It’s no big revelation that I have a thing for story retellings. It’s not the re-hash that I like, it’s that I love some fairy tales so much, that reading them in new and varied permutations brings back the joy that I had reading and re-reading my Grimm’s as a child. My favorites (like many other fairy tale aficionados) are Cinderella and Snow White. No surprise, my agent is currently shopping a Middle Grade novel based on my retelling of a Cinderella-y Caribbean folktale.
So picking up Meyer’s Cinder was no stretch. I was intrigued immediately by the setting in “New Beijing” many years in the future. And then my daughter snagged it while I was otherwise occupied, and I didn’t get it back for a week.
So I started it again. Spoiler alert! There’s no glass slipper. The symbol of fragility would be out of place in this version where a plot filled with political and personal intrigue and twists that makes readers bend and crush and rip pages from excitement, horror, desperation, and the rest of the emotional gamut. At least I can only assume that’s the excuse for my book looking the way it did when my daughter returned it. I would have protested, but after getting a few more pages in, I found myself gripping the edges of the book too as if it was some kind of portal that I was trying to sink into. I finished the book yesterday and had meant to pick up the sequel, Scarlet, today. Alas, I didn’t make it to the bookstore (much to the chagrin of my daughter, who I assume will be pre-reading my book for me. Again). If you haven’t read it yet, do.
But I promised you a rant. And here it is.
Cinder is set in New Beijing. Cinder, by all accounts, is white. And if there was one more mention of a person with blue eyes, I was going to lose my gourd. This seems to be a new trend in literature–the locale is “exotic,” but the hero, European. Which leaves the indigenous people of the chosen locale to play second fiddle to the main character, and add color, spice if you will, to the backdrop. Frankly, I’m tired of it.
While I can’t blame any one author for doing what they think is right with their own story, I rage at the collection of literature that for years has pushed people of color aside, and now, when it seems as though we are getting more progressive with more characters of varied hues and cultures, they’re still not quite in the limelight, are they? Maybe their native homes are deemed worthy of descriptions so nuanced that they could be considered characters themselves, but the people? Scenery.
On behalf of readers everywhere (yes, all, because to shuffle some of us off to the sides is to do a disservice to all of us) I’d just like to say: For the love of God, Allah, Ganesha, Someone/thing else entirely, or no One at all, please stop that crap. It’s hurtful.
Thanks. (And happy reading.)