Monday, June 30, 2014

An Open Letter to YA Boys

Monday, June 30, 2014
Trigger Warning: This post does contain references to sexual assault

Dear Fictional YA Boys,

I know you think your determination is suave, but it isn't. You know what I mean by "determination," don't you? When that beautiful female protagonist turns you down, and you just know she doesn't mean it. All her "no" means is that you must continue to pursue her, to wear her down, so that you can be happy together.

I mean, you just know what she wants better than she does, right?

Here's the thing: if you were in the real world, endlessly pursuing a girl after she has rejected you isn't romantic. It's contributing to rape culture. When you don't listen to a girl's "no," when you take away her power to choose, you take away her autonomy.

And those super "sexy" things you do, like press up against her when she's at her locker, or kiss her even when she doesn't want to, may work out for you in your fictional world. The girl's body responds, revealing her true inner desires that she can't admit to herself! But in real life, that's assault, and the girl isn't going to realize she has really wanted you all along. Instead she'll probably feel disturbed, unsafe, distraught- the list could go on and on.

It doesn't matter how much you smoulder while you "seduce" her or how romanticized it seems- in reality, it's still assault. And it's unacceptable.

So, Fictional YA Boys, stop this. I promise you, you can still be romantic and swoon-worthy without disrespecting others.

A Tired Reader

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pride Day: LGBTQ+ YA

Sunday, June 29, 2014

It's Pride Day in NYC! In honor of that, here are a few LGBTQ+ books that I've been dying to read. (Hopefully I'll get to them this summer...keep your fingers crossed for me!)

Great by Sara Benincasa

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: April 8th, 2014 

Cool Factor: It's a Great Gatsby retelling (also, I like the author's Tumblr)

Side Note: My friend just bought this so I'll be stealing er, borrowing, it from her soon.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers

Release Date: September 16th, 2014


Otherbound by Corrine Duvyis

Publisher: Amulet Books

Release Date: June 17th, 2014

Grasshopper Jungle

Cool Factor: Sci-fi fantasy with princesses and romance and WHY HAVEN'T I READ THIS YET I MEAN I HAVE IT SITTING IN A BOOK STACK

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Release Date: February 11th, 2014 

Cool Factor: There's praying mantises come to the end the world or something? Sounds trippy and awesome.

Any LGBTQ+ Recs?


Have you read any of these books already? 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Feminist Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Friday, June 27, 2014
Tiger Lily
Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.
Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. 
Summary from Goodreads

The Quick of It: Tiger Lily is a beautifully woven tale with a dynamic cast and a compelling plot. Readers looking for romance will be enthralled (I definitely was), but what makes it so special is the way Anderson creates a heartbreaking fairy tale while addressing everything from colonialism to family to gender.

"For the girls with messy hair and thirsty hearts.” 

Demerits: None! Tiger Lily is exemplary, though on the ARC cover I have, there is a picture of a Caucasian girl, who the reader would presume is Tiger Lily (even though she isn't white). Since I haven't seen this cover anywhere else - I'm not sure it has ever been used, except perhaps on ARCs - I won't give it a Whitewashing demerit. 

Making the Grade
The characters in this novel are familiar and new all at once. You have your old favorites- Peter, Tink, Tiger Lily- but with layers of depth not seen in the original tale. And then there are the new members of the cast. Not only do you have characters of color, but Tik Tok (the shaman) isn't defined by one gender. Neither he nor Tiger Lily fit into their assigned gender roles, and the novel raises many questions about the importance of gender, its construction, and even how Western society influences it. I won't say more than that because, you know, spoilers, but even as you're swept up in the magic of Neverland, this book will make you think.

"She thought of Tik Tok, who was fond of saying that people were all bits of each thing, boy and girl."

As for the friendship, I loved Tink and Tiger Lily's relationship throughout the novel. Even though Tink is in love with Peter, and Peter is in love with Tiger Lily, Tink is still fiercely protective of Tiger Lily. She doesn't buy into the girl-on-girl competition trope that is all-too-common in stories, so that's awesome. I mean, just the fact that Tink narrates the story and is finally given a voice is phenomenal and I will never, EVER look at Tinker Bell the same way again. 

As for Tiger Lily herself, I've never read about a character quite like her. She's wholly unique and blurs the lines of good and bad. She's a jumble of things - stoic, passionate, loyal, selfish, brave, insecure - but never boring, that's for sure. I honestly wish I could dive back into her world for just a few more pages.

Final Grade: A 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Changing Things Up!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
So, June 16th was my third blogoversary. Per tradition, I didn't have anything prepared, but I've been slacking on the blog in general lately, so that wasn't too surprising.

Why have I been slacking?

Well, besides the craziness of my last weeks of high school, I was kind of tired of writing reviews. I still wanted to discuss what I did and did not like about books, but not in the way I was reviewing them. And honestly, this makes sense- just as my blog has grown in the past three years, so have I, so why was I sticking to the same-old-same-old?

That said, it's time to change things up.

Considering I'll be entering Lafayette College this fall as a Government and Women's & Gender Studies major, not an English major like I'd always planned, I'm adjusting my reviews to fit these interests (well, at least the WGS part). From now on, my book reviews will be from a feminist viewpoint. This doesn't mean I won't discuss the basics, like plot and characters and all that, but I won't be devoting as much time to them.

Instead, I'll focusing on questions like: Is there female representation in the novel? Is there diverse representation (meaning, are there POC, LGBT characters, etc.)? Do the female characters suffer at the hands of sexist tropes?

And I have these cute little marks to guide me. If you can think of any others, let me know!


Is a character a joke because of her weight? Does a character only reach her full potential because she loses weight? Does a character (one we're supposed to root for) look down on other girls because of their weight? Not acceptable.

Is a female character made into a plot point for the male character's benefit? (More on my feelings about Manic Pixie Dream Girls here.)

Does a male character continue to pursue a female character, even after she has said no? This is rape culture- not romantic.

Does the female protagonist pride herself on "not being like other girls"? What's wrong with other girls? Sounds like girl-on-girl hate to me.

Is a character shamed because of her choice to be abstinent? Not cool- her body, her choices.

Is a character shamed because of her choice to be sexually active? Not cool- her body, her choices.

Does a female character get offed to further the male character's plot? Calling a foul.

Is there a POC protagonist, but a white girl on the cover? Is there an obvious lack of POC characters? C'mon.

Making the Grade

Are there characters of color? LGBT characters? Are they fully fleshed-out (i.e. NOT one-dimensional stereotypes)?

Are there female friendships in the novel? And, in the spirit of the Bechdel test, do they talk about something other than boys?


For those special books that go above and beyond in the feminism department.
Of course, the demerits especially will be applied in context. What do I mean by that? Well, for example, I'm not going to criticize a book for fat shaming if in a YA Contemporary novel the school bully is making fun of someone's weight. That's part of their characterization. I will criticize a book for fat shaming if a character we're supposed to root for does it and it's "supposed to be" justified. Know what I mean? (If not, it'll be clearer in my reviews, I promise.)

Anyway. That's what's going to be happening here on The Page Sage. What's up with you guys? Let me know in the comments what you think about this new review plan and what's been going on in your bookish lives!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

TFIOS Movie Premiere: It Makes Me Sad

Wednesday, June 4, 2014
At ten o'clock tomorrow night, instead of going to my senior prom, I will be sitting in a movie theater with two of my closest friends watching the premiere of The Fault in our Stars, and just typing that makes me positively giddy.

I mean, I am READY for this premiere. I have my TFIOS preparedness kit, my TFIOS t-shirt, and my two copies of TFIOS (the unsigned version of which I am currently rereading). We're getting dinner beforehand, and I know it's going to be a fantastic night.

But I'm also feeling a bit sad.

For years, I've loved being apart of the nerdfighter community. John and Hank's videos never cease to be inspiring or educational or happy-making (if that isn't a word, it is now). And John's books have affected me in ways that are very personal- personal enough that I wouldn't go into detail with my best friends, let alone with a bloggy audience (no matter how much I love you guys, which is a lot). 

And because I'm such a huge fan, I think it's AWESOME that John's books are getting so much attention (even if it lowers my chances of ever getting my copies of Paper Towns or Looking for Alaska signed). I mean, it's great that the nerdfighter community is growing and that more people will benefit from Hank and John's creativity and wisdom. But, this is also where the sadness comes in.

There's a quote in The Fault in our Stars, where Hazel talks about her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction. She says, "Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are book which you can't tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.” I've never felt as though John Green's books, or my love for them, were some kind of secret only I knew about, but they were somewhat personal. At its least personal, it was a shared love among a small group of my closest friends, and a cool, quirky internet community.

"Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book."
"And then there are books which you can’t tell people about. Books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like betrayal."
— Hazel Grace (The Fault in Our Stars)
Source: marinanumberseven
But now, John's books and vlogbrothers are bigger and it feels a little less mine. I realize how selfish that sounds, and so I just want to clarify that I don't mean new fans aren't welcome- new fans are GREAT! 

It just feels like I'm losing something, or maybe that's just change. Or maybe I've eaten too much chocolate and I'm rereading TFIOS and I'm graduating high school and I just have all these FEELINGS and don't know what to do with them so I'm melodramatically channeling them towards this premiere.

Anyway. I am more than excited to go to the movie and I'm thrilled for John and all of his well-deserved success and I'm overjoyed that so many people will get to appreciate this beautiful, wonderful, touching story. 

But like with any change, it's all a bit melancholy.