If you've ever wanted to read every book in the library, maybe you should rethink that.

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Foreign films are your friends. No, really! There seem to be negative thoughts on foreign films in general, or any movie that involves subtitles for its entire duration. In my short life, this is what I’ve gathered. Why is this so? It could be the actual act of reading subtitles. It could be the separation of text/speech and action. It could also be a false idea that foreign films are uber (über?) serious or abstract.

After watching Amador, I begin to wonder if all movies from other countries had depressing people and plots. Where are the storylines that make you feel good? Is Hollywood so different from everyone else? No. There are plenty of intense films everywhere.

If we’re intelligent enough to read this post, we can surely read a few subtitles. If subtitles become tedious, watch the acting and the body language. If everything looks too serious, remember that sometimes sarcasm is lost in translation.

Alias Betty was pretty darn good. As it was somewhat of a thriller, of course it was a little serious, but one needn’t read too many subtitles to understand both the basic and complex human instincts. The night after seeing it, I had a dream about finding a place to live with little José, except, instead of Betty, I was Ledger’s Joker sans make-up and we had to hide in Gotham. (Your author need not go at length to explain how she needs to lay off the Batman. It’s becoming evident that a whole month of other media will not help her brain be cleansed.)

bannerbaseJust like last week, this one has passed too quickly. The difference, however, is my experience with language altogether. While working on my novel, I’m able to concentrate better. It’s as if shoving English materials into my closet (quite literally) for the time being has given my thoughts a reboot. That’s not to say there aren’t still temptations.

I have weaned myself off of Starcraft for the twentieth time this year. There are some nights when my brother finds no end to funny images to show me via Imgur. I’ll have to make him postpone these showings for a few weeks.

Language is everywhere, and it’s not always a good thing. Advertisements will always be annoying and, for some reason, we believe it makes them inescapable. Not so! I’ll listen to them in Spanish instead, suckers! Wait, but… but then… damn, they still got me.

I’ve already become bored with my library’s selection of “foreign” music. Most of it consists of compilation CDs that are supposed to represent an entire country. Many of these songs are in English. I’ll have to now rely on Classical or Spanish radio in the car and unofficial Youtube videos at home.

Speaking of videos, let me show you one more. This is an instrumental piece from Gangs of New York. I first saw this movie in high school, after I’d been a fan of Irish music for several years. Buying the sound track and listening obsessively introduced me to fusion-like music from other parts of the world, particularly Africa. (Afterwards, I got into folk and everything else went downhill.) Since then, I’ve learned that each bit of music is the gateway to other styles. This song popped up on my FLOM playlist today.

Next time I do this challenge, it will have to happen when I’m not living with my immediate family. Their habits fill the house, and so I’d like to try this again without the constant flow of muffled Dragnet, Perry Mason, and The Nanny. Not that I’m saying these shows are bad. They just seem like a dull nuisance right now. I would also like to watch an entire movie in one sitting without hearing my mother complain about what the characters are doing. “Why are they yelling?” Because their Italian. Or because they’re cops chasing a bad guy. Or because they’re Italian cops chasing a very, very bad guy.

I’ll be reading more novels. See you next week!

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“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things. Of pep-rallies–and lockers–and hair gel–of prom queens–and kings–“

Just kidding. It’s time to break down the end of the HYoYA.

halfyear-youngadult

I’ll admit this upfront: I cheated a little. Some research had to be done for language learning and novel writing. I’ll do better next time. Maybe.

For a good, two-page list of the books I read this challenge, see the Goodreads shelf here. Not all books are rated.

Let’s talk about the problems listed in the introductory post.

1. Romance

This one actually didn’t drive me crazy–until I looked through my handy little reading list. Of the books that did have romantic themes as primary or important secondary plots, all of them were written by women. What the hell, men? Give us some smooches and crushes. Alternatively: What the hell, women? High school love triangles aren’t that important to a coming-of-age story.

The above comments may sound a little confusing. What I want is more balance. Fewer stereotypes. May I have that? Or do all high school women walk around complaining about boyfriends? I sure didn’t. Two of the male authors I read dealt with protagonists who weren’t quite at the age to be interested in girls. The other protagonist was in jail, so can you blame him? Maybe my irritation here is more for women authors, or perhaps more male authors need to feature romance. What do you think?

2. Dystopia

I didn’t find a lot of these. Hunger Games (Collins) and Divergent (Roth) were on my reading list because of current media rave/rage (pick your poison) but otherwise there wasn’t an abundance of dystopia. The new Spider-man got a little surprising when, in the third volume (spoiler:) the country started going to shit, but Marvel is trying to figure themselves out right now. There are so many crossovers happening in Marvel right now, so it’s going to take me a while to catch up. Keep it up, people.

A currently over-looked novel that I recall being popular is City of Ember (duPrau). It’s a post-apocalyptic mystery of corruption(!) and I might actually continue the series because I’m dying to know more about its world. Although it was more of a children’s dystopia, it’s worth a look.

3. Representation

As I thought, a lot of characters and authors were predominately white. 10/13 of the novels read were written by women, while only 4/20 graphic novel series were written by women.

In comics, the writers were typically white males. Granted, I didn’t look up or list all the artists from any comic.

I was so, so glad to see a character with Indian heritage in Chasing Shadows (Avasthi), but then, in most of the novels I read afterward, the representation paled.

At least we have Miles Morales in the newest Spider-man (Bendis), who is all kinds of adorable and becomes a more tortured hero than I believe Peter Parker ever was. Plus, don’t forget Ganke. Don’t ever forget Ganke.

As a person who happens to be white, I’d like to say I’m also tired of characters looking the same. I’m trying to fix that in my own novels. I really am (and it’s not even that difficult to do). Let me also go on a mini-rant here and say I could not, for the life of me, tell the difference between four white male characters in the Divergent movie, and they were usually all in the same room together! It was like watching an ABC Family marathon.

I need to have another HYoYA just to seek out more representations of people. I know for a fact there are more culturally diverse novels. I have seen them myself at the library! During this challenge, though, I tended to focus first on plots that intrigued me in my random book-binging, and second on reading lists thrust upon me by others.

Well, my friends, it’s time for me to thrust a list upon you! The following novels are my top five from this challenge based on writing and story alone and they’re somewhat diverse in terms of authors and main characters. (Click on these Goodreads links. You know you want to.)

Chasing Shadows Double Monster
Batman: The Long Halloween Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol.1
What makes these five books great? All of these authors aren’t afraid of quieter moments. They’re able to find meaning in the smallest things. This is a quality I’m trying to sophisticate in my own writing, so these authors’ efforts are worth a lot to me.

In conclusion, this was a great half-year of guilty pleasures. I’m not the least bit sorry most of the books I read were comics. Superheroes are getting a larger, much deserved fanbase, and this must include teenagers based on all the merchandise you see in department stores. I’m finally, once again able to embrace some of the first fandoms I had as a child.

Will I do this challenge again? Absolutely. When? Maybe not during the same time next year. I have a month-long challenge coming up, which I’ll announce in a few weeks. After that, I should decide between this and four other potential reading challenges. Whenever I do another Half-Year of Young Adult, it will have a more tailored approach.

Read all my posts on the challenge here, in the Young Adult Challenge category on this blog.



As far as today goes, one thing is certain: I need to lay off the Batman for a while.

halfyear-youngadult

Of the 19 books I have read or am currently reading, half of those have been comic books. This challenge has actually turned into a comic book spree; if I sees them while shelving at the library, I gets them. I gets them hard. It was an innocent little pleasure until I read Batman: The Long Halloween and went on a Gotham library spree (as opposed to a crime spree; I’m not sure which would be more fun for the Joker scholar). When I realized just how Bat-and-friends-obsessed I’m been becoming, I returned ALL my Batman comics. Another time, my pretties.

And then I found this TV show trailer in my feed after returning from said library. I know the show will be so terribly full of terrible melodrama, but this was my actual face by the end of the trailer:

cookiemonstersurprise

Another post for another time, fellow fans.

Bring on the statistics! As of today, give or take some crap in my Goodreads tags, I have read 4 kids novels, 5 legit YA novels, and 9 comic books.

  • Of all the 9 novels I read, 6.7 had female protagonists. Some novels were split between male and female characters, and for some reason I’m counting an Avatar comic as a kid’s novel here but whatever.
  • 7 of the 9 comics I read had male protagonists.
  • The average publication year for all materials read so far is 2009.

Do you see a pattern here? I do. Females rule novels, males rule comics. I’m going to do some exploring to see if, at the end of the challenge, this will still be true.

“What about your goals to pay attention to romance, diversity, and dystopia?” Funny you should ask, invisible person typing at my keyboard. Here’s the run down so far:

  • 72% of protagonists were white. Now, I didn’t count two books featuring Katniss because Collins described her as having “olive” skin. Compared to my Elmer’s Glue arms and legs, that’s quite tan.
  • 28% of novels featured romance as a primary or secondary plot. That’s surprisingly very little compared to what I dreaded having to read!
  • And dystopia? Meh. I’d say 16% is listed as dystopia in their publishers’ genre descriptions. (Superheroes don’t count, although Uncanny X-Force might.) It seems I’m not paying attention to this as well as other aspects of YA, but this may change once I read more manga

Goals for the rest of the challenge are to read some manga and a bunch of wonderful, random crap. I shall only pursue comic books if I’m finishing the Kick-Ass series, Ultimate Spider-man series, or selecting a comic with youngish protagonists (just as Kick-Ass and Ultimate Spider-man do).

This has been a great adventure. I can’t wait to see what else it brings.

In the last post of the challenge, I’ll list my ratings of the books and more!



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