January 26, 2015

My Top Favorite Characters

I like making lists and I thought it would be fun to list my top favorite characters. This is in no particular order. The numbers are just there for better organization and so the post will look better. I also added a bunch of pictures of the characters because it was hard just choosing one. Most of these are from TV shows and a lot of them are cartoons...  But I feel animated things tend to be more thought-out in general. So without further ado, here are my all time favorite characters:

Severus Snape
Harry Potter

Ah, yes. Harry Potter. Our new — celebrity.

Well I'm pretty sure everyone loves Snape. Snape proves to you again and again that he is a good person despite what he appears to be. I really like his Patronus, not because it was Lily's, but because it kinda suits Snape. It shows there is a kind side to him and that's his true nature. That doesn't necessarily mean that he's without flaws, he tends to be a bully and petty, but I think the good wins out with him.  I think the movie version pulled off Snape way better though, the subtle changes to his character and lines made such a difference. Another reason the movie adaptation was probably better was because the actor, Alan Rickman, said: "I don't play villains. I play interesting people."

Seto Kaiba 
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters

"If I had a dime for every time you said the word 'destiny,' I'd be even richer."

Kaiba is stubborn, proud, and only relies on himself. He owns a gaming company. He's obsessed with his Blue-Eyes White Dragon card and tends to laugh maniacally. Kaiba isn't a villain, but he isn't a good person either, which puts him in an interesting position. He's the main character's rival and what's really great about both of them is that they go head-to-head, there isn't one that is noticeably lesser. Something I just noticed about Kaiba is that he has the whole "white is not good" concept going on. Kaiba is hilarious to watch, there isn't a moment that's boring when he's on screen.

3 Rochelle Rock
Everybody Hates Chris

"I'll put my foot so far up your behind that you'll have toes for teeth."

Ah, Rochelle. Rochelle is based off the mother of comedian Chris Rock. Rochelle wants the best for her kids and has her own, very strict, way of raising them. But unlike most mother characters I've seen, Rochelle's whole identity doesn't revolve around her kids. She has a personality and interests outside them. In a nutshell, Rochelle is absolutely hilarious. She's a snob, she's stubborn, no one can go head-to-head with her and hope to win. Rochelle is very difficult, to say the least, but she is a good person at the end of day I think.

One-Punch Man
One-Punch Man

"After about one and a half years of training, I noticed two changes about myself. I had lost all my hair and I had become strong. "

One-Punch Man seems to be a parody of shonen heroes. Shonen heroes are loud, obnoxious, losers, and underdogs (much like YA heroines), but One-Punch Man is the opposite of them where it matters most. Fighting. Shonens have this stupid habit of long and drawn out fights that guys seem to be into. One-Punch Man, very self explanatory, can defeat opponents in one punch. One-Punch Man is hilarious. His feats are hilarious, his level of stupidity and apathy are also extremely hilarious. He and his self proclaimed apprentice, Genos, are basically a two man comedy duo that hold this manga up.
5 Squidward Tentacles
Spongebob Squarepants

"Why must every eleven minutes of my life be filled with misery?"

OK, need I say more? Squidward is one of the most dimensional characters I've seen, which is funny because he's an octopus. He's grumpy and hates the happy Spongebob, but we all know he really doesn't. It's obvious why Squidward is such an awesome character, because over everything, they empathized his personality. Squidward is my favourite Spongebob character.

6 Yami Yugi
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters

"You can't ignore where you came from. Don't you know, it's our past that determines who we are. It's our history that shapes our future, Kaiba."

Yami Yugi is an ancient Egyptian Spirit who's trying to find his memories. He talks grandly and is full of courage and wisdom. He's the King of Games and I think him and Kaiba basically hold up the show between them. The conclusion to his story was easily the best (and most epic) I've seen.

7 Miriam
Prince of Egypt

"Moses, hear what I say. I have been a slave all my life and God has never answered my prayers until now. God saved you from the river, he saved you in all your wanderings, and even now he saved you from the wrath of Pharaoh. God will not abandon you. So don't you abandon us."

No disrespect to the Prophet Moses, but I felt Miriam was the real hero in this adaption of Moses' story. Moses kept quitting, probably because that's what "main characters" do, but Miriam never lost faith, which was quite obviously the theme of the movie. Miriam is sweet and above all she has faith, she's always had faith, which makes her a very strong person. My favourite song from the movie was "When You Believe", which was sung by her. It's beautiful and one of my favourite songs.

8 Mr. Krabs
Spongebob Squarepants

"Sandy: I'll catch your worm for ya, that is, if'n you're willing to pay! 

Mr. Krabs: No!!!!!!! You'll never get a cent out of me! [runs to block the cash register with his body] Never! I'd rather that worm come in here right now and eat you all alive!!! [begins foaming at the mouth; the crowd looks at him strangely; he calms down] Sorry."

Mr. Krabs loves money to such hilarious and ridiculous degrees. I always thought Mr. Krabs seemed like a decent person (or crab?) despite his fatal flaw of greed, like how he mentors Spongebob and Patrick in some episodes. I also think the idea of a penny-pinching crab is cute. I think why the Spongebob characters were so good and realistic was because they were so exaggerated. 

9 Quicksilver
X-Men Evolution

"May I remind you losers that Magneto put me in charge of this group for a reason? The only chance you have of joining his new group is if you guys can prove you can work together as a team. And that, my friends, takes leadership. Strong, decisive, fearless- WANDA! Don't tell her I'm here! [Quicksilver hides in a closet as Scarlet Witch storms into the Brotherhood home.]"

X-Men Evolution is the most inconsistent show ever when it comes to writing the characters, which is a bit weird for me to put Quicksilver on here. I've always liked speedsters, it's a fun power, and they make some fun characters. What I liked about Quicksilver was that he didn't just run fast, he also had this chipmunk voice because he talked so fast. He was easily the best character of the series and I liked him and the Brotherhood's relationship as well as his relationship with his father Magneto and his sister, the Scarlet Witch. I would have easily added the Scarlet Witch on this list, if they hadn't butchered her later on.

10 Genos
One-Punch Man

"Genos: (Reading comments seriously off a computer screen) 
"He's a promising genius new comer that debuted as a Class S hero at the age of 19."
"He's handsome."
"I like how he refuses to talk to the media at all. It's cool."
"He's my cyborg prince."
"I can sense a fragility behind his cold, metal expressionless exterior."
"He's among my  top 5 favorite attractive heroes.

And so forth, as there is a lot written there.

One-Punch Man: Are you not embarrassed to read out things like that about yourself?

Genos: As the people only wrote down their impressions after looking at a picture of me and don't really know anything about me, I don't particularly care."

....Genos really doesn't have any shame. Genos has it all: he's heroic, has looks, is intelligent, and is strong. But this manga is a comedy and he tends to be serious to hilarious degrees. He's also One-Punch Man's apprentice and is ridiculously loyal and clingy to him, which is also funny. These two make such a hilarious duo.  

11 Dagur the Deranged
Dragons: Riders of Berk

"Dagur: Oh, you want some of this, Gronckle? How ‘bout you, Nadder? Hyah! That's right plead, plead for your pathetic dragon life! 
Gobber: He's really got a handle on that whole "deranged" thing."

When I first watched the episode with Dagur, I immediately loved his character and was so entertained. He's the leader of the Berserkers after he "disposed" of his father. Dagur is bloodthirsty, cunning, and well, deranged. His speaking style and mannerisms were really well done. He's just so unique.

12 Patrick Star
Spongebob Squarepants

"Dumb people are always blissfully unaware of how dumb they really are."

I find Patrick kinda cute, don't you? Patrick is a simple character: he's stupid. There isn't anything going on up there. Like Squidward and Mr. Krabs, Patrick is still pretty dimensional and he's very exaggerated and a fun character. 

13 Aika Fuwa
Blast of Tempest

"Everything happens for a reason. The daily tragedies and misfortunes are all meaningful events, leading toward an ideal conclusion. With that in mind, there probably isn't really any meaningless misfortune."

Aika's key feature is that she's very intelligent. She's also very overdramatic, appreciates Shakespearean works, and tends to have a pretty bad attitude. Despite her bad attitude, Aika is selfless and an extremely good person. Her whole character was told through a mystery and I think that made her all the more compelling and interesting to get to know. 

14 Claude Frollo
The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Judge Claude Frollo longed to purge the world of vice and sin. And he saw corruption everywhere, except, within.

Frollo is a complex character. He's righteous, hates sin, and believes in generally good ideals but, well I think that quote does a pretty good job of explaining his character. 

15 Zane Truesdale
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX

"[Chazz steals the Spirit Keys to force Alexis to duel him] Zane: Anyone up for just tackling him?"

Lately I've wanted to see a cool character who's good. I think Zane does a good job of that. He is cool but one of his defining traits is that he's supposed to be a rival and the best at what he does, but he doesn't look down on others just because he is.  He does tend to have a sharp tongue but he is unquestionably a good guy. With that in mind, I hate what they did to him later on. He was a pretty great character, I guess they just couldn't write him. I think what most people don't understand is that good characters are hard to write. They're hard to write because they have a very specific way of doing anything and you can't bend that to work with the plot. But character driven beats plot driven in a heartbeat.

16 Zuko
Avatar: The Last Airbender

"I finally have you, but I can't get you home because of this blizzard. There's always something. Not that you would understand. You're like my sister. Everything always came easy to her. She's a firebending prodigy, and everyone adores her. My father says she was born lucky. He says I was lucky to be born. I don't need luck, though. I don't want it. I've always had to struggle and fight and that's made me strong. It's made me who I am."

If any of you are familiar with Avatar: The Last Airbender, then you probably noticed that these are only season one Zuko pictures. Zuko in season one was competent, intelligent, and a skilled fighter. Like the above quote, he didn't hate the world because his life wasn't easy, he preferred it that way. The later seasons butchered his character, they made him incompetent, unintelligent, and an awful fighter. I just rewatched Avatar and I'll tell you, I didn't realize how good his character was in the beginning and how much they ruined him later on.

17 Neil
Class of the Titans

"Enough with doing good, time for me to get back to just looking good!"

Neil is the direct descendant of Narcissus. So you've probably figured out he's extremely vain and in love with himself. Neil proves that he does care about his friends, and that he is a hero, which makes him layered. He's also a  really funny character and he has the power of luck. 

18 Kyoko Mogami
Skip Beat!

"If “forgive me" would make up for everything then we wouldn't need hell!"

Kyoko is the protagonist of Skip Beat! and an aspiring actress. You can say her entire character is based around "Hell has no fury like a woman scorned". She can unleash vengeful spirits on people and is quite wrathful and vengeful. She's also a great actress, and usually plays villain roles. Kyoko is a great and hilarious character overall, but I do think the romance with her strained and even dulled an otherwise amazing character.

19 Theresa 
Class of the Titans

"I was a black belt when I was twelve. While other rich girls were bored, I was restless."

Theresa is a direct descendant of Theseus. She is the fighter of the group and is extremely competent. I think they did such a great job on her character because they didn't want to make her a hated rich girl character and they didn't. 

January 22, 2015

Why I Hate YA

This will be a long post, a long rant I guess, but I wanted to get it out of my system and sort out my feelings.

Now I've been reading YA since I was 15, ever since it started becoming a very popular thing. That's six years. Technically I am still within the YA age group, but man I really am starting to get disgusted with this genre. If you've been reading my reviews, you'll see that this past year I've been giving a lot of them low ratings. Now all genres have flaws, I think genres are all awful in their own unique and special ways, but I've been reading mostly YA and that's what I'll be ranting about.

People claim that YA is about the teenage experience. That it's about "firsts". First what per say? When you were a teenager did you get your first laugh or your first tears? No, that was when you were a baby. First friend? Naw probably when you were four or five. First family? Naw always had those. First time you felt you were treated unfairly? Nope. First time you felt afraid, sad, happy, hopeful, etc. No. In YA what teenage experience are they highlighting? It's no lie that YA is about romance. 

So if YA is about "firsts". Then can we safety say it's about relationships? That's the main thing that defines you differently than when you were a child. So YA is about the first boyfriend, the first kiss, and the first time you have sex. It's about relationships. It's about romances.

So we have an entire genre dedicated to the teenage experience of relationships and sex.

Yeah, that sounds about right, but let's call it "romance". 

Now there are teenage issues out there I guess like bullying, drugs, etc but I don't think those would make very good books nor would I want to read about them. Before anybody starts getting mad, I'd like to make it clear that when I was a teenager I was extremely troubled and unhappy and not wanting to read those kind of books says a lot. Considering that is not what the bulk of YA books are about, nobody seems to care much about these issues anyway. No, I wanted to read something that would make me feel happy and entertained and I still do I guess, but YA doesn't do that.

The entire YA genre is based around wish fulfillment. It's about insecure "normal" girls and a hot guy suddenly takes notice of her, granting the normal girl some kind of happiness and fulfillment in life.

Now, what the hell is wrong with this picture?

Reading YA as a teenager didn't make me feel better about my life, it made me feel worse. It made me ignore it. I was addicted to YA. I would read 100s of these books. It made me ignore it, it made me more unhappy, and it made me obsessed with romance when I never really much cared for it.

Girls self insert themselves into this flat main character. She has general traits like she's "nice" or a bit "feisty". Point is, she barely has any traits and the ones she has are mild, so you can ignore her enough to self insert yourself into her. 

The first person narrative really helps and a lot of YA books are written from first person. It's not "she said". It's "I said". In first person you are looking through the main character's eyes and unconsciously people insert themselves into them. It's not like you can't self insert yourself with third person, but third person is generally clearer.

The main thing is that, on purpose, authors are trying to portray "normal girls". Did you know that Stephanie Meyer gave Bella very general traits so that girls could more easily insert themselves into her? I guess what Stephanie Meyer didn't realize is that she had also inserted herself into this character.

Considering YA became popular because of Twilight, nobody considers how much all the books are a knock off of it. Female main characters are as much self inserts as Bella, but people admit to Twilight being a horrible piece of literature because it is widely criticized and you can't deny it. I think some girls still like it but are embarrassed to admit it. I wonder why?

So we have a lot of girls reading YA. I'm sure a lot of them are insecure. Are you helping this insecurity by rewarding this flat character? Are you telling girls to ignore the things they don't like about themselves? Are you telling them that as long as a hot guy starts liking them that their life will be happy?

Because it won't

You will never be happy if you're not happy with yourself. It doesn't matter how appealing the guy is. It doesn't matter how much status, looks, and money he has because if you don't like yourself, how do you expect others to? And even if they did, why the hell does this guy like this whiny, self centered, flat, and one-dimensional character in the first place?  

No one can make you happy. You have to be happy with yourself. If there's something you don't like about yourself, then change it. If you want to be happier or kinder or smarter or stronger, then try your best to be. Because if you do try your hardest, I guarantee you will be.

These flat and one dimensional characters are an insult to every girl out there. Because you can't make a "normal girl". There isn't such a thing. People are too different. We have different experiences, different families, different lifestyles, different personalities, different traits - bad and good, and different things we want. 

I notice that there's a lot of hate toward female characters in fiction. The simple truth is they deserve that hate. People cannot write female characters, the number one reason is they're trying to write a "normal girl". What the hell is that? What the hell is a normal girl and why the hell would you want to put that in your book? All these girls do is continue to make girls feel insecure about themselves. 

Please try to make girl characters have a personality. Give them good traits and bad. Don't make them funny, make them hilarious. Don't make them smart, make them intelligent. Stress their traits, make it clear what they are. Stress their flaws too. You can make them vain, proud, harsh, etc. Characters should inspire you. They should inspire you to be better or they should at least inspire to not what to be. 

This advice by Aaron Ehasz is golden:

Another thing I hate about females in fiction is that they are defined by their relationship. The most common ones are love interests. How many female characters can you name that don't have a love interest? How many males can you name that don't? The difference is shocking. And I don't mean just ones in YA, I mean all characters in fiction. 

Let's look at Harry Potter. Here are the female characters that aren't part of a relationship: Mcgonagall. That's it. Now how much males can you name?

Another example I see are mothers. I'm sure at some point you can be a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, or a friend but none of these relationships define you. You are an individual. You are defined by who you are. 

I don't know where this nonsense started. It might have started from male main characters with all the female characters being in relation to him, you know: love interest, mother, sister, etc. They're not much of a character outside that.

God I hate main characters too. Who likes main characters? Just a note because this took me a really long time to figure out. They tell you don't write villains but write antagonists. Wonderful advice, really helped me. What they don't tell you and I don't think it's crossed many people's minds is that you don't have to write a main character. You can write heroes, but don't write main characters because the world doesn't revolve around one person. Are Bella and Katniss heroes? Hell, no. But are they main characters? Yes, of course they are. They fit the bill beautifully.

I don't see the point of YA even being a genre. I don't believe in the "in between" of childhood and adulthood. When you know what's right and wrong and can be held accountable that's when you're considered an adult. 

Now there are many types of relationships in real life but YA chooses to stress romance.

How about your parents who are selfless when it comes to you? What about your family? Does your romantic relationship mean more than them?

Good friends are hard to come by, but there are people who have great friends that always stick by them. Do romantic relationships mean more?

There are other relationships out there too, some people don't have a great family but they find a family in others. What about comrades in arms? What about mentors and students?

I've seen cute old couples who've been together for ages and find their relationship wonderful, but in life romantic relationships are not the most important. 

They're all equally important.

But YA chooses to stress romance in the form of wish fulfillment. It's not healthy and it's not right. It insults girls by its portrayals of them. It encourages girls to ignore their flaws or even accept them. It tells them that if you find the right guy their lives will be fulfilled and they'll be happy. This is not what fiction should be about. Fiction inspires and entertains and YA just doesn't do that. 

This is advice from Patrick Rothfuss and I think it can apply to YA just as much as fantasy. More importantly I think he hits the nail on the head with the problem of female characters in fiction:

That's my long rant. I'd love to hear your opinions in the comment section.

January 21, 2015

October, November, and December Haul

One of my favourite manga series. It's losing its quality sadly, as it stops focusing on the main character and moves to her annoying love interest.

I'm waiting for all the volumes to be released, so I can read it all in a row. There should only be 2-3 volumes left.
Last volume of The Infernal Devices manga adaption. The art is horrible but they're kinda funny to read through.
  • Olympos by Aki (Thanks to Yen Press)
This is a stand alone manga volume. I don't read much of those, so I thought it could be fun.
I've been excited for this one to come out. I don't really like the art but I hope the story will be decent. 
  • Alphonse Mucha by Agnes Husslein-Arco, Jean Louis Gaillemin, Michel Hilaire, and Christiane Lange (Thanks to Prestel Publishing)
This is a complete artbook of Mucha's work. I really like his posters but he did other interesting things like jewelry design and Czech art.
Fourth and last book in the Widdershins Adventures series. I still need to read the third one but I'm curious where the story will go next.
  • Lowball by George R.R. Martin (Editor) and Melinda M. Snodgrass (Editor) (Thanks to Tor)
This one doesn't really sound that interesting to me. If anyone has read it, what did you think?

These were freebies for participating in Raincoast Book's Teens Read Spring Preview. 

  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Thanks to Raincoast Books)
  • Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (Thanks to Raincoast Books)
  • Cress by Marissa Meyer (Thanks to Raincoast Books)
I won these in one of the giveaways in Raincoast Book's Teens Read Spring Preview. They're all signed and I was so excited to get them! Thanks so much Raincoast Books! :)

January 20, 2015

2014 Reading Challenges Recap

2014 Sequel Reading Challenge

Read: 10/40 Sequels INCOMPLETE

Click on the titles to see my review:
  1. Of Triton by Anna Banks (The Syrena Legacy #2)
  2. Cress by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #3)
  3. Fracture Me by Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me #2.5)
  4. Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me #3)
  5. Belladonna by Fiona Paul (Secrets of the Eternal Rose #2)
  6. The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson (Fire and Thorns #2
  7. Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3)
  8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter #2
  9. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha #2)
  10. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter #3

2014 Goodreads Reading Challenge

Read: 27/100 Books INCOMPLETE

Click on the titles to see my review:
  1. Arcadia Awakens by Kai Meyer
  2. All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry
  3. Of Triton by Anna Banks  
  4. Cress by Marissa Meyer 
  5. Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule
  6. Fracture Me by Tahereh Mafi 
  7. Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi  
  8. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  9. Belladonna by Fiona Paul  
  10. Sabriel by Garth Nix
  11. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  12. Vicious by V.E. Schwab
  13. The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson  
  14. The Ring and The Crown by Melissa de la Cruz
  15. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  16. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
  17. The Wizard’s Promise by Cassandra Rose Clarke
  18. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  19. Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor  
  20. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
  21. Fairies by Yoshitaka Amano
  22. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
  23. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
  24. In the Shadows by Kiersten White and Jim Di Bartolo
  25. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling  
  26. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
  27. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling  

I didn't manage to complete any of my challenges. This year has easily been my worst reading year. I read so many awful books and I don't think I'll be reading that regularly any time soon. I find these challenges pointless and, from now on, I'll just be reading whenever I feel like it. 

January 19, 2015

My Top Ten Books Read in 2013

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 
by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone 
by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 
by J.K. Rowling

by William Shakespeare

Shadow and Bone 
by Leigh Bardugo

by Marissa Meyer

Strange Sweet Song 
by Adi Rule

Siege and Storm 
by Leigh Bardugo

My Review

Arcadia Awakens 
by Kai Meyer

by Garth Nix

My Review