Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

This book is so much better than the original series. The original series was fun and quick, and the writing....well, it felt like Dan Brown decided to write young adult/children novels and wasn't taking it very seriously.

BUT. The Lost Hero is so much better. The writing flows. There's more diversity in characters, while keeping to a central theme: no one's quite sure that they belong anywhere.

Last August, I read a piece from Mixed Race America called Why the phrase "half-blood" needs serious interrogation. While some of the article is flawed (its clear the author had other stuff going on and hadn't really examined the source material), this was worth noting:
And according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "half-blood" has at its core the idea that there is both a quantifiable ("half") notion of blood AND a qualifiable (as in hierarchical) idea embedded in the phrase "half-blood":
"half-blooded a., born of different races; spec. of superior blood or race by one parent only."[again, emphasis in bold is mine]
It just makes me cringe to think that these kids are going to these "half-blood" camps and will be referring to themselves as "half-bloods" without understanding the long and painful racial/racist history behind that term AND without understanding how problematic it is to split one's "blood" and the not-so-implicit connotations of blood (and really, wherever you see the word "blood" you should insert the word "race") as purity--of being able to determine which bloodline is better than the other. 
This is one of those things that seems like it would be really easy to be ignorant about. Remember when HP cameras were racist? Because no one thought to be like, "Uh, shouldn't we make sure that this works on all people?" Rick Riordan probably didn't have a Native American (or anyone who would have been knowledgeable about it) read the book prior to publication. And that sucks that the world still works that way.

So, in response to this, he could have been like, um, rounded up all the Native Americans that like his books/help his books, like some other people we know.

Knowing how these things usually go ("I didn't do anything wrong/I didn't know/That's just the way the story is/I'm sorry if I offended anyone"), I didn't expect much. So I was surprised to got a mention on page 33 of The Lost Hero:
"A safe place," Annabeth said. "The only safe place for kids like us. Camp Half-Blood."
"Half-Blood?" Piper was immediately on guard. She hated that word. She'd been called a half-blood too many times - half Cherokee, half white - and it was never a compliment. "Is that some kind of bad joke?" 
 Is it good to show that kids who are of mixed-blood/race are awesome, too? Or is this just co-opting an experience while just giving a brief nod to it?

What I can say is that most of the characters in the first series were white, and in the new series, Piper is Cherokee and Leo is Mexican American (the leader, though, Jason Grace, is white). To have adventures in this new series, you don't have to be white. And it proves that having diverse characters in a series is very compelling.

[I'm an Amazon Affiliate, so if you follow a link from here to Amazon and purchase something, I get a portion of the price at no extra cost to you. I checked out The Lost Hero from the local library]

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