Two YA novels in a row that left me disappointed. I wrote a review about one of them. The other one, written by Amanda Sun, is called Ink. I am not writing a review of it because my criticisms are very similar. In short, I don’t like this idea of female main characters both fitting the role of Damsel in Distress and falling for guys who treat them terribly. Does anyone have a suggestion for a good YA novel? I’d take General Fiction as well. Let me know in the comments.
Now that you’re all caught up, let me talk about it a little bit. Besides Hellbound, Grotesque is probably the only book I liked after I finished writing it. To me it actually seemed worthy of being read by others. But this was a problem in and of itself. As I often say: It’s okay when you are your own worst critic; it’s when you’re your own biggest fan that problems start to arise. It wasn’t until my friend Micah and I went to IHOP to discuss the book that she pointed out some ways to improve it that I would never have thought about on my own.
The biggest thing she pointed out was that Serrafiel – the Grotesque – comes to life pre-programmed with a set of morals. He knows what’s right and wrong…
“There’s a forest just beyond the village. Look there. And make sure the villagers get a glimpse of you. I want them scared.”
I feel my stomach clench as my feet begin moving to do Master’s bidding. He wants people to fear me. I don’t want to be feared, or seen, or hunted. I don’t want this life, this body, this master.
He’s not at all curious about sex…
I bend my legs up and down to try and get the kinks worked out, and that’s when I notice the thing that’s dangling between them. I raise my eyebrows at it, and then the word for it, as well as what it’s typically used for, comes to mind. Heat rushes to my face as I look away from that part of my anatomy. I definitely won’t be using that anytime soon.
And he understands that his master is evil, which causes him to begin rebelling the moment he’s made to do something bad…
My mind works furiously to find a way around Master’s orders. He ordered me to be seen, but, I realize, he did not command me to make the villagers scared. All he said was that he wanted the villagers scared. But I could give someone a glimpse of me without scaring them. I’d have to be fast, though. If I’m going to draw any attention to myself, I want the people who see me to not be sure of what it is they are looking at.
What Micah pointed out to me was that, if he is so new to the world, he wouldn’t automatically know/feel all these things. Even more importantly, his master would definitely force him to enjoy being enslaved, simply by commanding him to feel that way. (His master’s magic binds him and forces him to obey direct orders, much like Ella from Ella Enchanted).
Now, I had my reasons. I wanted to avoid the Frankenstein’s Monster cliche. You know, where everyone sees a monster and immediately assumes the worst? I wanted people to fear Serra, but learn very quickly that he is not what he seems. Just to mess with people’s expectations for the story. But Micah pointed out that my way of going about it was impractical, and I have to agree. What’s more, I have to admit that a character who is a flawless hero from the very beginning of the story isn’t very interesting. A redeemed hero is much more attention-grabbing. If Serrafiel is made to be happy to do the wrong thing, and then finds out what he has done, his journey to seek forgiveness from himself and others would involve a much more definitive character arc.
My problem, I realized much later, was that I fell into the trap of liking my character too much. I wanted to protect him from bad things, so I made him dodge around his master’s commands from the beginning, and I made people like him almost instantly and exclusively.
In the end, I had to face that sometimes bad things have to happen. Even if it’s hard to write. On the plus side, changing the things I talked about above will help keep the book from being so formulaic. As it is now, it’s kind of like: Master gives command, Serrafiel finds way around command, Serrafiel is emo about being commanded, Repeat.
I haven’t started editing yet, because I am very, very lazy. Also this book requires a lot of knowledge about things like politics and history, which my spurious understanding of the subjects cannot accommodate. Maybe once I’ve done my research and finished a significant portion of the editing, I’ll share an excerpt from the revision.
That’s all for now!
Word of the Day: Spurious (adj) – not genuine, authentic, or true; not from the claimed, pretended, or proper source; counterfeit.
P.S. I was too lazy to draw a comic. Again. Sorry. I can promise this will happen a lot.