Monday, September 19, 2016


I realize this is random, as I had pretty much planned to spend all month writing ranty posts. However, I have decided not to post for the rest of the month, for several reasons. One of my biggest reasons is that I am within spitting distance of finishing this next to last draft of DRACONIAN, and I want it done. My other big reason is that I haven’t commented on other blogs or answered comments on mine for quite a while, and I would really like to catch up on that. 

Also, while I’ve had fun ranting, I’ve actually gotten it all out of my system sooner than I had expected. 

Anyway, all that to say, I plan to resume posting on October 3rd.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

In Defense of YA // Part #2

Note: There have been some bookish-community-related issues that have been bothering me lately, so my posts for September are going to be more ranty. Here is a list of my ranty posts so far: 

Also, if you’re looking for other posts from me, there’s still time to enter my giveaway. And if you haven’t read my interview on Victoria’s blog, feel free to check that out. 

Some of you may remember the post I wrote last year in response to an article telling adults they should be ashamed to read Young Adult books. Well, about a month ago, someone posted another article against YA, and I’m upset enough to respond once more, only this time I'm not feeling as nice or as tolerant. 

*awkward laughter all around*

For those of you who don’t want to read this latest article (Why young-adult-fiction is a dangerous fantasy) or give it pageviews, never fear. I really wish I could just annotate the entire piece, but for legal reasons, I can’t exactly do that. So I’m just going to summarize and respond to each individual argument. You're welcome. 

(Arguments in bold.)

YA fiction robs teens of the chance to become literate adults.

To be fair, he’s not saying YA fiction is making it so teens don’t learn how to read. But he is saying that YA makes it so teens don’t learn how to process and analyze what they read, which is essentially just as bad. 

About 75% of my reading diet is YA (probably more), and I got an 800 on the reading portion of the SAT (pre-2016 scoring method). But sure, if you say my reading habits are making me illiterate, I guess I’m illiterate. 

Of course, the SAT is not a perfect test, yet I do think it’s a fairly decent judge of how well a person can analyze reading material, among other things. I’m only 19, though, so what do I know? 

Young adulthood is not a legitimate state of being.

“Oh yes, back in my day, we went straight from childhood to adulthood.” Well, good for you. First of all, no, you didn’t. Secondly, when people did skip from childhood to adulthood a long time ago, they did so because they quit school at eighth grade (or sooner) and switched right away to their day-to-day job. They didn’t have those extra four years of school during that awkward, coming-of-age stage—those extra four years where they’re forced to live at home and still be young when their mind is telling them to establish their place in this world. It was the modern education system that imposed this prolonged state of adolescence on us, so as long as we still have high school, young adulthood is here to stay. But don't ever mistake it for a state of being that is to be looked down on or patronized. 

YA is “nothing more than gossip fodder” akin to the contents of the tabloids you find at the checkout.

I think anyone who says this with all honesty has either been reading all the trashiest YA they can find (because yes, some of YA is trashy—a lot of Adult books are trashy too), or they have been reading YA wrong. And I rarely accuse people of reading things wrong, because who am I to judge? But if you can’t read a wide sampling of YA and see that at least portions of it have worth and merit, then you're missing something. And while we’re at it, THE LORD OF THE FLIES is YA, so don’t give me any of this, “Teens shouldn’t read YA—they should read classics instead” nonsense. This is not a matter of either/or. 

Teens are reading less nonfiction because publishers think we’re too stupid (or maybe we’re actually too self-obsessed).

Somebody, restrain me. 

Let me introduce some useful concepts to you, sir. Here is the thing. Nonfiction is for learning, predominantly. Fiction, on the other hand, is more for escape (although you can learn a great deal from it). Teenagers have school. School is hard and very stressful. Also, there is homework. A LOT of homework. (I’m using short sentences so you can follow my logic.) Pardon me for suggesting this, but WHY THE HECK DO YOU THINK TEENS WOULD VOLUNTEER TO READ STUFF THAT SEEMS LIKE MORE SCHOOLWORK WHEN THEY ALREADY HAVE SCHOOLWORK COMING OUT THEIR EARS? 

I like nonfiction, but most of the nonfiction stuff I read is not in books—it’s in articles online. I have read one nonfiction book in 2016 so far, and I have two others on my TBR right now. I refuse to feel ashamed for not reading more nonfiction, even now that I'm not in school. 

I have no problem with nonfiction. If you drop an interesting nonfiction book in my lap, I will read it. But I don’t seek nonfiction out. Eventually, the longer I am away from school, the more I will want to read it. But I’m not going to force myself to read more nonfiction because I don’t want someone to think I’m stupid or self-obsessed. Honestly, teenagers ARE more focused on themselves BECAUSE THEY ARE LEARNING WHO THEY ARE AND WHAT THEIR PLACE IS IN THIS WORLD. That is not necessarily a bad thing. 

Get of your literary high horse. 

Rather than reading YA, teens should be engaging with books from intelligent adult minds (in other words, those adults who write YA aren’t intelligent).

Don’t make me laugh. Please, I beg of you. 

I hate laughing. 

Teens shouldn’t be reading YA—they should be reading books about growing up and becoming adults (i.e. coming-of-age stories). 


Because Young Adult literature is never about coming of age. It’s only ever about young adults in various situations trying to find their place in the world as bad things happen to them and make them grow up and become adults before their time. So….um…yeah, absolutely no coming-of-age stories here. 

Publishers have been turning teenagers off to reading by producing sub-par literature. 

I refer you to my previous point about not making me laugh. 

In all seriousness, yes, sometimes publishers publish something in YA that makes a bunch of seasoned readers roll their eyes, but committed readers will always find something worthwhile to read. We are not quitters, and we don’t have the attention span of a caffeinated gnat. Give us some credit, please. Also, unlike what you seem to think, we’re deeper than your average melted ice cube. 

YA is causing adolescent behavior in adults (in reference to politics especially). 

No, actually, I think that’s poor parenting. 

In conclusion, don’t patronize teenagers. Just don’t. Young is not a synonym for stupid, and you would know that if you took off your “I’m a seasoned, worldly adult” sunglasses and actually looked at us. Sure, there are plenty of stupid people out there—stupid babies, stupid teens, stupid adults, stupid ninety-year-olds. Age isn't a factor. 

I don’t even care if you don’t like reading YA. If Adult novels are your shindig, then I respect that. But if you don’t like the food, don’t spit on it—leave it for someone else to eat and mind your own plate. The world is large, and you are small. It is not your place to shame people or police what everyone else is reading. 

Just a few thoughts. 

Well, that’s it for today, my little coffee beans. Have you read the article? What are your thoughts on the issue? What are some of your responses to his arguments?

Monday, September 12, 2016

ALLEGIANT // Discussion

Note: Please be advised, there will be DIVERGENT, INSURGENT, and ALLEGIANT spoilers in this post. SPOILERS, I TELL YOU. If you are interested in my spoilery DIVERGENT and INSURGENT discussions, you can find them here and here. Also, if you haven’t entered my blogversary giveaway, there’s still time to do that! And if, for some reason, you finish reading this post and feel sad because you have nothing new to read from me, feel free to hop on over to Victoria’s blog where I talk about what it’s like to have PSTD

Rating: Three Stars—Good

As with INSURGENT, I’m torn on the rating for ALLEGIANT. I have fond memories of this story. I have fond memories of this series. But I also have some problems with ALLEGIANT. All this makes it difficult to determine whether it deserves more or fewer stars than I am prepared to give. (Also, point of interest that has no real relevance to this topic: I am typing this post with one hand while making a cappuccino with the other. I just thought you should know what my priorities look like.) 

Since you’re potentially wondering about my opinions on the controversial ending, why don’t I save you the trouble of skimming to the end of the post and just cut to the chase now? (This has the added benefit of confusing those who have already skimmed to the end and now have no clue what is going on.) 

First of all, I can’t give you my initial reaction upon reading Tris’ death scene, because the ending was spoiled for me (inadvertently, and the culprit felt really bad about it) a year before I got around to purchasing a copy. This is partially my fault, as I have a tendency to arrive years late to the party. (And also because I overheard the spoiler in a conversation that did not include me. *awkward laugh* I heard my friend mentioning Tris, and my ears got too excited.) I’m not mad about this anymore, as I have a tendency to peek at the ending ahead of time, and thus would have probably spoiled myself if left to my own devices. (I am, however, still bummed about the time one of my sister’s campers spoiled me for the ending to THE FAULT IN OUR STARS on purpose. Accidents are one thing. It’s quite another when someone intentionally takes away the magic of surprise from another reader. #rude) 

However, my initial reaction upon hearing about Tris’ death was textbook denial. When someone tells me something of this nature, I have this annoying habit of assuming they’ve started taking stupid pills and have absolutely no clue what they’re talking about. Poor them. So misinformed. Clearly Tris is not dead. *distant sobbing* 

I am resigned to the truth now, of course. And I suppose it’s all for the best that I got spoiled, because that left me free to read Veronica’s explanation of why she chose to kill Tris before I actually got around to reading ALLEGIANT. If you haven’t already read her post, I recommend that you do so, the TL;DR version being that the death successfully completed Tris’ intended character arc. In INSURGENT, she wants to die for all the wrong reasons (mainly, guilt and self-loathing), whereas in ALLEGIANT she chooses to die for the right reasons, thus showing how her character has progressed over the course of the trilogy. (Also, here is another post related to the ending that's well worth reading.) 

All in all, as sad as it is, I don’t really mind that Tris dies, because I do think it lends a certain sense of realism to the story. So often main characters walk away from conflicts that should have killed them, and we know they only survived because the author didn’t want to kill their precious baby cinnamon roll. I get that. In my personal opinion, I don’t get frustrated when authors play favorites and save characters who should logically have died, mainly because I read for escape as well as for mental stimulation, and there are times when I just emotionally need a certain character to not die, please and thank you very much. But I’m also not going to cry foul when an author takes the realistic route. 

I do agree that, in some ways, Tris’ death wraps up her character arc quite nicely. However, here’s where I disagree somewhat. I felt her death lacked the emotional punch and sense of finality necessary for a completely satisfying ending, because I don’t think it was entirely meaningful or unavoidable. After all, Tris is willing to brave the dangers of the death serum in order to save Caleb’s life, thus completely forgiving him and putting an altogether different price tag on her own life. But then she makes it through the death serum unscathed, only to get shot down on the other side. She doesn’t need to get shot (or killed) to make the point—braving the death serum of her own accord (even if she lives) brings her character arc to a close. 

I think if there had been more explanation as to why David was there to head Tris off at the pass, I would have felt better about it. For instance, the thought that he was just waiting for her feels sloppy, since they could have just posted way more security to take her out even before she gets through the death serum. I think her death would have felt more inevitable and more justified if she had walked in on David actively preparing to release the memory serum. There would have been a greater sense of urgency, since she could have been shot trying to stop him. 

Another thing that naggles at me is that it’s relatively easy to avoid getting shot at point blank range if you know what you’re doing, because it doesn’t take long to close the distance and disarm the attacker, especially if he’s in a wheelchair. So it bothers me that Tris doesn’t try to take out the guy with the gun before turning her back on him. What did she think was going to happen? Didn’t she spend almost the entire first book in this trilogy learning to defend herself? 

I guess what bothers me most is that she gets shot in the back. If she was going to get shot, she should have been shot facing her enemy, actively working to take him out, instead of taking it on faith that he wasn’t going to pull the trigger. Because all the signs were there that he was prepared to kill her if he had to. After all, he commended her for being willing to let him get killed in order to protect the security codes to this very room in the first place. 

She fails to assess the situation. She gets stupid. She gets killed. I don’t like that. Not the getting killed part—the getting stupid part. I’m okay with deaths that happen because of stupidity, but not when they’re the deaths of beloved main characters. I feel like they deserve a little more respect than that. 

Okay, now let’s talk about what was going on while Tris was busy getting herself killed. 

Oh, right, Tobias was talking down a homicidal tyrant using puppy eyes and love. 

See, this is what I don’t buy. I don’t buy Evelyn, a hardened woman who has been exiled from her faction and separated from her family for over a decade, at the cusp of full control over the city that has never loved her and must now bow to her, suddenly going all soft and sentimental and choosing her absent, unforgiving son over the sense of power she has so desperately craved since probably the moment Marcus started hitting her. I certainly don’t buy her handing all this over to Marcus’ side in the name of love. Love is powerful yes, but not necessarily fast-acting. 

I also don’t like that the main conflict is resolved by a simple conversation. I don’t like the fact that everyone, each side with legitimate and long-standing grievances against the other, suddenly backs down and decides to act nice like this was all just some big misunderstanding. People are talented at many things, but they are especially good at prolonging conflict past the point of all reason. So their sudden capitulation makes the ending feel rushed and over-easy, like a suspiciously runny fried egg. 

Backing up a little timeline-wise, now that we have covered the climax, let’s talk about the connection between the slaughter of the Abnegation and David’s decision to reset the experiment. When it comes down to it, the whole point of the experiment is to produce more Divergents. It’s not about fixing human society or learning more about human nature. It’s just about somehow making two genetically-damaged parents produce genetically-corrected spawn offspring children. And then having this pattern repeat itself all over the entire city, until somehow humanity has righted itself. Even if we were to ignore the fact that damaged genes beget even more damaged genes rather than two wrongs making a right, there’s still a problem with this part of the book. Namely, WHY THE HECK WOULD DAVID ASSIST IN THE OBLITERATION OF THE FACTION WITH THE MOST DIVERGENTS? As I’ve already said, the whole point of this experiment is to produce Divergents. So why would you do something in the name of protecting the experiment that only delays the experiment’s successful conclusion? We call this behavior counterproductive, folks, and it’s normally frowned upon. 

Say I’m growing experimental potatoes, but I keep getting weeds, and they keep choking my plants. Also I have bugs, and they’re trying to eat all my experimental potatoes. #rude Do you suppose I should go through and fix the problem by plucking the weeds and killing the bugs, which would take time and effort but would ultimately save the largest amount of experimental potatoes that can be saved in this hypothetical? According to David, I should just, you know, take a blow torch to the whole thing in hopes of maybe having a few viable experimental potatoes at the end. Because in terms of money and resources, that’s the smartest option, right? Right? 


If David has the option of reseting the entire experiment (using the memory serum) in order to keep it from tearing itself apart, and if the biggest goal of having this giant petri dish of human amoeba is to make them reproduce, then he should have had no qualms about reseting the whole shebang when things started to go south in the first place, which was when the Abnegation leaders were planning to release information about the outside to the general public. A flick of the wand, some magic dust, and poof! Problem solved with minimum loss of Divergents. You’re welcome. 

On a related note, it also doesn’t make sense that our darling David would team up and supply simulation serums to Jeanine—the one woman most intent on rooting out and killing all Divergents (which, might I remind you, ARE THE ENTIRE STINKIN’ POINT OF THE ENTIRE FORSAKEN EXPERIMENT). *ahem* I am calm. 

ALLEGIANT was frustrating in other areas as well, namely, Tobias’ entire existence. In DIVERGENT, he is mentally strong and he is cool and enigmatic and pretty decent book-boyfriend material. In INSURGENT, he is less so, but whatever. I understand that the situation is a little more tense, and we all crack a bit under pressure. But come ALLEGIANT, he has progressed from a well-adjusted, capable male to a whining drama queen king. Little mister special snowflake gets his feelings hurt when the big, mean scientist tells him his genes aren’t as cool as Tris’ genes. A couple-hundred-page-long tantrum ensues. People die. 

Perhaps you are beginning to understand my frustration? 

Instead of being the Four that overcame his painful backstory to become the number one Dauntless initiate of his year (as well as the initiate with the fewest fears of ever), he becomes the spoiled brat who can no longer function as he has before because he’s not as special as he thought he was and suddenly he’s fearful and insecure about everything. Perceptive, intelligent Four becomes weak-willed, petty Tobias who allows himself to be led on and used by a woman with very clear, very bad intentions. Yet, despite all this, Tris pulls the “he sharpens me, we sharpen each other” line. Like, no you don’t. You spend most of your time fighting about petty things, not communicating about the important stuff AT ALL, and lying to each other half the time. And when you warn him about not doing the stupid thing, he accuses you of jealousy and then proceeds to do the stupid thing. You do not sharpen each other. You are not good for each other. You two are a toxic combination, and your continued affection for each other does not make sense to me. Tris, you need to ditch the manchild and date Matthew. (Ignore that last line. I got a little overexcited.) 

In somewhat-related terms, the whole main thrust of the story seems to be making the point that there is really no difference between those who are genetically damaged and those who are genetically pure, that human nature is universal and inescapable, no matter your genes. I would be onboard for this message if it weren’t for the teeny, tiny, slight issue where the majority of GDs in ALLEGIANT do stupid, irrational, dangerous things while the majority of GPs do rational, helpful things that don’t involve accidentally blowing up their friends. I get that if you live in a culture long enough where you are told enough times that you are bad, you will be more likely to do bad things, because the human psyche is weird like that. And I understand the whole “us against them” mentality. But that doesn't happen with everyone. And Four is the new kid on the block, so what’s his excuse? (This is actually not a rhetorical question, as I am still on the fence here and am curious about your opinion on the matter.) 

And then my last issue has to do with the dual narrative. I could barely tell the viewpoints apart. I have a good memory, yet I kept forgetting which character’s head I was in because, after the first fifty pages or so, the two POVs became essentially identical. Even on my second reread, I kept wondering why Tris was suddenly a guy. My sister listened to the audiobook, which has a female narrator and a male narrator, and she kept getting them mixed up too, which is when you know you have a problem. 

In conclusion, I realize that I spent this entire post talking about negatives. There are definitely parts of ALLEGIANT that I loved (otherwise I would have given it one star, not three), but this post is already super long, so I don’t have time to cover the positives. I guess you could just assume that I liked most everything else in the story, for the meantime. And maybe eventually I will revisit this discussion and talk some more about the DIVERGENT trilogy. 

What are your thoughts, my little coffee beans? What do you think about ALLEGIANT? What problems did I miss? What were your favorite parts? Which is your favorite book in the trilogy? What do you think of the movie version?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

How About We Don't Bully Authors (Or Anyone Else, For That Matter)

Disclaimer: As I mentioned in Monday’s post, there have been some bookish-community-related issues that have been bothering me lately, so my posts for September are going to be more ranty. (If you haven’t read Monday’s post yet, you might want to, since it ties in to this post a little. And if you haven’t entered my giveaway yet, there’s still time!) 

As much as it is probably more fun than it should be to write rants, I wish I didn’t feel the need to write this post. I wish the writing/reading community could be a safer, more positive place for everyone. And I wish I owned a Lamborghini. (Sorry, I got distracted.)

Since I plan to be published eventually, sometimes I wonder if I’m looking at my future—if the hate I see aimed at authors today will one day be aimed at me, and it’s not a pleasant thought (not that I expect to be super famous). I hate that one of the activities that is most therapeutic and natural for me could suddenly become a whole new war zone in my life. I have already witnessed the start of too many wars, both real and metaphorical. I swear it’s been easier to process the idea of needing to leave my home because people would kill me for my skin color if I stayed than it is to think that people might twist my words and my art to make a monster of me simply for their own amusement. 

Of course, I don’t expect this post to change anything, because I am intelligent enough to grasp that most trolls and haters won’t simply listen to reason and reform. Anger is their trade, just as words are mine. But that doesn’t change the fact that I am still perfectly capable of whining about it. 

Two or three weeks ago, Twitter exploded with tons of angry readers discussing Sarah J. Maas, and there I was, sitting on the sidelines, wondering what had happened this time. Because if it isn’t one thing, then it’s another. Always, always. After trying unsuccessfully to figure out what was going on (I was being extra careful to avoid EMPIRE OF STORMS spoilers), I decided to just back off and wait it out, since I figured it would end eventually. Except it hasn’t, not yet at least. And while I realize the world doesn’t revolve around my feelings, I just have to say it: I’m getting so tired of this rampant immaturity. 

I expect you all to listen to your queen and shape up, or I'll take away your coffee privileges. Got it? 

But in all seriousness, do you want to know what happened, why this particular hurricane of hate has been sweeping through, why the Twitter piranhas have been trying to eat Maas alive? From what I’ve been told, Maas didn’t make a pair of her characters gay. She didn’t make a pair of FICTIONAL. NOT REAL. MADE-UP. CHARACTERS. date each other. And apparently that’s enough to warrant death threats. Apparently that’s enough reason for people to tell her to kill herself or choke on certain parts of the male anatomy. 

We have officially reached the point where we are capable of getting so angry over people who aren’t real that we are willing to tar and feather those who are. I feel like this accomplishment warrants some kind of reward, like an all-expense-paid trip to a country that doesn’t have internet. 

I want to be nice here, I do. I want to be kind and gentle, and I want this to be a safe place for you people. I don’t want to lead by an example of anger, but I also don’t want to lie and pretend that I’m not angry when I am. I am angry. And I’m still trying to figure out how to channel this anger so it doesn’t hurt anyone, including myself. 

Because when it wasn’t Maas getting slammed, it was V.E. Schwab. Before that, it was Sasha and Lindsay getting hounded by dozens of trolls on Goodreads. Back when ALLEGIANT came out, it was Veronica Roth getting death threats. Right now it’s also A.C. Thomas, author of THE HATE U GIVE (out next year). It just doesn’t stop. I don’t even know these writers personally, but I care about them because they are writers too, because they are people too, because they care about things I care about, and because they share their thoughts and put themselves out there with so much bravery. I hate watching them get torn apart. 

When did it become okay to bully writers? For that matter, when did it become okay to bully anyone? I’m no stranger to bullying. I’ve been bullied myself. And the older I get, the less tolerance I have for bullies, the less I have the energy to stop and feel sympathetic for the deep hurt inside these trolls that makes them act the way they do. I even dislike that wording. Nothing is making them act that way. They are choosing to hurt people. I’m tired of having sympathy for the devil. I’m tired of overlooking your bad actions because of your tragic backstory. I have my own tragic backstory, and I am still responsible for my actions. As are you. As is everyone. Nothing makes it okay to lash out, to take our wounds and multiply them on others so we’re all painted red. 

I’m so tired of this. 

I know it’s best to ignore the trolls, to avoid their anger so I don’t catch it like a virus (and, you know, sneeze it out on others). But to me, that seems like a faulty solution, because you lose if you engage and you lose if you sit on the sidelines. Either way their words aren’t harmless. So you stand up to them and try to be as nice as possible about it and end up feeling like you’re getting dragged down to their level, or you stand by and do nothing even though that doesn’t feel like the right thing to do, because you would be wrong to stand by and do nothing if this were happening in front of you instead of online. Of course, you can flag comments and report abuse, but usually nothing happens when you do. Like I said, lose-lose. 

I know these authors usually have support systems, so please don’t think I’m sitting here chewing my nails, seeing myself as their savior, the one to swoop in and stop the bullying. But the fact remains that these authors are no less human than the rest of us, and depression and anxiety are big issues in the writing community. Words from trolls have as much power to hurt writers as they do to hurt non-writers. When you consider these people are being bullied about their job, the thing that pays their bills, I find that especially troubling. And I would love to wake up one morning to an internet free of trolls, free of unnecessary anger and hate, a world where people live and let live. 

(This all being said, I’m definitely not ignoring the bad eggs among the authors who troll their trolls, or, you know, stalk them.) 

Can we do something? Can we take back this ground with positivity? Can we drown out the trolls with nice thoughts and nice words so no one even pays attention to the angry angries anymore? Can we find some way to make overwhelming kindness a thing again? Or am I just being too idealistic? 

What about you, my little coffee beans? What do you think about all this drama? What is your policy when it comes to trolls? Do you know of any authors who have been specifically targeted lately? (Also, please, no spoilers for EMPIRE OF STORMS, or I will give you a paper cut and pour lemon juice on it. I haven’t even read CROWN OF MIDNIGHT yet. WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?)

Monday, September 5, 2016

ZENITH // So. Many. Trolls.

Disclaimer: There have been some bookish-community-related things that have been bothering me lately, so my posts for September might tend to be a bit more ranty. We’ll see. I apologize in advance if you prefer more positive things. I promise I will try to be nice, and I promise I won’t go overboard. But if I don’t talk about this stuff now—if I wait another few months—then I won’t play nice. And you want me to play nice. 

Rating: Four Stars—Great

I wouldn’t be surprised if a bunch of you already know who Sasha Alsburg is—but in case you don’t, she’s the popular booktuber behind abookuptopia. (I have no clue if that’s the right way to introduce a Youtube channel, but whatever. We’re just going to go with it.) For a while now, I’ve enjoyed watching her videos, so I was excited to learn that she was co-authoring a book with Lindsay Cummings (I ordered her books, THE MURDER COMPLEX and THE DEATH CODE, off Book Depository last week, and I'm stoked to read them). Initially, Sasha and Lindsay had planned to release the book in parts, but when the first part topped the New York Times Bestseller list for ebooks, they ended up with a lovely book deal from Harlequin Teen (expected publication date, Fall 2017). 

And…here’s where the problem starts. Shortly after ZENITH, Part One was published, I blithely wandered onto Goodreads, all happy and excited for Sasha and Lindsay, only to see so many people saying so many ugly things about (and to) them. Now, of course, I am not some sheltered little person with no idea what goes on in the outside world. I am well aware that trolls exist, and I have come across far too many for my taste. I also know engaging with them only makes it worse, which is why I'm not putting this discussion up on Goodreads and why I will delete your comments unanswered if you try to troll me on my blog. Normally I ignore trolls, because they are like spiders. You really dislike them, but you're never going to be able to rid the world of them by pointing out to them the error of their ways. But it bothered me enough this time that I’m going to share my opinion here, where most, if not all of you, are reasonable people with nice brains. So in the end, I guess it probably doesn’t matter, since you are all sensible enough not to be trolls, I would hope. Whatever. I need to rant. For the sake of argument, please pretend to be trolls so I can properly chew you out. Okay? Okay. 

First of all, let me just throw out a disclaimer here so none of us start out confused or needlessly upset. I am not saying people are wrong to share their negative opinions. If you dislike a book, you are free to write a review talking about how much you disliked said book. However, there are a few boundaries when it comes to free speech, just as there are boundaries when it comes to freedom of movement. 

For instance, say you are walking down an empty sidewalk. On this stretch of open cement, you are free to swing your arms just as much as you would like; you’re not going to hurt anyone. Likewise, in the privacy of your own space (like your blog), you are free to write what you like because people don’t have to come within reading distance of you unless they want to. 

However, say you are walking down the same sidewalk, but this time it’s super crowded. Of course, you could swing your arms as much as you’d like, but you’d hit a lot of people, these humans would get upset, and that would be on you. You would be the problem. When you start hitting people left and right, you sign away your option to stay out of that fight. Similarly, when you wander onto someone’s positive review and insult them for liking a book or say other nasty things without employing your God-given filter, you are hurting people, and that is where your privileged freedom ends. Freedom is not freedom if it requires that you take away another person's right to be treated like a human being. And when people get angry at you and want to throw you into a metaphorical dumpster after you trash them or bully the authors themselves, that is their right. I have exactly zero sympathy if they turn around and bite you in the face. This isn’t kindergarten, and if you don’t understand that at this point, you do not belong on the internet. 

But I’m getting distracted here. 

Perhaps you are wondering why the trolls were going into a feeding frenzy over Sasha and Lindsay’s book deal. Fortunately, you have me to explain these things for you. *polishes nails* 

From what I gathered before I decided I would rather chew off my favorite big toe than continue reading hateful comments, the biggest issue many of these people have is with Sasha’s perceived easy success. After all, Lindsay was previously published, but Sasha has, according to them at least (I don’t know everything, so I can’t say if they’re wrong), never finished a novel-length work before. And suddenly she’s got a major book deal and the coveted #1 New York Times Bestseller label. Even before that, she had managed to snag Jo Volpe as her agent (the same Jo Volpe who represents Veronica Roth). Not to mention she has over 300,000 subscribers on Youtube. 

So, these trolls are alleging that Sasha has had all this wonderful success handed to her on a silver platter, that ZENITH only did this well because Sasha is pretty and knows how to pout at a camera, and that all her fans are giving her book five stars regardless of the quality of the content because they are sheeple. They are saying that she doesn’t deserve her success, that it isn’t fair that she gets all this without working for it while all these poor souls have struggled to get published with no success. 

Well, as someone who has had over forty rejections on her first manuscript, I say boo hoo. Boo. Hoo. Life isn't fair. Fair is where you buy cotton candy. (I know, I’m a real shoulder to cry on. Have a tissue.) 

This is an actual video of me. 

But seriously, in case you missed it: GET. OVER. IT. 

Do you know why I’m being this harsh? Do you? I’m being this honest about my feelings because I don’t even care if Sasha did have her success handed to her on a silver platter (which she didn’t, because she worked for it, because no one gets a free ride; she got the deal because her book was popular—that is how the industry works). I am not ignorant, neither am I blind. I know full well that writing is one of the most competitive work fields. But I have never assumed that, in order to succeed in this field, you must first metaphorically slit your opponent’s throat. 

Here is how it works. The publishing industry is about money. That is not a shameful thing. All these people who work in publishing companies or as authors or whatever, they need money to eat and to live quality lives if they can manage it. Let’s be honest—we complain far less about doctor’s bills, and they charge far more than publishing companies do. And unlike books, you don’t always have the choice about whether or not you incur those bills. So unless you have something constructive and knowledgable to say about this issue, please go complain about something worth complaining about. Or better yet, shut up. I am beyond done with all these abusive comments in reference to a publisher publishing something or an author making money. 

Oh yes, I understand the struggle in these people’s minds, because I have wrestled this particular demon myself. Multiple times. I understand how sour you can get in your head when you see your own BEAUTIFUL BABY WORK OF GENIUS collecting dust in your hard drive because Little Miss Agent failed to recognize your screaming intellect whilst publishers fall over themselves buying wet rags and passing them off as REAL LITERATURE. *gasp* So let me give you a tiny piece of advice. Remember that the church might have punished Galileo, but he was still right: The universe does not revolve around you. 

Writing is subjective. Reading is subjective. And unfortunately, sometimes a book you love beyond measure (whether it's yours or not) just won’t get the recognition you feel it deserves. I know I get frustrated when I see how many people dislike IMAGINARY GIRLS, by Nova Ren Suma. But I also understand that this probably means I have more obscure tastes. Maybe this will even mean I will end up writing books that only appeal to people with obscure tastes. Will that be disappointing in terms of sales? Probably. Will I paint myself as the struggling, true artist, buried under the commercialized crapheap of mainstream writing, one of the last few literary lights in a cold, dark world. Heck no. Heck no. The moment people adopt that pretentious attitude about art, any sort of art, is the moment they cease to be true artists and become only tired parodies of themselves. 

So yes, sometimes publishers will print books we generally consider sub par (*ahem* FIFTY SHADES OF GREY *ahem*). When that happens, I think it’s important that we all sit back and realize that, if someone is able to make a decent living in this craft, and if people are willing to spend their money on these books, there’s really no reason to complain. This is why we have book reviewers. They let us know how they feel about new and old books so we can make informed decisions before purchasing them ourselves. Also there is this lovely invention called the library where I'm told you can borrow books FOR FREE. No publisher is going to stop you in a dark alley, relieve you of your wallet, and thrust a stack of poorly-written novels into your fear-paralyzed arms. And next time, when you see a publisher making another sound business decision like buying ZENITH, maybe you should consider applauding them for doing their job well, since Sasha’s success wasn’t the thing that made it so you didn’t succeed. 

Bottom line: If you hate a book, put it down, walk away, share your opinion politely, and then MOVE THE HECK ON. It is literally that easy. You do not need to bully the author or insult the fans or earn hundreds of brownie points in the club of I Really Stinkin’ Hate This Book by being a female dog about it. It shouldn't bother you that other people like a book you hated. You are not five. 

Oh, and another thing, when I see a writer or a wannabe-writer bullying other writers or fans of other writers, they go on a very special, very exclusive list called “People whose books I will never knowingly buy or promote”. Writing is business, as much as it would be nice if it were purely art. And if you behave unprofessionally, I will have no part in this business you want to run. If you do not support your fellow authors and at least keep quiet if you can’t bring yourself to be happy for their successes, I will not support you. I know this probably doesn’t mean much. Maybe it's even petty. It’s not like my boycott will hurt you. I don’t fancy myself someone who could cause a sales tipping point from obscure to popular by my words alone, so I also don’t fancy myself as someone who could damage another’s career. That’s not even an aspiration of mine, because I would prefer to go through this life doing as little harm as possible. But in the writing world, it helps to have support. And if you don’t support others, I will not have your back. The writing community is just that—a community, not a place where we stand around and throw crap at each other because we’re too immature to handle our jealousy like sane people. If you can't play nice, then don't try to join the other kids on the playground. You will just make everyone miserable. 

But back to ZENITH, because this is supposed to be a review of sorts. As you have already seen, probably, I gave ZENITH four stars. As short as it was, I really enjoyed what I read. Yes, it wasn’t perfect, but it has spirit, it has energy, and it has a vast deal of potential. People have claimed it’s a rip-off of THRONE OF GLASS, but having a female assassin for a main character does not make your book a rip-off of anything. In fact, I’m more interested in Andi’s character arc than I am in Celaena’s (although I am interested in hers as well). While Celaena is a hard-core assassin, the Bloody Baroness suffers each time she kills someone, which is a fascinating mental state, if you ask me. I already know I will be preordering the full book when it gets closer to publication. And, of course, I will be talking more about it then. In the meantime, rest assured, there is plenty of stabbiness and internal wrestling, and I am sad I don’t have the full book in my hands yet. 

What about you, my little coffee beans? If you’ve read ZENITH, what did you think about it? Have you been following the drama around ZENITH? Do trolls bother you?