when people start trash talkin your favorite female character
when people start trash talkin your favorite female character
It’s been a while since I read a proper novel. Most of my time this year and last was spent poring over required readings; I can’t even remember the last time I finished anything that was not a required reading.
Over the mid-year break, I realized how much my writing has become so blah, so I decided to brush up by reading and began with Mortal Engines, a novel that’s been suggested to me a long time ago by galateas/Olivia. It’s a good fortune I found it in Book Sale for only P35.
I started last week, planning on reading it slowly, but there was a typhoon, and we didn’t have electricity for four days, so I went through Mortal Engines quickly with a candle by my side.
And it’s really, really good.
If it wasn’t obvious earlier in the story that traction cities are a metaphor for colonialism and imperialism, it becomes much clearer in Part Two. And the narrative is quick to present it as destructive – none of “maybe it’s not that bad” but a lot of “this is destroying people and that’s really bad.” The people of London may see Municipal Darwinism as natural, but we as readers are supposed to see it as unnatural. The concept of imperialism is defamiliarized by the narrative through this, a necessity since most people – especially those coming from first-world countries – cannot see the negative effects of imperialism – they don’t even question how they became first-world countries in the first place. Reeve presents imperialism as great, monstrous cities that eat prey of smaller cities and static (“barbaric”) settlements, literally destroying and ripping them apart and enslaving the inhabitants.
London then seeks a new “hunting ground” as fresh resource – the land beyond Shan Guo. Crome’s statement about it to Valentine is almost word-for-word in every post-colonial text discussing imperialism: Imperialists don’t see other places as places where people live but as places to be dominated, where resources can be taken. Even the Guild of Historians, who don’t want to side with the Engineers, are far more concerned with the artifacts in Batmunkh Gonpa, which aggravated Katherine. “Think of the people!” she told them. (If people dealt with privilege the way Katherine did, the world will be a better place, to be honest.)
Then, there are tiers. Tiers represent the social hierarchy in London. The Gut “was staffed by workers from the lower tiers, who were dirty and frightening, and convicts from the Deep Gut Prisons, who were worse.” To be honest, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this kind of social commentary is present with regards to an imperialistic setting. There is, after all, a connection between with this and imperialism; I’d gander that most people living in the lower tiers are previous inhabitants of eaten towns and settlements - most, at least - though I don’t think it was explicitly stated.
I’d like to point out Valentine’s “long brown hand clutching the staff” and the fact that’s it’s more evidence of Hester and Katherine, the main girls in the story, being non-white, and the fact that the main propellers of actions in the story are these girls is a very big deal.
I’ve also finished with Predator’s Gold and begun with Infernal Devices, and I noticed that the typical hero tropes and actions are given to the girls, and mostly Hester. Katherine made the move against the system; Hester had the revenge plot. Freya and Hester sought Tom, the good-looking character; Hester is the ugly one; Hester and to an extent Freya are the morally ambiguous ones. In actions, Tom usually waited around somewhere - an airship or a museum - while Hester does her thing.
And I mentioned this back then - Hester being ugly is a great thing for young adult readers. When has a female lead ever allowed to be ugly and loved? This is the first time I’ve seen a bad-ass female character who is canonically described as ugly, so ugly others physically wince at the sight of her. She is described as such almost every time she appears, in case you forget. She is the opposite of the Strong Female Character TM that so pervades media today, the bad-ass chick who is also sexy so you can objectify her if you get tired of her being so important, just like a man!
Hester Shaw is very important.
Tom and Hester killed me. Their type of relation dynamic is my weakness, the type that reminds me of Artemis fowl and Holly Short, where two people of different nature are forced to work with each other until they grow in love and friendship. Do I ship it? Of course I do. My favorite scenes are 1.) when he bought her a new red scarf, 2.) that hug over Shan Guo, 3.) Tom insisting he’d come back to pick her up, despite her saying she’d be dead.
"I’ll circle the city for twenty minutes and then come in and pick you up," Tom was saying. "That should give you time to find Valentine and…"
"I’ll be dead in twenty minutes, Tom," she said. "Just get yourself safe away. Forget about me."
"I’ll circle back…"
"I’ll be dead."
"I’ll circle back anyway…"
"There’s no point, Tom."
"I’ll circle back and pick you up."
She looked at him and saw tears shining in his eyes. He was crying. He was crying for her, because she was going into danger and he would not see her again, and she thought it was strange that he cared about her that much, and very sweet. She said, “Tom, I wish.. .” and, “Tom, if I…” and other little broken bits of sentences that petered out in silence, because she didn’t even know herself what she was trying to say, only that she wanted him to know that he was the best thing that had happened to her.
And 4.) the last scene.
"You aren’t a hero, and I’m not beautiful, and we probably won’t live happily ever after," she said. "But we’re alive, and together, and we’re going to be all right."
I only just saw this but I’m yelling!!!!
i can’t stop thinking about how the only reason that the fire nation didn’t manage to conquer and destroy the world is because katara flipped a shit on her brother for making a sexist comment and stumbled upon aang in the iceberg