oh-so-perfect older sister. 

What did they say about these authors trying not to use info-dumps? I apologise profusely.

Also, a brother?! Well, that's the first time I hear of this and I have READ THE BOOKS BEFORE. So trust me when I say this - if Zoey's sister is mentioned twice, that'll be the only time we'll ever hear of her brother. And I am tempted to use a meme again.

Damn it! Ok, meme, you win:

Now that was being taken away from me, too. 
Wait is that? A protagonist complaining for NOT being able to live xir horrible life?! I don't even... WHERE DID THIS TROPE EVEN COME FROM?!

Seriously, correct me if I am wrong, but if you lived in a horrible and/or abusive environment and had to deal with awful and boring stuff all the time and then something/someone changes that, will your first reaction really be: 'Oh, gosh golly, I can't live out my extremely boring/horrible life?! I hate you, magical life-changer that all ordinary people dream about!' I mean, maybe it's just my genre-awareness speaking, but am I really the only one who thinks this is stupid?!

Anyway, Zoey rushes towards her car.

But I stopped short of going outside. Through the side-by-side windows in the institutional-looking doors I could see Heath. Girls flocked around him, posing and flipping their hair, while guys revved ridiculously big pickup trucks and tried (but mostly failed) to look cool. Doesn't it figure that I would choose that to be attracted to? No, to be fair to myself I should remember that Heath used to be incredibly sweet, and even now he had his moments. Mostly when he bothered to be sober. 

I actually like this. I mean it's a little stereotype-y, but every girl has had this moment, when she realizes that her crush is crap and she's like 'Oh, why do I have to be attracted to that guy?' Also, as someone who's read the other books, I can account to the fact that Heath is actually not at all a bad guy and him and Zoey have the only real connection, she has with any of the other boys she dates (well, not entirely, but... we'll get to that). Also, he is definitely somewhere in my top five characters.

Then we get some slut-shaming, which is very uncool in my book (ok, 'uncool' is a very weak word to describe how I feel about slut-shamimg, both in fiction AND in real life, but I am going to talk a lot about it throughout these series and I don't want to use-up my rage card, just yet).

Now Zoey is afraid of judgement over her scar, so she can't go past her almost-boyfriend and his clique to her car, because in high-school, having no nasty rumors about yourself floating around is more important than staying (literally) alive.

I just... no, I am not going to touch this one. Truth is, I stopped caring for what people say about me long time ago. Or I'd pick life, I don't know.

I already knew too well what they'd do. I remembered the last kid a Tracker had Chosen at SIHS. 
It happened at the beginning of the school year last year. The Tracker had come before school started and had targeted the kid as he was walking to his first hour. I didn't see the Tracker, but I did see the kid afterward, for just a second, after he dropped his books and ran out of the building, his new Mark glowing on his pale forehead and tears washing down his too white cheeks. I never forgot how crowded the halls had been that morning, and how everyone had backed away from him like he had the plague as he rushed to escape out the front doors of the school. I had been one of those kids who had backed out of his way and stared, even though I'd felt really sorry for him. I just hadn't wanted to be labeled as that-one-girl-who's-friends-with-those-freaks. Sort of ironic now, isn't it? 
No, not even tempted to go over all the aspects of elitism, stereotyping and typical not 'what-actually-happens-in-high-school', but 'what-everyone-who-isn't-in-high-school-thinks-happens-high-school' of that quote.

Or maybe it does happen. Maybe I am just more open-minded than most people. But it sucks. And our heroine sucks for buying into all of that bullshit. However, she is Marked now, so I guess this is her journey to enlightenment and open-mindedness? Well, let's see how that goes for her then.

Zoey goes to the bathroom and stares at her scar, feeling like she's looking at a stranger. Oh, hi, overused trope! I expected you back in next chapter, at least.

We also get a physical description of our narrator. Basically, she's pretty (but not too much), brunette and part Cherokee. Because it sounded exotic-enough, I guess? Ok, that's not fair, this actually plays a sort-of a part in the plot (also: I am not very familiar with the Cherokee culture, so I will not comment if it has been misrepresented here. I am just not competent enough).

From this day on my life would never be the same. And for a moment―just an instant―I forgot about the horror of not belonging and felt a shocking burst of pleasure, while deep inside of me the blood of my grandmother's people rejoiced. 

Even with the context from the other books, I am not really sure what this means, but I like it as an excerpt on it's own.

So, that my dear two readers, is chapter one from book one of the House of Night. Basically all that happens is that we meet one horrible character (that will be dropped very soon) and one semi-horrible one, who gets better, if memory serves. Oh, and a title drop. There's a lot of those.

I hope you like this re-cap and I guess I'll do another one soon, if I see any interest at all, The best way to that - comment!

                                                                                                 Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Hey, I am doing the deconstruction thing too!

 Hi. This is me. So I’ve seen a lot of people are doing book series deconstructions and it looks both really fun (though a bit painful) and since this is the perfect way to start uploading regularly to my blog - I decided why the hell not? The question was: which series are the perfect target?
50 shades is out of the question as so many people have said their piece, I really don’t think I have anything to add, not to mention I’d always plan this to be more YA-concerned blog. Same (even more so) goes for Twilight. I thought Divergent, since there’s a movie coming out next year, but really that’s a mostly good book (even though it definitely has flaws) so re-caps of that won’t be nearly as fun/painful. And then I figured it out: The House of Night series. These are both popular enough AND have upcoming movies. Also, I actually started out liking these series (though I was very young when I started reading them), even if I admitted that they had flaws, but now that I have been pointed out a few stuff I may need to take a better look. Anyway, I still don’t think they are the worst thing out there and I sort of had fun once around, so why not?
Now, I have very mix feelings of the series. but let’s start with:

The Good:
1. In these books have a way moire realistic take on teenagers. Finally! I love seeing YA lit, where teenagers swear, have sex and deal with things like drugs and eating disorders (well, kindda) and it’s fantasy! Cool!
2. Gay people - Again, I love to see the YA genre expanding and finally admitting the existence of queers. 
3. Original take on vampire-genre - If you have not heard of the House of Night it suffices to say that they didn’t took the Twilight route of brooding immortal monsters. Yes, the idea of supernaturals going to magical school  is not that new  (don’t expect me to be reading that any time soon, well unless I like the movie, so if there are similarities I won’t be commenting on them), but this one I believe is it’s own thing. Also, vampires (or vampyres as they are mortal) are  not monsters. They are good and very connected to nature etc.

The Bad:
1. The characters are really kind of two-dimensional (not 1D, but still not quite 3D either) and that distracts, because these books could’ve been amazing.
2. Very Sexist or all kinds of -ist characters. You’ll see what I mean later.
3. One of the biggest wish- fulfilment stories ever. Yeah, it’s bad, especially in the first book where the plot and the characters and pretty much anything is as fanficcy and cliched as possible. It’s a really bad Mary Sue saves all story. The good thing is the other books kind of fix that as we find that Zoey isn’t exactly perfect and all the characters are a bit more deep than that one dimension they are given at first.
4. Mary Sue-ism to the end. Book one mostly, but really throughout the series.
5. Atrocious pacing. Yeah, one book develops in a matter of days! DAYS!

Really, I don’t hate those books, I just think they could’ve been great and as they are now, they are mediocre at best. Re-caps will start sometime this week, :D but have in mind I most likely won’t be deconstructing the novellas. Also, I’ll be giving my ratings to each chapter and once I am done with one book, to the book as well. I wanted to do them twice a week, because there are a lot of books and the chapters aren’t incredibly long, but I am going to study in the UK, so I’ll be settling in for a while and I don’t think I’ll be able to do more than once a week. Hopefully (if I get traffic, especially) I’ll do them more often later on. =)