Book Review – ink

ink – Alice Broadway
Genre – Teen/Fantasy
Excitable Rating – 7/10

This book reads almost like a fairytale, around which much of its plot actually revolves, and is also why the genre I’ve chosen is Teen rather than YA.  While I think older readers will enjoy this book it’s totally suitable for readers as young as 12 (or younger if advanced readers).

ink is set in the town of Saintstone, of undisclosed location (fairytale!), in which everyone gets regular tattoos cataloguing their lives both government issued ones and personal – SO AWESOME! Broadway has created a society in which everything in a person’s life is inked onto their skin.  The narrative is told through the eyes of teen on the cusp of adulthood Leora, whose father has just passed away; though this is not something considered so terrible in Saintstone as the aforementioned catalogue of tattoos are flayed from the body and bound into a Skin Book (slightly eww but also cool?) which the family keeps so they can forever read the story of their relative and they therefore won’t be forgotten.

As the book begins with Leora as a teen moving into adulthood, we initially see this world through the naive eyes of a child and as the narrative progresses more of the drawbacks of a government able to permanently view of all of your life choices becomes apparent.  Leora’s complete indoctrination into her society’s beliefs at the beginning of the narrative being slowly stripped away as she grapples with grief for the loss of her father and fear of him being forgotten is a powerful way of talking about mortality and also how much control government’s should have over their citizens.

All fairytales must have a villain, in ink there are the blanks.  These are people without tattoos, to Leora terrifying creatures of nightmare from her bedtime stories; to the reader they are the Katniss Everdeens and Tris Priors – people who refuse to be categorised and controlled.  Broadway’s subversion of this by giving us a viewpoint from within the confines of the society rather than as an Outsider makes for an exciting read.

 

Exciting Features:

  • Female lead who has stretch marks and talks about having stretch marks!
  • Includes sections of fairytales from their culture, though they have a slightly more Brothers Grimm than Disney feel to them.
  • Tattoos can be “read”, Leora has this gift and can read the story behind a person’s tattoo
  • No distracting lovey-dovey stuff, just some mild crushing. No dystopian earth-shattering obstacle-conquering love here my friends (refreshing, no?)

I could talk about this book quite a lot.  If you too, like me, enjoy a bit of dystopia mixed up with some fairytale with a smattering of kick-ass tattoos then you shall also rather enjoy this book!

 – There is no picture for this post purely because I lent the book to a colleague as soon as I finished it! –

Thanks for reading!
~ The Excitable Feminist

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Film Review – Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange (Marvel Cinematic Universe) – Directed by Scott Derrickson
Genre – Fantasy
Excitable Rating – 4/10

First of all does anyone else feel a little bit of typecasting is occurring with good ol’ Benny Cumberbatch as the obsessive, arrogant hyper-intelligent type..? **cough** Sherlock **cough** Alan Turing **cough**

I can’t really decide if I liked this film; was it enjoyable in an unsurprising generic plot kind of way – like a comfortable old jumper you’ve worn a thousand times – or was it just pretty much meh?*

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as our lead Doctor Strange, who’s this super awesome neuro-surgeon running about saving people… Although only the cases which he feels are worthy of his time i.e. the most complicated ones. Which in my opinion makes him a pretty shitty doctor.

Rachel MacAdams is Christine, the “Love Interest”, there to be the balm to soothe our hero’s troubled soul but they made her a doctor too not a nurse so it’s totes not sexist.  Christine seemed pretty cool to me, and MacAdams played the role well she just had an absolutely rubbish amount of screen time and next to no development or back story. Like why is this totally awesome Doctor fawning about after this arrogant asshole Steven Strange?!?!?

Tilda Swinton is The Ancient One.  Now this character I am well aware caused a veritable shit storm on the internet when it was announced that Hollywood would once again be white-washing a character who was originally Asian in the comics, which filled me with rage so much that I only watched this film as it was a gift not one I purchased myself.  After watching the film I do understand, sort of (bare with me please), what the studio was attempting here.  I suspect the aim was to move away from the stereotype of the wise old Asian guy (which is offensive) and give the lead of a powerful organisation to a Woman.  Though they then picked the androgynous actor Swinton – thus removing any overtly sexual or feminine element from the female character therefore making her entirely less threatening to male audiences as a representation of Female Power. In conclusion I respect what they were trying to do but they pretty much epically failed.  (the role could just of easily been given to an Asian woman)

Stylistically I really like the film, the geometric design of the spells and the mirror dimension were very cool.  The plot was a little flat for me, but again this was definitely a film to give us background info for when Strange is introduced in a later Marvel Pantheon movie (probably Infinity War).

Overall it was not totally awful, Marvel just let me down once again in its under-representation of well-rounded female characters and with its love of whitewashing.

Thanks for reading!
~ The Excitable Feminist

*Meh: meaning un-noteworthy verging on a bit shit.

Book Review – The Tiger and The Wolf

The Tiger and The Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Genre – Fantasy
Excitable rating – 7/10

So this is your pretty classic pre-medieval fantasy world.  With a pretty interesting twist; that all Peoples of this world are born into tribes or groups that have sort-of animal totems, which they can then turn into, they call this Stepping.  Cool right?  So hence the title as you have the tiger people and the wolf as just two examples.

Tchaikovsky starts us off up in the ‘Crown of the World’ a swathe of land in the north of this world covered by dense forest – here is where you have the Wolf Tribe which is the dominant tribe/species.  Under the wolf you also have animals such as deer and boar who are like lesser members of society.  In the wolf tribe we meet Maniye (please don’t ask me how to pronounce this), sixteen year old daughter of the Chief of the Winter Runners – all the wolf tribes have pretty snazzy names like this Moon Eaters, Swift Backs etc.  She’s an outcast in her own tribe due to her parentage, her mother was of the Tiger.  Her story is moved into action by the capture of a Snake priest by her tribe at the time of her initiation into adulthood – an incident which motivates her to steal the priest away and abandon her life as she knows it.  Maniye is a really interesting character you follow her from this rather terrified but determined little wolf girl to her emergence at the other end of the novel as a force to be reckoned with.

The novel is split into two main perspectives, Maniye is the first.  Asmander is the second.  Asmander is of the ‘Sun River Nation’ in the south of the world, and his animal soul is that of the crocodile.  He’s on a mission to the north to find an army to support the Prince of his lands to become Kasra (King/Emperor).  He also has this awesome other soul called the Champion which I won’t reveal too much about other than it’s a really unusual feature in a fantasy novel of this kind.  As he travels North he acquires a Hyena girl named Shyri who is excellent.  Quick-witted and sharp-tongued, though maybe a little too moon-eyed at Asmander occasionally for my liking.  More Shyri and Hyena women in general (their society is a matriarchy) in the next book please!

Maniye becomes the driving force behind everything that happens in the Crown of the World throughout the narrative, though the entire novel is much more of a staging ground for the series rather than a resolution.  Prepare yourself for wanting to read more.

Exciting Features:

  • Lots of different cultures and societies including quite a few which are female led
  • The inclusion of a huge range of animals. Komodo Dragons! Bears! Eagles! Coyotes!
  • Rich history, this world has SO much more going on in it that we don’t know yet but Tchaikovsky is doing that thing where you know they have more but he’s holding it back. RUDE.
  • They can learn to Step and take items with them – so no naked people all the time if that’s what you’re looking for this is the wrong book for you – except for iron unless they have been trained. This means cool weapons like jade and bronze blades.

 

Basically this book awakened the Excitable Feminist in me quite considerably and I hope it’s a series whose fanbase continues to grow!

Thanks for reading

~ The Excitable Feminist

 

 

 

 

The Unoriginal ‘Why I’m Doing This’ Post

This is going to be the classic ‘why I started this blog’ post.  There are of course a multitude of reasons, is there ever just one reason for someone doing something? Probably. The main one though is that I bloody well wanted to… that and to give my poor friends and family a break from the incessant feminist ramblings which I spew forth.  Hence the need for this blog; which shall be the receptacle for my thoughts and views on things from the films I watch to feminist theory I read.  I may even take some of those nice photos of the books I’m reading when I review them because #aesthetic.  Feminism as an ever-evolving theory and ideal is therefore something that I will probably get ‘wrong’ sometimes so please excuse me if you feel I’ve fucked up royally.  I’d really appreciate it that if people notice anything like that to just notify me, I don’t ever want to stop learning and I would never say I’m fully educated in any area of feminism… other than possibly the feminism I employ in my own day-to-day life (even then it’s a stretch).

I am a peelly-wally (read: hella pale) 22 year-old from the Highlands of Scotland, I’m a graduate of Literature and I work in a bookshop – sensing a theme yet? I travel sometimes, but mainly I read a lot and when I’m not reading I watch a range of TV shows or I’m down the pub. 

Ultimately what I would like to gain from this blog is an improvement in my writing skills and to just enjoy myself…

Thanks for reading!

~ The Excitable Feminist x