Sex and Destruction in Shatter Me

I’ve written a little bit previously about Young Adult literature. It’s a ripe field for the pickings, with its mainstream appeal as well as a litany of problematic story elements. It also can be really addictive. Most of the genre is leaning towards science fiction/fantasy at the moment, centering on young women in impossible situations, with fast-moving plots and titillating romances. The YA market has become one of my favorite indulgences.

Enter Shatter Me, written by youthful and beautiful new author Tahereh Mafi, one of the most anticipated releases of last year, already with two sequels (the novella Destroy Me, and the second part in the planned trilogy Unravel Me which dropped last week), and the movie rights sold before the first book’s release. It is the story of a 17-year-old girl named Juliette Ferrars with an uncontrollable and isolating ability – she can kill with a touch. To make matters worse, Juliette lives in a world that has depleted its resources and poisoned its atmosphere, leaving it open for an organization called The Reestablishment to come in and take control and hoard what’s left. When the novel opens, Juliette has been imprisoned in some sick hell house version of a mental institution for close to a year, barely clinging to her identity, wishing for freedom and love.

Shatter Me is the type of YA fantasy that is light on world building and high on emotion and elaborate prose. It’s not perfect, to say the least. What I found fascinating about the novel though was its implications about sexuality.

What’s immediate striking to me is how the novel as a real sense of sexuality and sensuality. A personality, shall we say. However, there is also a theme of dominance and violence that colors this, and creates a character that is both heavily defined by her sexuality and by actions put upon her. As she learns to connect with people for the first time in her life, Juliette is repeatedly defined as an object, seen as something others can use and act upon, even in a relationship that supposed to healthy and loving. Through the story elements as well as the dialogue and prose, a picture is painted of a sexual landscape fed by power struggles and destructive passions. It’s also an important aspect of the novel, as this is a story about a young woman who can either create or destroy with a touch.

(Spoilers for Shatter Me and Destroy Me under the cut)

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6 Bad Ass Females the Winchesters Should Meet

For the past couple of months I have been entrenched in Supernatural, a show I was a full seven seasons behind in (only two now) and became very quickly obsessed with. The fact that I haven’t written about it on here yet is pretty remarkable, as its occupied so much of my brain, but the truth is there hasn’t been much point. Talking about gender issues in Supernatural is a bit like commenting that grass is green. It’s a sexist show. Period.

The problem isn’t only with Supernatural, of course, the issue of institutionalized, pervasive misogyny is latent in our cultural language. However, Supernatural, with its Americana Midwestern aesthetic and extravagantly butch dudebro emotionality is a glaring example. Female characters are relegated to either blonde waifish fridge stuffing or evil harpies in tight pants with their cleavage pushed up in their chins. To fully document the problem would fill up a dissertation, nevermind a blog post.

So, I decided to take a different approach to talking about this. If you have an imagination anything like mine, then you thrive on mashups and crossovers. For me, the best way to move along an idea is to take a character or element from someone else’s work, and see what happens. So with Supernatural’s serious lacking of impressive female characters, I keep finding myself inserting some of my favorites from other stories. So, I’d like to share my list of 6 (yes 6, because whatever) Bad Ass Females the Winchesters (and Cas) Should Meet.

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He’s Not a Bad Boy If He’s Just Bad

I wouldn’t exactly call myself a fangirl. But nevertheless, I’m pretty excited about the upcoming release of the second book in the Divergent Trilogy, Insurgent. The first book had its flaws but was still incredibly engaging.

I’ve only just dipped my toe in the Divergent fandom, a group that still developing itself. While there’s some cool stuff happening there, there’s stuff also that’s a little upsetting.

I’m not trying to get involved in shipping war. I don’t really care about romance in books, and people can like whatever couples they want. But there’s a common pairing that’s freaking me out. Frequently, I keep coming across reviews or posts that express a wish to see something develop between the main character Tris and one of her primary antogonists, Peter. My reaction to this is generally

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