fantasy

Would you like a side of badass with that? A Richelle Mead review

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“I’d seen weirder things than a haunted shoe, but not many.

…There was a moment’s silence, then a high-pitched male voice snapped, “Go away, bitch.”

Great. A shoe with an attitude.”

Richelle Mead’s Storm Born is the first instalment in her riveting Dark Swan series, and is a work of pure genius and absurd humour. After all, who doesn’t love a touch of wackiness?

Storm Born follows shaman-for-hire Eugenie Markham who dedicates her life to protecting innocents from vicious creatures of a parallel universe—the Otherworld. Death threats and violence, she can handle—Eugenie wields a gun and shamanic magic with ease. In other words: a total badass. That is, until every Otherworldly creature is trying to get into her pants—the downside to an age-old prophecy. Eugenie is forced to confront her enemies, as well as the dark, unknown powers swirling within her.

Mystery, intrigue, betrayal, action and love. Storm Born has it all; complete with haunted shoes, a half-kitsune who gives a new meaning to the phrase “animal attraction”, and a fairy king with a taste for bondage.

Urban fantasy author Richelle Mead is well-renowned for her strong (and incidentally hilarious) female leads. Mead perfectly mixes her wacky brand of dark humour into smoulderingly sexy—not to mention empowering and inspiring—lead ladies and compelling storylines.

Mead’s most recent venture is the mind-blowing Age of X series, which is set in the futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists who unleashed a deadly virus. The Republic of United North America (RUNA) as a result banishes Gods from their society—but these Gods return with a vengeance, and it’s up to implant-enhanced super solider Mae Konskein and her genius (and alcoholic) partner Dr Justin March to maintain order with the utmost secrecy. On the other hand, Mead’s Georgina Kincaid series follows a reluctant succubus with a terrible love life but great shoes through a series of unexpected, dangerous and often heart-breaking events, though Georgina overcomes these through her sassy humour and intelligence.

Perhaps her most well-known venture, Mead’s best-selling young adult series Vampire Academy (which in 2014 was also adapted into a film) follows the snarky half-vampire guardian-in-training Rose Hathaway who is charged with the protecting the last Dragomir moroi (living vampire) princess Lissa Dragomir—who also happens to be her best friend—from a race of ancient, undead and bloodthirsty vampires—the strigoi. Meanwhile, in Vampire Academy’s spin-off series Bloodlines, witty, resourceful and pragmatic Sydney Sage is the protagonist. Sydney is an alchemist; a super-secret human agency which is tasked with concealing the existence of vampires. That is, until she falls in love with one.

Whether it be through brains, brawn or empathy, Mead’s characters prove ladies can kick butt—especially in a male-dominated, patriarchal world.

So, have you ever heard of a succubus who occasionally moonlights as a Christmas elf? An angel who drinks with demons and dresses like a homeless man? An overly-aggressive table? No? Read Richelle Mead’s masterpieces. You will be enlightened—thank me later.

I give Richelle Mead 5 stars—for all of her books; because anything less would be an insult. Go forth, enlightened readers!

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Life inside a book: wouldn’t it be nice?

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I can’t help but think life would be better if we lived inside the universe of a novel. Probably not Game of Thrones, though dragons are pretty awesome, though still: how amazing would it be to practise magic or shoot lightning bolts out of your fingertips?

That last part—sadly—is pretty irrelevant to my point and this article.

Some of you may have heard of the best-selling Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead—it recently also became a film (one I am particularly upset with. I mean, seriously. What is up with filmmakers ruining perfectly good books?). Calm down, I’m not writing about Vampire Academy. But I am going to write about Richelle Mead—sort of.

Richelle Mead is a brilliant author, and has written some of the best material I’ve ever read. She also happens to be the one who ignited my passion for writing and all things wacky. Sadly, her adult novels—which I’d argue are some of her best work—are largely unknown.

Her most recent venture is the mind-blowing Age of X series, which is set in a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists who unleashed a deadly virus. Obviously, the deadly virus part is bad. But how she describes society adapting to overcome this danger is truly remarkable.

Gameboard of the Gods, the first instalment in the series, is mostly set in the Republic of North America (AKA RUNA). In this society, religion has all but been extinguished, thus eliminating religious conflict. Gene pools have been rigorously mixed in order to fight off the disease before a cure was created, so there is no racism or underprivileged minority groups. Gender equality has finally been achieved, as well as equal pay. RUNA also has strict birth control regulation—citizens are embedded with a contraceptive implant until the age of 20, where they are able to conceive up to two children.  If citizens are able to prove they can financially support their family, they may be allowed up to four children—though strictly no more. This removes many issues we experience today, such as teen pregnancies, childhood poverty and a population that is too large for the Earth to possibly sustain. Education is also strongly embedded into RUNA’s culture, with a year of compulsory tertiary education for all students.

I understand some of this stuff is pretty controversial—particularly the control of procreation. I have had many discussions with friends about this; do people have the right to choose? What are the consequences of this?

I fully support a person’s right to choose—within reason. This policy is nothing like China’s disastrous one-child policy, in which 400 million births (mainly female) were prevented. There is no gender inequality in RUNA. And proving you can support your children isn’t paying for them—it’s not elitist, it’s logical. It encourages parents to first further themselves (and the country) before they procreate. In Australia, the average couple has 1.7 children—four is a lot.

This issue isn’t about control; it’s about sustainability. The Earth doesn’t have enough resources for our growing population, and it will be the poor who suffer.

Whether or not you agree with this strict kind of control, you have to admit they solve many issues with a few simple steps—steps that allow society to flourish. The needs of the many should outweigh the needs of the few—somewhere along the line, I think we’ve forgotten that.

I know RUNA isn’t perfect. There are a lot of issues that haven’t been addressed. But you do have to admire the superior—in theory—society. We could end world hunger, end gender inequality, end religious wars (mostly). It sounds great until the banished gods return—with a vengeance, I might add—in a power-scramble for followers. It’s called Gameboard of the Gods for a reason. But that’s beside the point.

My point is: RUNA sounds great. I would gladly live there, and I think we could learn a lot from fictitious worlds like this—admittedly, with some modifications. Someone should notify the politicians immediately.