Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dear YA: Stalking is NOT Sexy

I've just finished reading Paranormalcy by Kiersten White. It's a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it if you're into paranormal or fantasy fiction.


In my book, Paranormalcy wins Cutest Relationship Award. There is very little staring soulfully into each others' eyes and "just knowing" that Evie and Lend are "just right." He doesn't freeze her in place her with his electric gaze that seems to stare into her soul. She doesn't dazzle him with her superpowers or her sweet, soulful shyness. Instead, there is lots of fun bonding time, friendship building, crush-having, and figuring-out-who-the-other-person-is before it blossoms naturally into romance.

Paranormalcy also wins Creepiest Ex Award for the character of Reth. Reth is an ancient faerie with an obsession for Evie. He doesn't care about physicality or sex; he's all about manipulation, mind control, and a really creepy intrusive thing he does that is basically mind rape. 

All of his language is typical rape culture: You belong to me, It's for your own good, You'll like it once you let me, "I'll enjoy it when you beg me to touch you again" -- and the phrase, "I'm just waiting for you to stop struggling and realize that you want it." Oh, and the fact that he can touch her throat to stop her from screaming.

The thing that really pissed me off, though, wasn't him. It was Raquel, Evie's female mentor and boss. Over the course of the book, Evie tries to get her to take Reth's aggressive behavior seriously. She asks to stop working with him, and is ignored. She asks Raquel to forbid him to come near her or touch her, and is ignored. She asks them to please at least be considerate of her history with him, and Raquel just rolls her eyes and tells her not to be silly and overdramatic.

By that point, I'm screaming, "What is WRONG with you, woman?!?" I hated Raquel. What kind of mother figure dismisses stalking? A supernatural creature is stalking her. Jesus. 

She should at least have considered Evie's status as an employee. As a professional woman, Raquel has no doubt experienced workplace harassment. Granted, it's hard to file suit against a faerie, but at the least she could have honored Evie's request not to work with her fucking stalker.

OK, all of this is fictional. If I'm getting worked up over it, it's because of something that made me madder than all of the above combined.

One of the reviews on the outside of the book began, "The two sexy paranormals who vie for Evie's affection each had their own victory. One won Evie's heart and the other won mine."

Lend, I suppose, is sexy. He seemed more cute to me, but sure, sexy, whatever. But Reth? How many times do I have to say this, YA? Stalking is not sexy. You could argue that Reth is sexy physically, but to my mind, no matter how hot someone is, if they start behaving like a fucking rapist then fear instantly overrides any perception of them as sexy. 

If you're reading Paranormalcy like there's a love triangle between Evie and two hot guys whom she is equally interested in, you're doing it wrong.

The review snippet seemed more like an attempt to attract readers by casting Paranormalcy as a Twilight-like love story. It's not. Also, it doesn't need to have anything in common with Twilight. It's a fantastic book already. 

All YA Paranormal is not Twilight. It does not have to be Twilight to be good or even to sell well. Frankly, I am tired of Twilight-like stories. And I am even more tired of people who think that being stalked is a turn-on.

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