Jul. 30th, 2011 05:48 pm
reviewthat: (Books: I Write Like a MoFo)
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Book: Green
By: Jay Lake
Pages: 368
Release Date: June 9, 2009 (hardback) and February 15, 2011 (paperback)
Stars: 1

Here we have the story of a girl who is bought from her father by a foreigner who takes her to a school so that she can be brought to possibly be chosen to be the cortisone for a duke. She spend several years there being taught how to be a "lady", while being beaten for having any sort of thoughts of her own. By the time that she is about twelve, she kills the woman who is in charge of her schooling, and runs away. She then becomes a sort of warrior monk, but is cast out when she helps one of her former teachers not be murdered in a mob. And as part of her punishment, she is forced to go back to the city where she had been held captive and taught to be the perfect lover to a duke.

Of all of the directions that this book have gone, it seemed to have lost focus once Green (the name that the main character took for herself) killed her teacher and decided that she was going to leave the Pomegranate Court (the name of the place where she had been held captive). There seemed to be no purpose to anything that happened ... no direction, or reason for anything that she actually did. And by the time that she left the Pomegranate Court, I stopped really caring what happened to her. What the author could have done was turn this story into one of a girl who had been sold into slavery, and who had the potential of being forced into a life of a powerful man's sex toy, who turned things around and not only freed herself, but also freed the other girls who were in the same predicament that she was in. This could have been a story about perseverance, freedom and community. But it wasn't. Instead, what we are left with is a story of misogyny and xenophobia. Things happen to the few men that we meet who are directly responsible for the horrible things that happened early in Green's life ... but there is no real resolution ... no sense of justice for all of the years of misery that they caused. It seemed to just be accepted that what they did happened, and there was no sense that they should be held accountable for their actions (as though there was nothing at all offensive or wrong about anything that they did).

And what makes the book far more creepy and unsettling is the fact that the author dedicated this book to his daughter, and there is an overpowering theme of what is borderline sexual abuse. It starts off with Green finding out that she is potentially going to have a man who is hundreds of years older than her force her into having sex with him, where she has to just take it (whether she wants it or not). When she finally gets away, she not only starts up relationships with other girls who are potential priestesses of a goddess, which wouldn't necessarily mean anything (even though she starts a bit young (around twelve or thirteen)), but she also starts having relationships with elder priestesses. These women are all given an honorific title of "mother". This gives Green's relationship an extra layer of creepiness; the use of the word "mother" for these women who are replacement parental figures adds a layer of abuse. It goes even further when after Green kills someone, she almost immediately participates in some SM with other girls in the temple, and when she is being held prisoner with one of her original teachers, the two of them begin having a sexual encounter. It's as if the author has no idea what a healthy sexual relationship is, and the only thing he knows anything about is abuse.

Added to that is what is an undercurrent of homophobia against gay men; lesbians, however, seem to have taken root inside the writer's mind as being completely hot. Anytime there is a male character that the author hints might be gay, he is treated with contempt by Green, or he is called names like "fop" and "dandy". Whether or not the writer intended these terms to be derogatory, the way in which they are used was rather insulting.

On top of the homophobia is a definite sense of xenophobia. Anytime the main character comes across someone who has paler skin than she does, she compares their skin color to that of maggots. And there is a race of people within the story who are anamorphic, and who are constantly treated with mistrust and hate. Sure, this happens in the real world, but there seemed to be no point to this, or even a message about attempting to get along with other people because it makes for a better world. It was only there and pointless.

All in all, I'd say completely skip this one. You'll be much happier about this if you do.


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December 2011


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