There’s tons of buzz about diversity in today’s books. Whether you think this is needed or not, you would probably agree that characters should be different from each other. After all, no one wants a cast that’s exactly alike.
The Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo is pretty diverse, in the popular sense of the word (including disabilities!), but something that really stood out to me was the diversity in culture.
So I finally conquered my (rational) fear of e-books and my (irrational) aversion to self-published works. With this new world of possibilities open, I started with a short story called Skies of Dripping Gold by Hannah Heath (who happens to be an awesome blogger).
There’s a lot packed into this little story- most of it good. One thing that really stuck out to me was its allegorical aspects. Before getting into that, though, I’ll give my non-spoiler thoughts.
Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo, is a super fun YA fantasy heist book. It’s about six teenagers and their attempt to infiltrate the most secure prison in the known world: the Ice Court. If they succeed, they’ll be rich for life. If they fail, they die.
Let’s be clear here: I loved this book. There’s lots of great things about it, including the surprisingly fresh characters and the multiple cultures and settings. However, it definitely falls short in some areas, including handling multiple points of view.
Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys, is a phenomenal YA historical fiction book. It follows four young adults from different countries during World War II as their paths converge to the fated MV Wilhelm Gustloff.
In 1945 the German military transport ship Wilhelm Gustloff sank in the Baltic Sea (the sea between Sweden and Latvia/Lithuania/Poland/etc.) while carrying around 10,600 passengers and crew. The majority of these were civilian refugees fleeing the approaching Red Army. Up to 9,400 people died, making it the largest loss of life of a single sunk ship, even greater than the Titanic, which is far better known (thanks, Wikipedia!).
Salt to the Sea‘s four main characters end up on this doomed boat as they flee from their past. (Spoilers ahead)
Ugh. If I’d wanted bad fanfiction, I would have gone to tumblr.
Every word you write makes a promise to your readers. Some are implicit, others explicit. Implicit promises are promises like characterization- with your depictions, you are promising your readers that this is how your characters would act. Explicit promises are promises like, oh, I don’t know, “The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years.”
Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt is a phenomenal novel by Anne Rice. It’s a first person narrative following seven-year-old Jesus Christ as he leaves Egypt and is reestablished in Nazareth with His family.
And why it rocks.
Uh… I mean, ‘And what it shows about setting up characters like Dickens does.’
Whatever. It rocks.
“Do you have any books by Jane Eyre?” Many potential customers ask this at bookstores. They mean Jane Austen, but instead of referring to the early 1800’s author they say the name of the mid 1800’s heroine. Apparently, those two are easy to mix up.