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catherinehaines

catherinehaines

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A Spy in the House
Y.S. Lee
Pacific Rim: The Official Movie Novelization
Alex Irvine
Crescendo - Becca Fitzpatrick Those who know me will know that if a book is for review I will do more than just make a good faith effort to finish it. I planned to finish Crescendo, I forced myself to pick it up again and again and keep going. But I woke up the morning after going to bed at page 208, took one look at Crescendo and decided that any book that made my stomach roll at the thought of reading was not one I was going to force myself to finish - although later I did flick through to the end, although that did not change my view on Crescendo.

I just could not take any more slut-shaming.

In Crescendo, slut-shaming is used in lieu of actual characterisation (apart from an inability to say the most ridiculous, pathetic and cliche attempts at insults) to 'show' the reader that Marcie is a character we are not supposed to like. It seemed every time Marcie appeared or was even brought up in discussion, we were reminded of how horrible she was through comments about her sexuality - she's called a ho, implied to offer sexual favours to boys in exchange for payment, and we're repeatedly reminded of how terrible she is compared to the pure and virginal Nora because of the way she acts around guys, through the way she dresses and more.

Marcie is not the only victim of poor characterisation, although she does suffer the worst due to slut-shaming. In Crescendo characterisation is flat all around, really, to the point where I felt some characters would find more purpose being used for origami than taking part in Crescendo. And where characters were not flat they were just unlikeable.

Nora: I don't understand why I am supposed to cheer for you as our 'heroine', considering some of the nasty, despicable things you confess to doing, the nasty comments you make about Marcie and Vee - who is supposed to be your best friend! - and the way you cannot take note of anything that might be relevant even if Dobby were to pop over from Harry Potter and dance about waving with the entire clue on a flag.

Patch: I still don't like you. It creeps me out the way you are supposed to be the love interest, given the way you treat Nora and others. To borrow a phrase from Ceilidh: you are the sort of character only a fist could love.

Vee: You don't deserve the nastiness and the fat-shaming that is constantly being directed at you, not to mention all the terrible things that happen to you as a result of other characters' bad decisions.

I saw some vague signs of a plot in the midst of the first half of Crescendo, but it was poorly paced or just plain overshadowed by Nora's constant whining or the focus on reminding us again how horrible Marcie was. But really, Crescendo could have had the most amazing plot ever and I still would not be able to finish it, due to the constant slut-shaming and, to a lesser extent, fat-shaming of characters.

As I mentioned at the start, I do make a good faith effort to finish every book I start, especially when that book comes for review (see my review of Wings by Aprilynne Pike), and Crescendo is the first book in a long long time that I have given up on. Slut-shaming is a serious matter and any novel that uses it to characterise its female antagonists - and, in fact, all female characters other than the protagonist - in lieu of character depth and development is not one that is worth my time finishing, and definitely not one I recommend. In fact I recommend the opposite.

 
And to finish this off, let me mangle a quote from Mean Girls: We have got to stop characterising our female antagonists as sluts and whores, and letting our heroines call them such and be elevated because they aren't sluts and whores. Because that just makes it seem okay for readers to call these characters - and then other girls - sluts and whores.

And that is simply not okay. It needs to stop.