These days it isn’t much of an hot take to call Bella Swan of Twilight unlikable. At this point it is pretty much excepted across the board but as I go back and reread the Twilight series for our Pop Cultural Homework I am reminded how unlikable her character is from the very first chapter. We meet Bella as she moves from Phoenix to Forks. Every thing she says about Forks drips with condensation and disdain. She talks as she is being punished and going into exile even though she is the one who chose to do this so her Mom can travel more easily with her new husband. She laments the fact that she’ll miss the sun and wonders how anyone can possibly live here. She goes on and on about how awful school is going to be because these small kids are just going to gawk at her big cityness. Girl get over yourself. You’re from Phoenix not Los Angeles. She dismisses everyone who says anything kind or encouraging to her living here. Every single person she encounters on her first day is nothing but kind to her and yet she can’t be bothered to acknowledge them. She doesn’t bother to learn any of their names or follow along with the conversation. She only decides to take part on the discussion to ask about the Cullens and once she gets her answers she tunes everyone out again. No wonder she and Edward are meant for each other because they are both so wrapped up in their own self absorption that they don’t have room for anyone else to exist. I know Kate and I will go more into this and more with our reviews but yeah I just really can’t get over Bella here. How did I read this series over and over again and not want to throw the book across the room?
As you an see my reread is going great? How are you all doing? Years removed from your first reading, what strikes you the most about Twilight now?
This book was stressful from the beginning. I mean that in a good way. From the prologue to the epilogue it is none stop from beginning to end. The setting is a sort of old style wild west world. The girls of this world don’t have autonomy. It’s a rough world and for many families the best thing they can do for their daughters is sell them to the Welcome Houses where they will be feed and sheltered and that is why they are called Good Luck Girls because for many it seen as good luck to work in one of these houses and to be taken care of. In reality though they are being sold into sex slavery. It’s billed as a cross between West World and The Handmaid’s tale. I haven’t seen the former but I know the latter and yeah I can see some similarities. Clementine’s first night as a Sundown girl doesn’t go as planned when she kills her first brag. Her sister Aster leads her and her friends Tansy, Mallow and Violet on an escape but that is just as dangerous as the life they left. With the help from rangeman, Zee they fight their way through the wild terrain. They take some of the power back by robbing the kind of men that used to visit the Welcome Houses to get enough money to remove the favors from their bodies. It’s a powerful statement on how they work together. I thought this was a standalone book but it’s at least a duology as there is a planned sequel. To say I enjoyed it is probably the wrong thing to say because it’s not a pleasant read. What these women go through and have been through is horrifying but also gratifying to see them fight back. I look forward to see what happens next to these ladies as they continue to fight for their freedom and the freedom of others like them.
**POSSIBLE SPOILERS** Fans of Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy knows that it ended on a bittersweet note. Our heroes June and Day save the Republic and live to tell the tale but don’t end up together. The illness that Day suffers gave him amnesia and he doesn’t he remember who June is. June for her part, promises that if Day pulls through she will let him live in peace. So Day takes his brother, Eden, to the technological advanced country of Antarctica to get away from the Republic and give his brother best education. June stays to help the new Elector reshape and rebuild the Republic. The Epilogue of Champion left readers with hope that one day June and Day will one day end up together and Rebel answers that questions. As well as to what happened with the Republic and Eden. Rebel picks up about a month after the Epilogue, which took place 10 years after the events of the Legend trilogy. Eden is a top student at Antarctica’s top university and is about to graduate with his Masters and will soon return to the Republic for a prestigious internship. Thanks to Day’s heroics, Eden and Day are afforded to live in the luxury and all the benefits that go with it. Day, who now goes by his real name of Daniel works for the AIS, Antarctic Intelligence Service. Daniel has been investigating the mob boss Dominic Hann in the Undercity. Ross City the capital city of Antarctica is split in to two parts, the Undercity and the Sky floors. Citizens are live in a kind of gamified society, in which every action they do are given points. The more points citizens earn the higher level they are the higher level they are the more opportunities they have. The levels determined where they can live, where they can work and even what food and medicine they access too. The system is supposed to inspire people to make the right decisions and work hard. The better and harder they work they more points they earn and the more opportunities they earn but in reality it hard for those with low levels to move up. If you are limited in what food you can buy and because of that left hungry. How are you going to have the energy to work harder? If you are sick but your level doesn’t allow you to see certain doctors or get the right medicine, how can you expect to get better? Eden and Day see the Undercity and it’s unfairness as reminders of how they lived in the Republic but react to it different. Eden is drawn to it, while Day tries to avoid it even though his job requires him to work down there. It’s no surprise that Eden gets caught up with Dominic Hann, the same man that Daniel has been investigating and that’s really where the story picks up. This also coincidentally is when June, the Elector and the Republic delegation visit Ross City. Daniel has slowly been recovering his memories of June since their chance meeting with her in the Epilogue. He remembers how much he was in love with her and even though the last decade he didn’t remember her he never took off the paper clip ring she gave him. So really deep down he never stop loving her but does she still love him? It’s been 10 years and they have both grown up and changed and had other relationships. Can they just pick up where they left off? Well, not really because chaos once again strikes and they are retreating back to the Republic.
While we still don’t know what happened that split the US into pieces and how or when people settled in Antarctica, we do know that change is slow and really there isn’t a perfect form of government. We learn from June that while the Republic has improved and is rebuilding but that costs money and you will always have those who will want to go back to what they are familiar with. Meanwhile, the gamified society of Ross City seems like a fair solution, that we are all rewarded and penalized for our actions because we don’t all start at the same point it makes it hard for people to move up. More importantly when you treat half of your population with contempt and just assume that they are lazy and that is why they stay at such low levels, well you’re going to have trouble. What makes a good villain is that you might agree with them. There is a reason after all why Eric Killmonger is the best Marvel Villain because he wasn’t wrong. He was absolutely right that Wakanda was wrong for their continuous isolationist policy. It’s how he went about it that was wrong. Nakia argued the same thing but proposed a different method of going about it and that is what T’Challa ultimately went with. Hann is also not wrong that the system that Antarctica wasn’t the fair system it was presented as but he’s solution wasn’t the way to go about it either. Eden, Daniel and June once again come to the rescue and save another nation from ruin. For us readers, it gives us the ending that we truly wanted for our characters and gave closure to a fantastic series. I’m glad that Marie Lu decided to write it because it was a fun read. For me it hit all the right notes of the original trilogy and gave a satisfied ending. There are still many questions left open as to how Antarctica and the Republic will move forward but you do have to hope that they both took lessons in what each nation has gone through and learn from it.
This was a satisfying series. Mirabella, Arsinoe, Katherine, Jules and Emilia have gone through a lot in the last four books and for the most part, I’m okay with how it ends The ruthlessness of how Kendare Blake wrote her story really brought up the tension. I think I always knew that some of the girls would not make it to the end. After all from the beginning two of the three sisters were supposed to do die to allow one sister to ascend to the crown. So it wasn’t a surprised that two of our queens did not make it to the end. At least one of them, I was really said about, almost as sad as the characters themselves and a little annoyed that another succeeded but that’s life I guess. Katherine and Arsinoe both had the biggest character growths of all the characters. Katherine went for a weak Queen who was nothing more then a puppet to the Arron’s who raised her. Thanks to the Dead Queens that saved her life and possessed her helped her grow into a fearsome Queen who was to be feared but also confident in her own decisions. There was some kind of peace in her as she understood her role in how it was all going to end. In a way, as the book progressed she was only one who knew it. Arisone, started out also weak and wanting nothing to do with being a Queen. Her original plan was just run away but she eventual learned you can’t escape your issues and excepted her role. She may never want to take a role of leadership but she is also no longer shying away from who she is and what she had to do to get there. Mirabella pretty much stayed the same and it was kind of her downfall. She always believed that her love for her sisters and their love for her would be enough to get them through. If they were going to defeat the mist and the Dead Queens, they needed to do it together. In a way she was right, just not as she imagined. Jules is still not my favorite character but she was better in this one. Maybe because the story focused more on Katherine, Arisone and Mirabella then her and because of the events of past books, she was a little more subdued. All in all, it was a very interesting and engrossing story. A feminist fantasy about a Matriarchy society filled with all the social and political intrigue of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. The book is populated with strong women, who are complicated and nuanced. None of them are perfect and all do questionable things but most importantly that were allowed too be. They were the damsels in distress and the villainess. They were the heroes and the bad guys. Yes, there were romances but they were subplots and not central to the narratives. In the end the sisters prevailed because of their own skills and strengths and the skills of strengths on their friends. They controlled the story and their destiny. They saved themselves. We need more books and series like this.
Fans of the Red Queen series should devour this short story collection. Even if they have already read the two previously released short stories, it is still worth the read. Broken Throne is gives more insight into the world building that author Victoria Aveyard did to create her series. Historical notes by Julian is the perfect way to go deep into how Norta, Montefort, Lakelands, Piedmont and neighboring countries came to be and gives perspective on where they are now. In between the history lessons are short stories, new and old, set in this world that focuses on supporting characters or backstory. The story that fans will probably be the most interested in reading is Fire Light. Fans who were left a little disappointed on how Mare left thing with Cal at the end of War Storm will get some closure in this story. Mare and Cal have been through a lot. They have both done things to others and to each other that they can’t take back. They both needed time to heal from everything that has happened and accessed who they are now and not who they were before they meant. Can they forgive each other? Can they forgive themselves? It was a sweet story that wraps up their story nicely. While I think this was a wrap of the series but I think there is a lot here for more book set in this universe. The Nortan states push towards a representative government is rocky and the epilogue mentions further drama that could easily be turned into a series. There are a few countries that were mentioned but we haven’t been that could be explored. Not to mention, as more and more Reds turn out to be New bloods, there could be so many more stories about them and how that plays out in the world. So what I’m saying, I don’t think we have seen the last of Norta or the Lakelands or Montefort or the last of Mare, Cal, Evageline, Iris, Farley and the other characters either. Whenever Victoria is ready to come back she should know I’ll be waiting.