Animated shows--or "cartoons"--have a bit of a bad rep. While the concept of adult cartoons and introduction of anime to American media have done a lot to counter that attitude, plenty of people out there still believe that animated shows are "just for kids," or, worse, don't have good storytelling.
I have compiled a list of seven of my personal favorite sci-fi and fantasy animated shows. These are a mix of kid-friendly and explicitly adult, with links to more in-depth reviews. So if you're thinking of venturing into the field of animated television--or are just looking for your next show to binge on Netflix--give one of these a try.
Avatar: the Last Airbender
3 seasons, finished
Avatar: the Last Airbender is the best animated show for children, if not best animated show period, and that is not hyperbole. There's a reason I reference this show repeatedly in almost all of my "on writing" articles and videos: great worldbuilding, engaging plot, stellar characterization, heart-renching redemption arc, diversity, cute animals, intense fight scenes, catchy music, everything is just damn-near perfect.
If you haven't heard me gush about this show, Avatar: the Last Airbender follows the story of Aang, a twelve-year-old Chosen One who has to bring peace to a world at war for the last one hundred years. But all Aang wants to do is be a kid. Kind of hard to do when he's being chased by the entire Fire Nation and all of his people were wiped out in a genocide.
One of its greatest strengths is the nuance. Not everyone on team bad guy is evil. Not everyone on team good guy is a good person. And there's more than one morally gray character: the Fire Nation prince Zuko, the freedom fighter Jet, even Katara--the most heroic member on Aang's team--has some dark moments.
And yes, this is a kids' show doing this. I love it!
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
5 seasons, finished
I'll admit, at the time of my posting this I am not done watching She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. But I've finished season four and will binge the rest of it by the end of the week.
It has a similar premise to Avatar: chosen one, war, save the world, etc. Also like ATLA, it has more nuance than the surface level good vs evil would have you believe. A lot more nuance.
There are two marked differences. The first is the chosen one in question: Adora starts the series a member of the Evil Hoard, having been raised by them since she was an infant. The minute she realizes that they're destroying the land and hurting innocent people, she joins the rebellion and becomes She-Ra, a powerful warrior with a variety of useful powers that she has no idea how to control.
The second difference, and what initially caught my eye, is the worldbuilding. While there's plenty of magical elements, it also has a lot of technology and science fiction elements, as well. Essentially, the world of Etheria blends magic with technology in a way I've never seen before.
It also has a lot more gay. Always a plus.
3 seasons, unfinished
The Dragon Prince has one of the same creators and the voice actor of Sokka from Avatar: the Last Airbender, so I was all over this.
Also, it seems I have a thing for anti-war stories, because this follows the same concept as the other two: rag-tag group of kids set out to end a conflict that's been plaguing their world for the last several generations. This one doesn't have a chosen one, though, so that's a difference.
I broke this one down in detail in my review, but we've basically got a human kingdom that killed the dragon king of Xadia a while back and destroyed his egg, which triggers a band of elven assassins to go after the human king and his two sons. But one of the elves discovers that the egg wasn't destroyed, but rather stolen, and she works with the two human princes to make things right between their peoples.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
64 episodes, finished
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is an anime based on the manga Fullmetal Alchemist. It follows a pair of teen brothers who seek the Philosopher's Stone so they can fix their big magical screw-up. They tried to bring their mother back from the dead and it did not go well: the eldest brother Ed lost an arm and a leg, and the younger brother Alphonse lost his whole body, so now his soul is attached to a suit of armor.
To do this, they join the army in their highly-militarized country, which is hiding a big secret going back centuries and proves deadly to anyone who gets too close.
The magic system here is alchemy, and heavily science-based. You can't make something without giving up something of that exact same value, which is why bringing people back from the dead never works. For instance, in an earlier episode, Alphonse uses the broken pieces of a radio to make a brand new one. This makes for some creative problem-solving on Ed and Al's part.
1 season, unfinished
During a nasty war, one side resorted to illegal magic experimentation and turned their soldiers into shapeshifting monsters. They can change at-will into terrifying god-like beings with unique powers that ultimately won the war. The problem is they slowly lose their sanity and humanity, stealing from and murdering innocent people instead of soldiers on a battlefield.
To make matters worse, when the war ended, their captain Hank--our main character--was betrayed and shot before he could find a way to fix it. Two months later, all of those unstable, insane supersoldiers are back home, endangering their families and communities. So Hank, left with no other choice, hunts them down one by one.
Like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, this show is inspired by a manga. But as I said in my review, I actually prefer the anime to the manga. Season two was supposed to release this year, but with COVID throwing everything out of whack, who knows when that'll happen?
Rick & Morty
Adult (rated R)
4 seasons, unfinished
If you haven't heard of Rick & Morty, can I come over to the rock you're hiding under? It sounds fantastic.
It's genuinely difficult to pin down what, exactly, I like about this show. Normally I prefer stories with hopeful messages and less chaos. Rick & Morty is full of dark humor, near-irredeemable characters, and a "screw it, I do what I want" attitude toward worldbuilding. And yet, I love it.
As Rick says, "don't think about it." Just enjoy watching a dysfunctional family have crazy space adventures.
Season five will hopefully start sometime next year, which is probably the earliest we can hope for with the pandemic.
Adult (rated R)
3 seasons, unfinished
When Dracula's wife is murdered by an overzealous bishop, he decides that humans suck and declares war on all of humanity, unleashing his undead army to butcher them all. A trio of heroes--a vampire hunter, a mage, and Dracula's own half-vampire son--fight to stop him.
As I said in my review, Castlevania is a very grimdark story. Almost everyone is either a villain or anti-hero, and only half of the story is actually dedicated to the heroic trio. The other half is spent on the infighting in Dracula's forces. But it's also got a handful of genuinely bright, funny moments.
Season four likely won't premier until the second half of 2021, but if the other seasons are any indication, it'll be well worth the wait.
What are your favorite sci-fi/fantasy animated series?
I would be lost without my bullet journal (bujo). It's one of the few modern-day trends that I am completely, unabashedly grateful for.
I'm writing this post under the assumption that everyone here knows what a bullet journal is, and is looking for inspiration for some new spreads. Specifically, spreads for writers and bloggers to stay organized.
Most of these spreads are what I have in my own bullet journal, which also includes the rest of my life: chores, calendars, birthday wish lists, etc. But whether you bujo like me or you have an entire journal dedicated to just writing or blogging, you'll definitely find something here to help.
Note that I'm using pictures I've pulled from the internet (properly captioned) because my own spreads are messy and private.
Bujo Spreads for Writers
Bujo Spreads for Bloggers
Bujo Spreads for Both Writers & Bloggers
Those are my spreads! What bujo spreads do you use as an author or blogger?
Looking for the next fantasy series to read can be intimidating. Especially since George R. R. Martin burned us with not finishing A Song of Ice and Fire. (He says he's been making a lot of progress on the next book thanks to holing up from COVID, but I'm not holding my breath.)
In the interest of helping fellow readers find their next big read, I've assembled this list of five best fantasy book series (in my opinion) that are either completely finished or the last book has a definitive publication date within the next year.
These are my personal favorites, all of them pulled from my Favorites page, and the links--highlighted in blue--lead to more in-depth, spoiler-free reviews.
Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson 'verse
This isn't so much one series as it is four series fused together.
We start with the Percy Jackson series and Riordan's debut into YA urban fantasy. The Greek gods are real and still cranking out kids. All the Greek monsters are real, too, and threatening the world. Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon, has to lead a bunch of other demigods to stop them.
Then we get into its sequel series, Heroes of Olympus, which tackles a whole new threat. This is also where we see true effort on Riordan's part to add diversity in his writing. Most Percy Jackson characters have ADHD and/or dyslexia, and there are several girl characters with various strengths. Heroes of Olympus includes several main characters of color and one major gay character.
Then we get the Magnus Chase trilogy and Trials of Apollo series, which both happen at the same time in-canon. There we get the full spectrum of LGBTQ+ characters, many of them canonically from the Norse and Greek pantheons, respectively.
Basically, we see Riordan grow as both a writer and ally as he incorporates more and more diversity in these funny, witty, action-packed stories.
All but the Trials of Apollo series is complete, and the final installment of that series--The Tower of Nero--releases in October.
The Mermaids of Eriana Kwai Trilogy by Tiana Warner
Indigenous girls using iron crossbows to hunt flesh-eating mermaids. What more do you want?
While this trilogy doesn't shirk from showing the bloody horrors of war, it is, fundamentally, a lesson of hope and love. Humans and mermaids have been at war for decades now, until a human Meela teams up with a mermaid Lysi to bring peace between their people, eventually ending up in a lesbian relationship. All while dealing with prejudices, tyrants, and PTSD.
Basically, you're getting an emotional shredder with this one. But it'll all be worth it.
Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas
Young adult/new adult
This eight-book monster of a series follows several characters as they battle evil kings, wicked fae, and mind-controlling demons.
I've complained about the staggering number of romantic subplots in this thing, but Maas still tells a great story. There are mind-boggling plot twists, intense action, and amazing characters, most of them women:
We have Celaena, a teenage assassin who always has a crazy scheme going on.
Manon, the wyvern-riding witch warrior.
The rebel princess Nehemia working to undermine the colonizing tyrant king within his own court.
And several other rulers, leaders, and magic-users. Even if you don't like all of them, you'll love at least some of them.
The Kingston Cycle Trilogy by C. L. Polk
This extremely relevant trilogy takes place in a Victorian-style world where witches either have storm powers, or are used as battery packs for those that do. Slavery in a golden cage.
In addition to a neat magic system and frankly terrifyingly realistic dystopia, each book features a same-sex romantic subplot, which are both adorable.
The main character of the first book, Witchmark, escaped such a fate by running away from home to become a doctor. But then he gets pulled back in by his sister, has to solve a murder, and uncovers a horrible country-wide conspiracy theory.
The second book Stormsong is the immediate aftermath as the characters do damage control and try to save their homeland from itself.
The third book Soulstar will be released in February.
Dread Nation Duology by Justina Ireland
In the American Civil War, zombies first rose during the Battle of Gettysburg. This created a drastically different but also familiar America. By 1880, when the first book starts, the rising dead is mostly (not really) under control, and the United States has something of a system, where black girls are trained to be Attendants to protect their rich (white) employers.
The two books take a very critical look at race in America. Dread Nation specifically picks apart the Reconstruction Era, while its sequel, Deathless Divide goes full-blown Western and criticizes how the "land of opportunity" was really only opportune to some.
The two main characters are also LGBTQ+ black girls: Jane is bisexual, and Katherine remains the only explicitly aroace character I've ever read.
Share your own favorite fantasy series in the comments so I can check them out!
A list of the worst female character tropes I’ve ever had the displeasure of finding in books, movies, and TV shows, from the love interest to the “strong female character.” If you’re a writer working on their next story, I am begging you: please don’t include these horrible cliches.
What are your least favorite female character tropes?
Related videos/blog posts:
The Lone Vagina (video)
Damsels in Distress (podcast)
Worst Tropes: Romantic Subplot (video)
Worst Tropes: the Female Mentor (blog post)
How to Write Female Characters (blog post)
We Need to Destroy the "Strong Female Character" (article)
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Stop me if you've heard this one before:
You're sitting down to write, staring at the white page, wishing more than anything to fill it up with story. But no matter how much you try to will your fingers to type, the words just aren't coming.
Or perhaps you're doing everything in your power to avoid going even that far. The dishes need to be cleaned, the living room's a mess, and you should probably do your laundry. Anything to avoid sitting down and pushing out a story that is lodged somewhere in your head and refuses to come out.
Welcome to writer's block, the most notorious villain facing all authors.
If you've clicked on this blog post, you've probably struggled with this nebulous fiend before. Or perhaps you're currently caught in its clutches, trying to find a way to move past it so you can actually finish writing your book. In which case, I can try to help you.
What is Writer's Block?
This might seem like a stupid question, but it's worth clarifying: what is writer's block?
The official definition is "the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing." Basically, no matter how much you may want to write, something in your brain is stopping you from actually doing it.
There are two basic types: traditional writer's block and project block.
Project block happens when you're stuck on one particular story or project. You've started writing it, possibly even have an outline, but now you're halfway through and...you're stuck. This one is responsible for all the unfinished projects cluttering up your desktop and filling your drawers.
Traditional writer's block is when you can't write at all. Maybe you thought you had project block and decided to take a break from one story to work on another before going back, but the words aren't coming there, either.
Sometimes, writer's/project block is a sign of burn-out. If you've been cranking out two thousand words every day for the last month, then for Christ's sake, take a day off. Go to the beach, spend some time with friends, do whatever you need to recharge. Writing is like any job: sometimes, you just need a break.
Of course, if you've already tried that and the block is still there, then that's a whole other issue. Which is probably why you're here.
Every author handles writer's block differently. I'm going to show you some ways that I, personally, push past it. I cannot guarantee that they'll work for you, but it's worth a shot.
How to Conquer Writer's Block: 7 Tips
The Dragon Prince
In the magical land of Xadia, magic comes from six primal sources: the sun, moon, stars, sky, earth and ocean. When human mages create a seventh kind of magic -- dark magic -- they start capturing and harvesting the unique magical creatures they need as ingredients, which sparks a war between Xadia and the Human Kingdoms. Three kids from opposite sides of the conflict -- two princes and an elven assassin sent to kill them -- discover a secret that could change everything and decide to join forces and go on an epic journey. That trek could be their only hope of ending the war and restoring peace to both worlds.
The reason the aforementioned assassin--an elf named Rayla--is sent to kill the princes and king is because the king killed the Dragon King of Xadia, Thunder, and destroyed his egg.
Except it turns out the egg wasn't destroyed, it was stolen. Kept in an underground dungeons by the humans.
The three kids find the egg and travel to Xadia to return it to its mother, in the hopes that this will end the war between humanity and Xadia. As such, the biggest themes in the show are forgiveness, the endless cycle of revenge, and how good intentions can lead to the worst villains. Seriously, every villain on this show really, really believes they're a good guy.
Season one is primarily just laying the groundwork, introducing all major characters, and building the relationship between our three heroes. Rayla is an elven assassin who's never actually killed anyone and is primarily motivated by the need for redemption, not just herself but her family. Her parents were part of the Dragon Guard and failed to protect the egg when the humans attacked.
The two human princes are Callum and Ezran, half-brothers from their mother. So even though Callum is older, Ezran is next in line for the throne because he's the one who's actually descended from the king. While this causes zero friction between the brothers, Callum does have a somewhat awkward relationship with his kingly stepfather. One of those "aw, they love each other so much but have no idea how to express it" kind of situations.
Ezran is a little kid who has to grow into his role as new king very quickly. Meanwhile, Callum wants to be a mage, picking up one spell at a time with what limited resources he has on the road.
Fun fact: the voice actor for Callum is Jack De Sena, who also played Sokka. And yes, they do make a boomerang joke.
The biggest villain opposing our trio is Lord Viren, who takes over the human kingdom after the king is murdered and immediately proceeds to escalate the war with Xadia. This at first seems reasonable. After all, his king and best friend has been murdered, and for the first few episodes it looks like the princes are also dead. Why wouldn't Lord Viren take control and strike back?
But after news gets around that the princes are alive--and therefore, next in line for the throne--Viren sends his adult children to steal the egg back and kill the princes, officially putting him in villain territory.
What makes Viren so terrifying is his manipulation. He has almost everyone convinced that he's a genuinely good person, using lies, gaslighting, and, if necessary, dark magic to get his work done.
Each season has nine episodes, although the latest season probably could have benefited from an extra episode, as there was more than one point where it felt a bit rushed. This is most clearly seen in the romantic subplot between Callum and Rayla. It came out of nowhere. The flirting started a few episodes into season three and by the last episode they were already in an established relationship and exchanging "I love you's."
Although I will admit: once those two get together, they are an adorable couple.
What immediately caught my eye in this show was the cast's diversity: Ezran is the most obvious example, being one of the main three characters and black.
Women and men both hold positions of power--queens, kings, soldiers, generals, mages, assassins, etc.--and there are several characters of color.
There are two same-sex couples, which is huge for a kids' show.
Finally, to top it off, there are a handful of minor characters with disabilities. My personal favorite is General Amaya, Ezran and Callum's aunt who is mute. She communicates through sign language, takes none of Viren's bullshit, and spends most of her time on-screen beating the crap out of elves and villains.
So far there are three seasons, and while it doesn't end on a massive cliffhanger, there are a handful of questions that need to be answered. This is good, because we have a confirmed season four. But because it's Netflix we have no idea when that's actually going to happen, and that was before coronavirus screwed everyone's schedule.
Take out all the science fiction and fantasy books that you've read.
Look up each author and then divide the books by "white author" and "non-white author."
Once you have your two piles, you'll probably realizing with a sinking feeling that you have a lot more books by white authors than people of color.
This isn't an attack on you. The publishing industry--like most other industries--are skewed to favor white people. Even as there's a growing interest in characters of color, it's often very difficult for authors of color to break into the industry compared to their white counterparts.
I'm guilty of this, too. One look at my Favorites list will tell anyone that I've been lingering in my own comfort zone for far too long.
In light of this--as well as the recent call to support black business owners and authors--I will be expanding my reading list. As soon as I finish the Diviners series and get my new books in the mail (I wouldn't be surprised if my recent order single-handedly makes Bezos a trillionaire), you will see a spike in this blog of reviews of books by authors of color.
I invite any and all white readers to join me in this challenge of purposefully diversifying our bookshelves. I invite any people of color reading this to join in, as well, though you're probably less likely to need it. More often than not, when I stumble on a "new" author of color, my non-white friends will have known about them for years. Same with LGBTQ+ authors and friends. I'm usually slow to the party, is what I'm trying to say.
Anyway, this post is for people hoping to find a good read by an author of color. Here is a list of six amazing science fiction and fantasy books by authors of color that I've already had the privilege of reading and reviewing. Links lead to more in-depth, spoiler-free reviews. These are all in order from young adult to grimdark adult, so you'll hopefully find something to catch your interest.
Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera
The post-apocalyptic Mexican-style Mega City is ruled by gangs. Each gang is made up of five girls under the control of the Mega Towers, which house the rich and social elite. Everyone wants into the Towers, including Nalah, the leader of the fiercest girl gang in the city. To do so, she has to go undercover outside of the city, venturing beyond the walls for the first time of her life. And surprise surprise, the outside world is not the desolate hellscape she was led to believe.
Rivera did not write a traditional dystopian novel where the spunky group of protagonists work to topple the evil overlord and put someone else in charge. That's not the central conflict, and it's not what we as readers are necessarily waiting to happen. The core of the story is entirely on Nalah: can she accept the reality of the world, and can she keep her gang safe?
Dread Nation and Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland
Historical fantasy/alternate history
What if zombies showed up during the Battle of Gettysburg?
That's the premise of Dread Nation and its sequel Deathless Divide, which creates both a foreign and familiar America. Twenty years after the dead rose during the Civil War, slavery is technically over. Instead, black girls are trained in special schools to kill zombies and protect their rich (white) employers.
Jane is a rebellious student who's only going to school to open her options and return home to her mother. But then she and her frenemy Katherine uncover a conspiracy theory that ends up sending them from Baltimore, Maryland, to the Wild West. Because even when there's a global zombie plague, it's really the humans who will screw up your day.
Kingston Cycle Trilogy by C. L. Polk
This is an ongoing trilogy. Two books--Witchmark and Stormsong--are already out, with the third and final book Soulstar due for release in February 2021.
Dr. Miles Singer ran away from his family of nobles to avoid a life of servitude, and so he could use his healing magic to help veterans, rather than be chained to his mage sister as her personal battery pack. But then a murder happens, his sister finds him, and there's yet another conspiracy theory that they have to solve. Miles is helped by Tristan, a fae-like being who picks locks, is magically incapable of lying, and stars as the same-sex romantic love interest.
This series uses its magic system and worldbuilding to highlight classism, as well as mental health and historical oppression. Polk takes no prisoners with her writing and doesn't even try to be subtle about her theme. It's beautiful.
The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang
Adult (rated R)
Epic fantasy grimdark
In a fantasy world heavily inspired by 19th Century China, gods are real and grant terrifying powers to their shamans. None is more powerful than the Phoenix, who can grant his people the power to burn whole cities in the ground.
Our main character Rin is from a poor farming village, and she manages to get into the top military academy in the nation on scholarship. There, she goes through the ringer, and after graduating is immediately thrust into a horrible war where she makes disastrous, bloody decisions. This is basically a tragedy where we watch Rin become a monster.
This does have a sequel, but I couldn't get into it. As much as I adore The Poppy War, I could not get into the next installment. But several others disagree with me, so maybe check it out.
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
Adult (rated R)
Taking place in a fantastical, post-apocalyptic version of Africa, Who Fears Death is the story of Onyesonwu (shortened to Onye) who is both the product of rape and has magical powers. The combination gives her some severe anger issues and puts her on the road to kill her biological father and end the system of oppression that's been keeping her and her mother's people in the dirt.
If you want a fantasy book that tackles every single issue--sexism, genital mutilation, racism, systemic oppression, and several more that I can't remember off the top of my head--while also delivering an extremely intense, gritty story of revenge and empowerment, this is the book for you.
If you want to read Dr. Okorafor's work but don't want to go through an emotional grimdark shredder, check out Lagoon. It's a lighter sci-fi read about magic aliens touching down in Nigeria.
Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James
Adult (rated R)
Epic fantasy grimdark
This book will fuck with your head and break your heart. Fair warning.
Set in a world based off of African history, culture, and mythology, the main character Tracker has a supernatural ability to sniff out anyone and anything. He's hired to find and rescue a boy, the lone survivor of a family massacre, and ends up having to fight through corrupt men and cannibalistic monsters to do it.
Everyone has weird, cool powers. Everyone is either a villain or anti-hero. Everyone is a big gay mess.
E V E R Y O N E.
Also, this book is apparently the first book of a trilogy, which I am genuinely terrified to continue.
Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland
The sequel to the New York Times bestselling epic Dread Nation is an unforgettable journey of revenge and salvation across a divided America.
After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother.
But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodemus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880s America.
What’s more, this safe haven is not what it appears—as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her.
But she won’t be in it alone.
Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, she knows friends are hard to come by—and that Jane needs her too, whether Jane wants to admit it or not.
Watching Jane’s back, however, is more than she bargained for, and when they both reach a breaking point, it’s up to Katherine to keep hope alive—even as she begins to fear that there is no happily-ever-after for girls like her.
I re-read Dread Nation before getting into the sequel, Deathless Divide, and it gave me whiplash. You would think that Justina Ireland could see into the future: replace "zombies" with "COVID-19," and "Survivalist" with "Trump-supporter," and you've got 2020 in a nutshell. It's a little eerie. But it's a necessary read for any fans of speculative fiction who want to better understand race relations, because Ireland does her research. While there's the obvious fantasy element of zombies that throws American history on a different track, it's still grounded in reality, and there are direct parallels between the heroes' plight and our modern-day racial discrimination.
Deathless Divide picks up right where Ireland left off in Dread Nation: Jane, Kate, and their friends let Summerland get devoured by zombies while they try for the fortified town of Nicodemus. The big problem here is that's where a lot of other Summerland survivors are heading, and you'll recall they're all white supremacists. As soon as Jane arrives she spends the next several chapters in a jail cell for murdering the last book's villains: Sheriff and Pastor Snyder.
Deathless Divide is all about consequences. Not only do Jane and Kate have to wrestle with them, but so does this book's villain: Gideon Carr. If that name sounds familiar, it's because he was one of Jane's allies in Dread Nation, and also helped come up with the ineffective "vaccine." He turns villainous because he doesn't have regard for the consequences of his actions. He's consumed by the goal of finding a cure or effective vaccine for the zombie plague and makes horrible, devastating mistakes that cost Jane dearly.
He has several parallels to Victor Frankenstein: he's sympathetic in that he doesn't mean to be evil, and in fact sees himself as the good guy (re: "it'll all be worth it"). At the same time, I don't feel bad for him in the least because he should've learned his lesson the first time a hundred people died. He's a rich scientist who doesn't care about the trail of bodies he leaves in his wake; the zombies aren't nearly as dangerous as he is.
While Gideon goes full on evil, Jane skirts that line herself. In Dread Nation she was already something of an anti-hero, with all of her lying and not particularly going out of her way to save other people, just herself and her frenemy Kate. But when Gideon triggers a vengeance quest within her in Deathless Divide, she goes a little nuts, turning reckless and vicious. While she never hurts an innocent, she does put a few in direct danger and develops taste for torture.
We also get Kate's point of view. This gets irritating because her chapters, like Jane's, are all first person POV. Dread Nation was told purely through Jane's eyes, which worked beautifully. In Deathless Divide, each chapter alternates: chapter one is Jane, chapter two is Katherine, chapter three is back to Jane, etc, much like the last two books of Tiana Warner's Eriana Kwai Trilogy. And just like that series, it can get confusing as to whose head we're in. As much as I appreciate getting into Katherine's mysterious backstory, there were probably better ways to go about it.
Having said that, Katherine's chapters are just as good as Jane's. We learned already that Katherine is asexual and aromantic, a fact that remains true throughout this sequel--none of that ace character getting "fixed" nonsense. Now we learn that she also has anxiety and fierce loyalty. While Jane's romantic subplot(s) are very light, Ireland goes ham on the Power of Friendship, and I love it.
This is an intense story. A major character from the previous book dies in the first fifty pages. People lose limbs and break hearts. One of the main characters is in very real danger of turning full villain. But it is absolutely worth it.
Deathless Divide is an excellent sequel, tying up all the loose ends from the previous book and building upon the established characters' arcs. We also got to see a lot more worldbuilding in zombie-infested 1880 America: the Wild West, California, and New Orleans. If you like zombies, Westerns, and black characters, you're going to love this.
Instagram Giveaway: Homestead Hunts
Luckily, BLC rescheduled for August, so we're back on track! I'll be signing and selling copies of Homestead Hunts. But since not everyone's going to get the chance to go to Tennessee, I thought I'd do a giveaway!
One lucky winner will get a signed copy of my illustrated novella Homestead Hunts in the mail. This is the eighth book in the Earth's Final Chapter series, but you don't have to read any of the other books to know what's going on.
Homestead Hunts centers on the dwindling mega-city, Homestead. The residents follow a totem system that puts them in one of two categories: predator or prey. Predators have the legal right to hunt and kill prey for the purposes of food. But after a particularly nasty hunt, calls for revolution go up, and it becomes impossible to know who's the hunter and who's the hunted.
This is an Instagram giveaway. Here's how to enter:
1) Click here or the button below to go to the right post.
2) Like the post.
3) Tag a friend in the comments who loves sci-fi books.
4) Follow me on Instagram.
This giveaway will continue through June 29th, 2020. A winner will be announced on June 30th and contacted through Instagram direct messaging, where I will privately ask for their mailing address to send the signed book.
The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!