Saturday, 4 January 2014

Telesa - #45

Image sourced from here
If you would like to read Twilight in a tropical setting this is it. Book is set in Samoa. Lelia is heading there as her Dad died and she is Samoan. But because for some god unknown reason to us Southern hemisphere peoples, even though she is 18 she is unable to execute her adult decisions here. She has money and some how can't use it, so is at mercy of a controlling aunty and uncle she's never met. Who make her go to school. Because even though she is not needed to legally (compulsory schooling seems to be only until 14), they tell her to and it's a good plot device. Oh and church. She can go to church and school and no where else. Talking to people is also out.

Enter Daniel. He's gorgeous. He makes you forget you're an independent human being. You forget you can make any decision in the world. Ever. Because you are a girl and girls cannot exist without hot men. In fact, introduce the hot American doctor scientist guy, and all elements of self determination pretty much go out the window. Us women can't do anything ever without thinking about the men. It comes with the boobs. Rational thought ≠ boobs. It's like teen fiction science or something.

Right so Lelia has special, magical, Samoan mythological powers that has been brought out due to her being back home. Her Mum (FYI Lelia thought she was dead) also has these powers and is tied to some weird sisterhood thing (ie. women with no men are bad). Anyways Lelia needs to work out who she is and what to do and such. With the boys. Because god knows you can't do these things without men.

1. Pretty self evident from above. Unless you are a girl. Then you may need a hot boy to explain it to you.

2. The author is from Samoa, educated in America and lives in New Zealand.  Besides the sexist co-dependent bullshit discussed above, the magic system is interesting and the problems of mixed island/nation race would speak to a lot of us in the Pacific. So I would say the majority of the time this would be written for us in the Pacific. Until you read it. What Pacific nation do you need to spend 2 pages describing netball to? You need to spend 5 pages describing rugby to us? Rugby is the only thing us Pacific peoples agree on! In fact it's pretty much a religion in half of our countries. However, there were a lot of Samoan culture and words I needed help with, and those explanations were welcome.

But it is obvious from the start this book is written for American audiences, not Samoan or New Zealander or even Aussie. I just feel in order to gain a few more readers the author has excluded her actual readership base. As a Pacific reader, granted a tenuous one, I felt like in the bits of this novel I engaged with and could relate to, I was made to feel like a moron, as if someone was explaining it to a slow, senile 2 year old. For an American reader for example, imagine you read an American novel who spent 2 pages explaining baseball and 5 pages explaining basketball to you. You know. You grew up with is. It's part of you even if you hate it. And it makes the book tedious and patronises the reader.

So when you read a book that tells you that your gender is incapable of making a decision without a man, and then spends pages of bullshit explaining to you your own culture, I get the shits. Once it got rid of all of that and talked about her inherited magic and the Samoan lore it was more engaging, and the actual climax of the book was interesting and enjoyable. I enjoyed the bits between say 70 and 95% of the book. So I liked 15%. Hated the other 85%.

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