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text 2016-11-07 18:23
The Controversy Surrounding The Continent by Keira Drake

I still have a couple of real *top shelf* titles atop my TBR pile I need to get to- been busy and all- and wasn't looking for more.  But then I stumbled across the shitstorm surrounding this high-touted offering, and... well, I'm weak. 

 

For her sixteenth birthday, Vaela Sun receives the most coveted gift in all the Spire—a trip to the Continent. It seems an unlikely destination for a holiday: a cold, desolate land where two “uncivilized” nations remain perpetually at war. Most citizens tour the Continent to see the spectacle and violence of battle—a thing long vanished in the Spire. For Vaela—a smart and talented apprentice cartographer—it is an opportunity to improve upon the maps she’s drawn of this vast, frozen land.

But an idyllic aerial exploration is not to be had: the realities of war are made clear in a bloody battle seen from the heli-plane during the tour, leaving Vaela forever changed. And when a tragic accident leaves her stranded on the Continent, she has no illusions about the true nature of the danger she faces. Starving, alone, and lost in the middle of a war zone, Vaela must try to find a way home—but first, she must survive.

 

**********************************************************************************************

 

In case you haven't heard, by all accounts this one hits all the marks: non-whites depicted as savage brutes, blonde white savior to teach them their humanity, etc.  Not surprisingly in today's climate when non-white women voiced their concerns about things they were targeted and attacked.  And only them.

 

If you're curious, here's a twitter timeline for the hashtag #TheContinent where you can see some of what's been happening.

 

YA author Justina Ireland did a series of tweets capsulizing the book here.

 

It's gotten to the point where Drake herself felt she had to address things, but some of what she says didn't help matters any.

 

"I am saddened by the recent controversy on Twitter pertaining to THE CONTINENT. I abhor racism, sexism, gender-ism, or discrimination in any form, and am outspoken against it, so it was with great surprise and distress that I saw the comments being made about the book. I want everyone to know that I am listening, I am learning, and I am trying to address concerns about the novel as thoughtfully and responsibly as possible.

 

 The Topi, one of the native peoples who inhabits the Continent, were inspired by the Uruk-Hai in Lord of the Rings. LotR is one of my favorite books, and the savage, brutal nature of the Uruk-Hai breaks my heart every time I read it, which is at least once per year. The Topi are a savage people—they are in no way inspired by or meant to represent Native Americans. Like many, I am a person of mixed nationality and race (Sicilian, Native American, French, Irish, Danish), and take great interest and pride in my ancestry.

 

In regard to the Aven’ei, this fictional group of people was inspired by a large number of cultures, including Asian and European peoples. The language of the Aven’ei is phonetically similar to Japanese; that is purely because as a linguist who studies four languages, I find it absolutely beautiful, musical, perfect in sound. The Aven’ei are not Japanese. Nor are they Korean, or Chinese, nor are they based on an assumption that Asian cultures are interchangeable. They are a fantasy race: brave, intense, flawed, invented. The diverse peoples of the Spire itself are widely varied. This book is a fantasy novel, not intended to represent the cultures of our world, but to express the diversity of appearance in life which is natural and beautiful.

 

Any likeness of the fantasy cultures in the book to actual cultures was unintentional, and was not brought to my attention by a large number of early sensitivity readers. THE CONTINENT was written with a single theme in mind: the fact that privilege allows people to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others. It is not about a white savior, or one race vs. another, or any one group of people being superior to any other. Every nation, and every character in the book is flawed.

 

 I am truly sorry for any descriptive choices that distracted from my intended message and that hurt or offended any readers, and I want everyone to know that I am working with my publisher to address this issue; the way that this will be addressed is currently being discussed and I will provide more information when I have it.

 

One last note: I have heard through Twitter that some critics of the book have received threatening messages, and I am **appalled** by the very idea of such a thing. I welcome criticism and would ask that my readers and supporters treat others ONLY with respect, love, and compassion. Be good to each other, please. Love one another. If I could ask one thing of you, that’s all it would be."

 

Yeah... basing your non-white cultures on Tolkien's orcs isn't gonna impress folks with your good intentions.  Just sayin'.

 

Anyways, my copy arrived today and I'll probably flog it to give a sense of what's really going on.

 

 

 

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text 2015-06-23 18:01
Reading progress update: I've read 45%.
Promise of Shadows - Justina Ireland

this is so so good and I've been so so busy! 

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review 2014-12-27 23:58
Promise of Shadows - Justina Ireland

Gods, Goddesses, Heroes and prophecies. These are a few of my favorite things. 

This was a fun read. I've always loved Hades and the dark side of mythology and Zephyr Mourning, Godslayers tale is enveloped in darkness. And hot guys. 

If you're in the mood for mythology, pick up Promise of Shadows.

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review 2014-07-29 22:16
People of color in Greek Mythology? Did the world end?
Promise of Shadows - Justina Ireland

I found out about this book through a blog post on Diversity in YA. I was intrigued on how a book about Greek mythology would incorporate diversity, when many associate the Greeks with "white." In some ways I agree with this, but on the other hand, my sister's recent obsession with "The Percy Jackson" series has left me at a stand still. Fictional white gods shouldn't be a viable excuse for the lack of diversity, and "Promise of Shadows" is definitely proof that characters being different races doesn't take away from these "fictional" myths.

Promise of Shadows follows the exploits of Zephyr Mourning, a harpy, who was sentenced to an eternity in Tartarus, due to her finding out the means to kill a god. I should mention it was a minor god, but being a vaettir(I take this as anything supernatural that is not a god), she shouldn't have this strong power, but there were many events that lead up to this moment.

I think where this book struggled for me was points of world building. Mind you, if you are familiar with Greek mythology, it may not be an issue. But I believe you have to also be a teeny familiar Norse mythology as well, as many of the terms they uses are in fact from Norse mythology. I just happen to be a Norse myth buff, so I instantly recognized words that looked Scandinavian to me. But there were two things that bothered me, because they're not explicitly explained. It doesnt hold the story back at all, so this is not an insult or jab of any kind.

But terms "Aethereal" and "Exaulted" were thrown around a bunch, and for the most part, many gods mentioned were both, but it doesnt explain exactly what makes an Aethereal "Exaulted." My knowledge of Greek mythology leads me to believe Aethereal is a term meant only for gods. I took the "Exaulted" as the big guys on campus. You know? Hermes, Zeus, Hades, Hera, etc. But it doesnt explain, but it could just be because the author is attempting allow the audience the intelligence to come up with these ideals on their own?

Some of the pacing was a little off, but only because there were many times Zephyr would speak off focus. Her love interest Tallon? I don't mind a main character having the hots for a guy, but many times, there seemed to be too much time spent on telling me how hot he was, and how much she was attracted to him. I think I would've complained less if more time would've been spent on their relationship. Physical attraction is only one part of attraction. So if there had been more moments that proved why she liked him so much, outside of seeing and imagining his washboard abs, you coulda sold me :D

Now with that out the way, I think this is the first book in the fantasy genre that I literally just loved. Books can have their faults but you still feel connected to them. Zephyr was totally relatable. I mean, as relatable as one can be when she's a harpy and wanted by the gods for murdering a god. She wasnt perfect, and I liked her through her unsureness and flaws. I could totally see myself in her situation if I were a mythological creature many of the gods already hated. She was so human by the relationship she shared with her sister. I cant say that I would have done anything different if someone had killed my sister.

Zephyr had untapped abilities that wanted to manifest, but just never had the right time to, and she wasnt allowed to use this power, because it was of the "shadows" and a prophecy states a warrior of darkness will come and save everyone from the tyranny of the gods. I think this could be a metaphor for just knowing you have talent, but being afraid to use it, in fear you'll be judged. Or accused of showing off, or any other reason you might find not to tap into the things that make you special and different.

And lets not ignore this fact. Zephyr a sista ;p She had what I interpreted as blue dreads, that were later a fro(explained in the book). She even specifically mentions (when encountering a shapeshifter) seeing a black girl with blue hair. It only dawns on her that she's looking at herself(as the shapeshifter turned into her).

But many times, women of color are always left out of the conversation of whether people of color are in science fiction and fantasy. I found her character refreshing, and making her a person of color doesn't take away from the story, so it makes absolutely no sense NOT to make her a person of color.

Her backstory is fleshed out well enough where I find out much of her history and why she is even able to wield dark magic. One of her parent's is a big dog, and while it should be obvious, it was still interesting to see how all that worked it's way into her present.

The conflict was definitely a highlight. She was prophesied to be the next "Nyx" a genderless term to describe a vaettir who could wield the dark power like a god, who would be the vaettir's hope at gaining freedom from the god's reign.

And I LOVED that Hera was the villain. I know because she's the god of marriage and the like, she gets this rap of being innocent and docile. But many forget she's a god. Who has a lousy husband. I mean, you don't get more vengeful than being married to the biggest gigaloo in Mount Olympus. I didnt see all the gods in this book, but Im interested to see where the story leads, as Aphrodite was depicted in a way I'd never seen her before(red head and total warrior princess). There were many elements that set it aside from other interpretations, but then again, I've yet to read Percy Jackson(my sister is currently reading it).

Eh, I dont really have any complaints Grammar and Writing Style wise. I dont want to waste paragraphs talking about it being an industry standard. Just know it blends dialogue with beats well, 90% of the time the POV is clear, and it's edited well. I mean, it's traditionally published.

Diversity. It has diversity. Much of it just isn't as explicit, since every character in the book aren't human. She had a surrogate mother named Nanda, who lead me to believe many harpies were in fact black. They all had coarse dreaded hair, and dark skin. So when someone didn't have dark skin, it was like a rabbit spoke or something. Nanda had a daughter named Alora. She wasn't a harpy, because her father's blood wasn't strong enough. So she seemed mixed race. And Tallon, her love interest(and Nanda's nephew) seemed to be mixed race/man of color. And his brother was obviously white.

There was a a lot of hidden diversity if you have an eye for how races are often described. I wish it were more explicit, but maybe it's just to give the audience the intelligence to think outside their "default" thinking.

I think it reminds me of a neighborhood in NY, where all you friends could be different races, and it doesn't bother you much. Multiculturalism shouldn't just be one thing, but how people of different backgrounds interact with each other.

I think the title is eye catching. It makes me wonder why it's called "Promise of Shadows." You dont really get it at first, but I think the title suits the book. The cover. I think it's pretty. Im just a little on the fence with books not being brave enough to highlight a woman of color protagonist. The cover is very alluring and pretty, but I think it could've also been pretty with a unique woman of the cover as well. :)

The character names. There wasnt a common name in the book! It's been a few weeks since I finished it, so I cant remember every name, but each time a new character was introduced, I felt like I was playing Final Fantasy XD

Character descriptions. This was a little shakey. I can interpret that much of the book is diverse. Tallon,his aunt and his cousin seemed like people of color. But since they're vaettir, they're not explicitly so. And it becomes difficult to tell because they were vaettir, so they may not uphold the way we see race as human beings. It took a while for Zephyr to be described in full, which I found appropriate. But sometimes readers dont interpret characters black when they see terms like "brown skin." As if it isnt obvious. XD

The actual score dips back and forth from a 3.5-3.75

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review 2014-05-26 06:08
Promise of Shadows
Promise of Shadows - Justina Ireland

A pretty enjoyable once and done kind of book. I could give it 3 stars, but...eh. Only real qualm was

that for Zephyr, it is "I'm in a relationship so we have to have sex" or nothing. Now, let's be clear, Zephyr is never so vulgar nor is it so blatantly stated. But lbr, if her and Tallon are making out and undressing and he backs off and says, *approximate quote* "Nope, we can't do this." (at which point I was applauding him), clearly he hates her and doesn't want to be in a relationship with her so she obviously needs to be pissed at him and cry herself to sleep.

Now imagine, if you can, a mix of this:



and this:


and you have my entire feelings about the aforementioned qualm.

(spoiler show)

 

So anyways. Not a proper review, but there isn't a whole lot else for me to say.

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