Saturday, 2 April 2016

REVIEW + CONFESSION + LIST: IS (PRESENCE OF) DIVERSITY ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH THE BOOK?

Yesterday I finished a book that I had been excited about for a long time but it did not meet my expectations. Sad, I know. More importantly, it made me think about diverse books and I realized that I have a confession to make...


Right of First Refusal by Dahlia Adler

(Radleigh University #2)

Genre: New Adult Romance

Release date: March 15th 2016

    
     
On the lacrosse field, Cait Johannssen gets what she wants. Off the field is another story. Because what she wants is the school's hot new basketball student-coach, Lawrence Mason, who also happens to be the guy who broke her heart in sports camp two years earlier.

But it's Cait's new roommate who's got him.

Cait and Mase agree it's best to keep their past a secret, but she doesn't expect him to completely ignore their history...or how much it'll hurt when he does. So when a friend on the basketball team asks her to pose as his girlfriend for a night, Cait can't turn down the opportunity for distraction. (Okay, and a little spite.) But what starts as an evening of fun turns into a fake relationship with more lies than the usually drama-free Cait can handle, and it's only keeping her from the one truth that's nagged at her for years: Why did Mase cut her out of his life to begin with?

And is it really too late to get him back?

MY REVIEW:


What a disappointment. I admit, I read this book strictly because of second-chance romance. After quite good first book  Last Will and Testament (forbidden student/teacher romance) I was looking forward to reading this second standalone installment and I was very curious to see how author would deal with second-chance romance trope that I like so much. It went badly.

Instead of meaningful and thoughtful romance I got shalow and underdeveloped romance together with weak heroine (who thought that she was "broken" once she realized that the world doesn't revolve around her) fangirling about how perfect object of her obsession looks like, how sexy and attractive he is...I mean, I get it. Mase was hot. But I didn't need to be reminded all the time. There was only minimum mention of stuff that would make me like him as a person because constant mention of his hotness overshadowed everything else. Moreover, resolutions of all the problems were too quick and unsatisfactory considering what a big deal everything had seemed to be to Cait. Overall, all things combined made this story and romance look shallow in my eyes.

The only aspects of this novel that I truly liked were presence of diverse characters and positive and heartwarming portrayal of female friendship that made reading this novel bearable. And this leads me to my confession...


MY CONFESSION:


I know that many readers were happy that author featured diverse characters (gay/bisexual/pansexual friends, dark skinned hero) in this novel as multiple super positive reviews suggest. Nonetheless, featuring diverse characters on its own does not make a book for me. What is the point of having diverse character if you put him in the shallow story? What is the point of including racial diversity in the book if storyline isn't catchy or adequate? Lately, it seems to me that many readers put diversity above good ol' writing and storytelling skills and let themselves be appeased by presence of diverse character even if book itself is mediocre at its best. Or I just have shitty luck with diverse books lately...

Sometimes I even feel pressure from bookish society to automatically love/praise books if they heavily promote diversity in a good light. Sometimes I feel like publishers/reviewers push high-quality writing aside in favor of "better good" of promoting diversity, as if the most important thing was to have diverse factor in the book and all others aspects be damned. Maybe I'm exaggerating but that's how I have felt lately, that's the impression I'm getting from some parts of bookish community. However, I refuse to give into this pressure and I keep on judging the books based on storytelling and writing skills of the author.

I welcome diversity in books and I wish there were more high-quality novels featuring diverse characters out there. But I emphasize that such books have to have much more than just simple presence of diverse character to wow me. So, yeah. Even though I'm pro diverse books, I don't want to read artificial ones which "fit current demand". I will always put high-quality writing and storytelling on the first place when it comes to books I read.


MY LIST:


my favorite diverse books / vanilla scented tea candles

But not to conclude with negative thoughts, I have list of diverse books that won me over because they proved themselves in more aspects (writing, storyline, characters development, twists, feels) than simply featuring diverse character(s):

SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo -

(racial and sexual diversity, hero with disability)

I'LL MEET YOU THERE by Heather Demetrios -

(handicapped hero who lost his leg in a war)

FIRE AND THORNS SERIES by Rae Carson -

(strongly religious heroine)

PAINTED FACES by L.H. Cosway -

(heterosexual drag queen, gay community)

PUDDLE JUMPING by Amber L. Johnson -

(hero who has Aspergers)

THE BLUE AMARYLLIS by Sonia De Leon -

(cultural and racial diversity of isolated Amazon tribes)

WHAT IS YOUR STAND ON THIS TOPIC?
WOULD YOU RATHER READ MEDIOCRE BUT DIVERSE BOOK
OR PERFECTLY WRITTEN STORY WITH NO DIVERSITY?
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE DIVERSE BOOKS?

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Lucia @Reading Is My Breathing

Lucia is 28 years old passionate reader and reviewer who enjoys talking about all bookish things. Currently she lives in Prague, works in business industry and dreams of starting her own publishing company. Her weakness? She can never say no to chocolate, coffee or good novel.