Monday, November 16, 2020

October Favorites: Neverland, Outpost Fristed, and Other Lost Worlds


Escapism seems to have been the theme for October! Will and I both spent lots of time visiting imaginary lands in the month that we missed both our much anticipated big mother-daughter road trip and all of our favorite Halloween activities.

Might as well spend October with the dinosaurs, then, or in Neverland!

Will's favorites of October include one book that I'm confident that she's read multiple times:

We LOVE our Arthur Conan Doyle in this family!

Here's some of the rest of what Will read in October:

Canterwood Crest, in particular, has long been some of Will's favorite escapist reading, partly because HORSES(!!!!!) but also because it's so delightfully absurd. I can't even tell you how many conversations we've had recently about why the main character calls herself poor when she's got that fancy horse of her own, and why the kids all have boyfriends and a bunch of boyfriend drama when they're all something like twelve years old, etc. To be fair, the boyfriend drama, in particular, IS odd, and after detailing to me the latest twelve-year-old boyfriend absurdity, Will expressed that she wished she could find a series that had all the same horse stuff and even the friendship drama but none of the gross boyfriend drama.

I was all, "Um, you realize that you're basically describing My Little Pony, right?"

If anyone has any suggestions for books with detailed horse plotlines and plenty of friendship drama but zero romance, please toss them my way!

As for me, I blew through a lot of fun nonsense in October. I was most amused by this hefty tome:

This book was the WOOOOOORST, and I LOVED it! At its best, the Twilight series was fun, hilarious nonsense. Bella embodies #NotLikeOtherGirls, and Edward is the clean-cut nice boy with a dark past, the most specialist boy in town, who treats gosh-darn little ole Bella like SHE'S the specialist girl! The first book is all, "My darling, I am wholesome and yet a monster," and "Oops, I'm dating a vampire!" hijinks.

It got even better in book two when Meyer made Jacob a main character and then got pissed because we all liked him better than we liked Edward because, you know... Jacob's FUN? The series got kind of gross from then on, because dude, Bella, please find a therapist you can talk to about how your vampire boyfriend dumped you (in the middle of the woods?!?) and now you're depressed and low-key suicidal. Alas, when Edward finally runs back into Bella's arms the entire series sort of shifts, and that previously-perfect Edward now reads more like an abuser with unlimited power and money. 

I wonder if negative fan feedback pissed of Meyer, because that last book? OMG. Like, you thought Edward acted like an abuser even though I clearly told you that it's only because women humans are simply inferior and have to be controlled? Well, now Bella's a vampire and she's finally his equal and she loves it! You liked Jacob more than Edward even though I clearly wrote Edward to be the perfect boyfriend? Well, I'm going to make Jacob fall in love with a literal baby! 

But now, you guys, Midnight Sun surpasses all of that. Midnight Sun reads like Meyer got herself overwhelmingly pissed at all the ways people have made fun of her Twilight series over the years and decided to get revenge on them all by BURNING. IT. DOWN. She took everything that anyone sincerely loved about this fun, hilarious serious and killed it dead.

Edward is a full-on stalker now, the creepiest of creepers. You thought he was wholesome? Suckers, he's a psychopath! You sincerely loved him back in the day? Joke's on you! And not only is he evil, but he's also obnoxious. I can't even tell you how many times he mentions the exact make and model of his fancy car, but I'm pretty sure I hurt myself rolling my eyes at the fourth reference. 

I am so curious about why Meyer wrote this book in this way. Was she sick of all the people making fun of her books (because god forbid people, primarily female-identifying, enjoy a fun, hilarious romance series without being mocked by the world for it) and decided to act like she's in on the joke by pretending like Edward was always god-awful and anyone who loved him was stupid? Did she decide that she no longer identifies with the overwrought romance that gave her fame and fortune and felt like her strongest move was to ruin everything sweet and innocent about it to show that she's a REAL writer now? 

Normally, when an author writes a book like this it's 1) a cash grab, 2) a love letter to their fans, or 3) a way to further build the world of the series and add new insight to our understanding of the characters. Midnight Sun pretends to be #3 and definitely achieves #1, but mostly?

It's just mean.

Oddly, I also read this book's polar opposite in October:

This book, you guys. THIS BOOK! I heard about it on TikTok, and immediately requested it from the library. Its basic premise, I suppose, is #1, because it was written to further the oeuvre of Peter Pan so that GOSH wouldn't lose its copyright. However, it is ALL love letter, and it is ALL world-building and magic and deeply insightful about what it means to grow up, what it means to not have to, what it means to not get to, and what it means to get stuck somewhere along in the process. It is exactly the kind of sequel that you deserve to read if you loved Peter Pan a long time ago.

Here's what else I read in October!

Yeah... I read a lot of graphic novels in October...

I have a new podcast obsession!

It's a dark fantasy narrative with great voice actors and a super scary premise and plot. I like it so much that I've started mainly listening to it when there's something else that I don't want to do. That's basically how the house got cleaned all throughout October!

Remember how back in the Before Times, I inexplicably loved to watch YouTube videos of people wandering around theme parks and eating all the food?

I found someone else to eat theme park food for my entertainment:

I don't cook, I don't eat at restaurants--I don't even like food, really, and yet I cannot stop watching this random woman delightedly eat weird  novelty theme park food.

I also really like to watch this random woman build elaborate dollhouses completely from scratch. Like, COMPLETELY from scratch:

My next quarantine hobby, perhaps?

P.S. Here's what Past Julie liked to read and listen to and watch!

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