Chosen to embrace her true identity. Chosen to follow her destiny. Chosen to change her world.
This is a book founded on racist stereotypes, blackface, and justifiable slavery, and abominable characters framed as “the good guys”. We did an in-depth discussion over at Papercuts Podcast, but I wanted to have a text entry on it, too, so notes dump. GoogleDocs formatting is better, but here’s the text.
Mari is an Earth Walker, heir to the unique healing powers of her Clan, but she has been forced to turn from her duties, until she is chosen by a special animal ally, altering her destiny forever. When a deadly attack tears her world apart, Mari reveals the strength of her powers and the forbidden secret of her dual nature as she embarks on a mission to save herself and her people. It is not until Nik, the son of the leader from a rival, dominating Tribe, strays across her path that Mari experiences something she has never felt before…
Now evil is coming, and with it, a force more terrible and destructive than the world has ever seen, leaving Mari to cast the shadows from the earth. By breaking Clan Law and forming an alliance with Nik, she must make herself ready. Ready to save her people. Ready to save herself and Nik. Ready to embrace her true destiny…and battle the forces that threaten to destroy them all.
- Nik’s introduction is him getting called out for his misogyny, being a total sexist, privileged shitface
- We’re still supposed to like him tho.
- Relationship between MC and mother is WEIRD
- They’re bffs but also like sisters, calls her “mama”
- That Scene Where Leda Dies
- After almost dying like five times. IT IS COMICAL AND NOT TRAGIC.
- The Sun People’s origin story so anti-technology
- But before all could be death
all could be death,
from the ending came the beginning
came the beginning.
For not all of the people were deaf,
not all were deaf.
Some left the soulless cities,
the soulless cities.
And followed the promise of green,
of healing green,
To the forest they turned!
To the forest they turned!
It’s like a fucking Atlantic article.
- WE’RE HERE, WE’RE QUEER, WE’RE DEAD
- The scene where Nik’s father tells him about killing Mari’s dad
- “Father, I have no right to judge you. You did what you believed you had to do, and the Elders did what they believed was best for the greater good of our Tribe. It’s just so horrible. I can’t imagine what it’s been like for you carrying around this secret for all of these years.”
looooooooooooooooool IT MUST HAVE BEEN SO HARD 4 U, NOT TELLING ANYONE HOW U KILLED UR BEST FRIEND
- Take a drink every time Nik’s dad says “son”
- Mari decides to save Nik’s life for NO REASON EXCEPT PLOT
- “What? Why would you do that?” Sora asked.
“Sora, by now you should know that I’d do anything for Rigel. He led me here. He won’t let you kill this man. I don’t think he could make it much clearer that he wants me to help. So that’s why I’m going to examine him—for Rigel.”
OH PC CAST, U AND YOUR TRANSPARENT PLOT LOGIC.
- By the end, Mari is a Good and Kind Savior
- She had to Wash the women. Her conscience wouldn’t allow her to leave—to retreat back to her comfortable burrow and the friends waiting for her there—while knowing Earth Walker women were suffering and she had had the opportunity to relieve them of that suffering, even if it was only for a little while.
- Is this a legit character turn?
- Total Danerys “mother” moment
- “Together they ran the length of the dock, unbarring and flinging wide the doors, and as they did so women began to spill out of the houses, crying, “Moon Woman! Our Moon Woman!”
And then they were surrounding her, and it seemed a million hands reached for her as voices cried, over and over, for her to Wash them—save them.”
- Keeping in mind the Mari = “good” white-coded features girl who hated her people, and Moon ppl = POC, this is really fucking gross.
- THEY TALK IN EXPOSITION CONSTANTLY.
- See also: literally any part of this book. Mari talks to painting, herself, dog, First scene is Mari and her mom explaining their naming conventions to each other. Nik exposits to father about things they already know, right up until the end.
- The Dialogue is Atrocious
- Leda’s smile was serene. “Hello, Sora. Actually, this was an impromptu acknowledgment of pride in my daughter.” She lifted the hand that she’d linked with Mari so that the Clan was sure to see. “And part of that pride is that her gray eyes mark her as a Moon Woman candidate.”
“As do mine,” Sora said.
Mari stifled her irritated sigh and spoke up before her mother could respond. “Yes, but you’re usually so busy fluttering your eyelashes at our Clansmen that sometimes it’s hard to remember your eyes are gray.“
That is the world’s wordiest, shittiest burn.
- Mari is a Monster
- After her mother dies and she refuses to wash the Moon People: “This first. Then Mama. Then I’ll sketch Mama,” Mari said. Clutching the charcoal she started making notes about the screams. She realized she should have counted them, and made a separate note to herself about that—COUNT THE SCREAMS NEXT TIME. […] Writing about the direction the sounds seemed to come from, how long they lasted, and how it sounded like it was only one person screaming, and that it had definitely been a male voice.
“We’ll stay away from the southeast tomorrow,” she told Rigel.”
SO MATTER OF FACT. COUNT THE SCREAMS OF YOUR PPL’S SUFFERING.
- Threatens Sora’s life with mauling
- Re: Rigel: “So get used to him and stop acting like a silly Scratcher.”
“Don’t call me that!” Sora said, causing Rigel to give her a hard look as he bared his teeth at her. “See what I mean.” Sora pointed at the pup. “We can’t even have a conversation without him threatening me.”
Mari lifted a shoulder. “Be nice and he’ll stop doing that.”
Sora: “STOP CALLING ME SLURS”
Mari: “BE NICE AND I WON’T LET MY DOG MAUL U.”
- “I just met you and you enslave my people, but you’re totally my soul mate, Nik.”
- Mari is the specialest of specials, with her glowing gray-silver AND gold eyes.
- The glowing frond pattern, what is it with Cast and her dumb fucking tattoos?
- Still equating beauty with goodness/ugliness with evil
- Cannibal people women = ugly, dried-up HAGS
- Dove – “marred” beauty, sexypaleperfect except for her “cavernous”, empty eye sockets
- “Maeve turned to look up at the Guardian. Her face was still beautiful, even though it showed lines of age, loss, and regret.”
- Moon People Appearance (aka POC and blackface)
- Though Leda was Moon Woman, and the soul of the Clan, she was as plain in appearance as were most of her people. Leda was thick-browed, wide-nosed, and narrow-lipped. But in Mari’s sketch, her mother’s thin lips were lifted in a brilliant smile that was reflected in the one feature of hers that was truly remarkable, her wide, silver-gray eyes.
- This is so clearly the author stepping in to canonically tell us who is pretty according to our real-world (white supremacist) beauty standards. There is NO WAY a character like Mari would consider her MOTHER or her people “plain”, because she has NOBODY TO COMPARE THEM TO. Her standards of beauty would align with theirs, what the fuck kind of shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit writing is this?
- Describes her hair after dye as “dark and muddy, like brackish water. ‘Like the rest of the Scratchers’.”
- Paste “thickens her features” (says some variation of this phrase three times)
- Her default features described as: ‘Mari traced the line of her clean brow, delicate where her mother’s was thick, down her face to her high, well-formed cheekbones, then over her small, straight nose.‘
- “It showed a tall man whose facial features, except for his eyes, mimicked Mari’s. He was standing beside a waterfall smiling at a plain young woman.”
- “Mari wrapped her arms around herself as if to keep her heart from bursting from her chest. She wanted to run down the bank, take her place at her mother’s side, and once and for all claim her birthright without being frightened that she would be cursed for her fair hair and sunlight-absorbing skin.”
OH MY GOD.
- Nik re: Jenna: She was just so pitiful and ugly!
- Nik re: Mari: Her hair had been dark and matted — her skin the dirty, earthy color of all Scratchers
- Mari re: Nik: She looked from his hair to his face, and was even more intrigued. His features were so different from those of the Clansmen. Nik was more refined, with strong cheekbones and full lips. Had his jaw not been so square and his neck and shoulders not so powerfully built, Mari would have been tempted to call him pretty.
- Cast’s “progressive gender balance” is still gendered
- Earth Walkers all lived in burrows they created from the living earth, usually choosing difficult, hidden places for their homes. Women tended to group their burrows together. Men, even those who were mated, lived apart from the Clanswomen, as Night Fever made cohabitation as dangerous as it was difficult. But the Clan didn’t hide from one another. The women simply controlled day-to-day life—raising children, growing crops, weaving and counseling and lawmaking. Men hunted and served as protectors.
- Gender roles are rigidly divided, even live separately, have separate magical afflictions. Women are still domestic overseers, men are still “hunters/protectors”. No room for people who don’t fit the gender binary.
- Wonder if it’s like HoN where there’s no room for people of opposite gender who want to do “male things”/”women things”
- Moon People Affliction
- Men turn violent and rapey = racist depiction of men of color as “violent raping savage” stereotype. Somebody take away PC Cast’s pen and computer and fucking human being card.
- Women turn sad and depressed???
- THE POETRY (fucking kill me now)
- Moon Woman I proclaim myself to be
Greatly gifted I bare myself to thee.
Earth Mother aid me with your magick sight
Lend me strength on this full moon night.
Come, silver light—fill me to overflow
So those in my care, your healing will know.
- Sora is the real hero here
- “Finally. I’ve been trying to find you for days.” Sora glared at her as she tried to smooth her dirty shift and pulled leaves out of her long, tangled hair.
“I told you if you followed me I would kill you.”
“I know very well what you told me, and that’s why I didn’t follow you—though that was a very mean thing to say to me. But I forgive you because you were carrying your dead mother.”
- But Sora gets her “just punishment” for being a SLUT
- CONSTANTLY HUMBLED BEFORE/BY PROTAGONIST FOR HER SINS
- Home destroyed by men who knew where it was BC Sora hosted them in it, slutty mcslutslut
- Almost raped until Nik saves her
- “Mari and Nik turned to face her. Sora was standing by the hearth with a blanket wrapped around her, bruised and bloodied, but whole.”
PC CAST IS NOT A HUMAN BEING.
- Which is a character turning point re: Nik’s goodness, btw. Begs Nik’s forgiveness, AND HE HAS THE GAUL TO “FORGIVE” HER.
THAT IS THIS BOOK’S SHIT DYNAMICS. Sora thinks it’s better to let Nik – a member of the clan who enslaves and kills them for sport – die, and SHE’S in the wrong. SHE later has to be saved BY HIM from HER PEOPLE, and then beg for HIS forgiveness for not being willing initially to save his life.
- Nik shows his in-ness by asking Rigel to “bite Sora just a little bit for him”, similar to how Stark was always taking Aphrodite down a peg.
- Wants to be Moon Woman so she won’t get left alone, which is WAY MORE INTERESTING MOTIVATION THAN JUST BEING NICE.
- Thinks Companions are ugly, which is an ACCURATE STANDARD OF BEAUTY.
- LEGIT QUESTION: Do we like Cast’s Mean Girls more BC the narrative doesn’t act like they’re perfect? Are they genuinely well-written, or do we just like them more because they’re the only ones with the balls to be mean to the MCs?
- The only good part
- “Rigel looked up at Sora and then sneezed all over her mostly empty bowl of stew.
“Oh, yuck. The creature is disgusting.” She plopped the bowl in front of the pup. Wagging, his tail, he gulped the rest of her sneeze-covered stew.”
- This is only good bc my dog would totally do this if he were smart enough