Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Guilt and relaxation

Way back when I was in grad school, somebody sent around a list of jokes of the “You know you’re a redneck” type — The “You know you’re a grad student when” list.

Naturally this is now available on the internet, so HERE if you are interested.

The funniest one is You wonder if APA style allows you to cite talking to yourself as ‘personal communication’. Ha ha ha ha ha! No, really, that’s funny! And at the time I really did explain to children who asked that I was in the 22nd grade.

But the one that has stuck in my head is this one:

You have accepted guilt as an inherent feature of relaxation.

Still true! It’s just a little ridiculous to feel guilty for taking a week off before starting a major revision — I mean, it’s not like I’m on a deadline! Who cares whether this revision is finished by the end of August or the end of September?

I value my work ethic, thank you. But every now and then I have to persuade myself that it really is perfectly okay to settle down for a week and read a lot of books! It even counts as professional development! Everybody knows that writers need to read a lot! So there, work ethic!

So over the past weekend, I read EON and EONA by Alison Goodman.

Sorry to say that I didn’t love these books as much as lots of other people. Yes, the world building was great; yes, the exploration of gender issues was interesting. But.

For me, the main problem was that I really thought Eona was dumb as a box of rocks. Actually, it seemed to me that nearly all the important characters were unforgivably stupid. Gosh, why do you suppose the lime juice might be bitter? Hello?

It was just utterly, totally, completely obvious what Lord Ido was up to. It was also obvious what Eon needed to do to stop him. And yet every single character flailed around in the dark as though these things were complete mysteries.

This was incredibly annoying.

I started to get more into it when Lord Ido’s character became more complicated (right at the end of EON) and I must say, the last two hundred pages of EONA were fabulous.

Question: Have reviewers tended to give this duology higher praise than it really deserves because the gender stuff is edgy in a way that appeals to them?

Answer: I dunno. Maybe unbelievably, even suicidally oblivious characters don’t bother a majority of YA reviewers, for some reason.

Note: For a great Chinese setting, I’d suggest UNDER HEAVEN by Kay and BRIDGE OF BIRDS by Hughart.

UNDER HEAVEN unrolls slowly and beautifully and offers exquisite prose and wonderful characters.

BRIDGE OF BIRDS is fast paced and utterly charming and has some of the greatest characters ever — especially Master Li, who has, he admits, a slight flaw in his character.

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1 Comment Guilt and relaxation

  1. Cole

    I certainly understand what you are saying, I was frusrated as well on that. I kept saying “what are you doing” to myself… often. But the story still appealed to me some how. Oh well, people like different things. Sorry you didnt enjoy it as much as I did. I dont read a lot of YA , so I am not a good judge. I normally read Adult Fantasy and Sci-Fi and have some great suggestions for those, if you care to know let me know. But I know you already have a long list of “books waiting for me to read.” Anyway I will keep watching what else you are reading, I find books all the time by paying attention to authors.

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