Here we go. It’s been a while but I have more, unfortunately. And this has a few things about reviewers that irks me especially when they review books. So let’s begin.
I am going to start this with Aurora Rising. I know it’s been a popular one from 2019 but there’s an issue. Or issues. And one is before the 100 page mark. And that is this.
There was no need for the half Chinese comment. I can assure you that PoC do NOT think like that. At all. I never look at a really pale person and think “ah. She’s too white. And not in the way like I’m brown and she’s not. But her skin was far too pale.” I’ve never thought that and I can assure you, hardly anyone that’s a PoC has. It’s not natural for that to be the first thought in your mind when you see someone. Another thing I’ll add to the first, a genuine question/observation. Aurora does not seem like a PoC or half Chinese on the cover of the book to me. I’m not sure if that’s just my observation but it actually came as a shock to me when I read the book and found she was half Chinese.
The second issue is one with reviewers. If you are reviewing a book, please make sure you do not reduce the rating because of your lack of understanding on a certain culture or subject. I’m not going to pick up a book on Chinese cultures and give it 2 stars because I was very confused about the festivals etc. It is not an author’s job to describe a religion or culture that already exists or even educate you on it. I say this because of 2 instances (that I know of.)
My So-Called Bollywood Life. It was an amazing contemporary with so many references to movies that I watched whilst growing up, and I loved it. And if you know anything about Hindus, it’s that astrology is a major aspect. The Pandit (priest) in the book is a part of the religion. Furthermore, if you know anything about bollywood, it’s the huge emphasis on drama. Every scene is pretty much OTT (over-the-top) from the fighting to the dramatic delivery of lines. So, just by looking at the title and reading the blurb, 2 things should be clear. One, the book will be leaning towards overly-dramatic. Two, religion will play a big role in the book. And both are true. However. I read a review that gave it a low rating for being overly dramatic. And even went so far as to state that the elements of fantasy (ie the predictions of the Pandit and astrology) were an odd but nice addition. This screamed ignorance, especially since I felt the author did a decent job of explaining the religion in the book (which she had NO obligation to add), and even if it wasn’t clear, it’s really not hard to check up a few things on the internet. It could take 5, maybe 10, minutes. And if some of you think, “but what if I never learned about this religion or culture?”. Well, firstly, it’s not the author’s job to teach you about it since you’re not reading a non-fiction book on said religion and culture. And if you don’t know about something, does not give you free reign to make assumptions. It’s not nice and is very much offensive to people who follow the religion/culture. Especially when you call it “fantasy”.
City of Brass is a popular favourite amongst readers and yet, whenever I read a low rating on the book, one thing consistently seems to show up. Alizayd al Qahtani (one of the MCs) and how it wasn’t “accurate” or even a “fair” depiction of treatment. I can tell you without a doubt that it is accurate and it does happen. Like every religion, there are a very different number of Muslims across the globe. Those who practice and those who don’t. Not to mention the many sects that come under the religion, who all have their own cultures or traditions tied into their practices. Me and my family abandoned our culture in favour of just practising what is taught in the religion and our treatment was exactly like that of Alizayd, by friends and family alike. According to them, we thought we were better, we needed to loosen up, we needed to celebrate certain extra holidays. So my tip for you is, if you do not think it is accurate, doesn’t mean it isn’t accurate. Furthermore, just talk to a few people. I can assure you no Muslim (or anyone else that’s POC) will ever think less of you. Hell, we’d love it if you took the time to understand better! And I can assure you, City of Brass is a perfect read for accurately depicting the different types of Muslims.
To end this second point, here is a summary. Never assume anything! Always take the time to make sure you know what you’re reading and to ascertain it’s accuracy!
I feel like this has been a long post so I’ll end this here, but hopefully (or rather unfortunately), I’m sure I’ll be back with more.