I was breezing through Amazon, looking for free books that aren’t terrible–which we all know to be nigh impossible–and I found a gem.
Not a gem in the traditional sense, as in a book that is well-written and interesting. But it put me in mind of Mary Sues. This was of particular interest, as this last Monday, I was part of an impromptu consortium formed to explain the term to someone who did not know it.
The book is called Threads That Bind, and for those who are familiar with what a Mary Sue is, the symptoms glare through just from reading the summary. Which I shall provide.
“At 16, Madison has accepted herself for who she is: smart and witty, but overweight with thick glasses and the social life of a Tibetan monk. Everything changes the summer before her junior year of high school when her eyesight inexplicably corrects itself, and she begins to rapidly lose weight. However, her new look comes with an unexpectedly expensive price. Madison’s first kiss with the boy she has had a crush on for years triggers powers she can’t control, almost killing him.
She discovers she is a Berserker, a powerful being chosen to guard the world from the Havocs, ancient creatures brought into our world by magic thousands of years ago. They cause destruction and death, but cannot be killed. Only the Berserkers’ life-blood can bind – and free – the Havocs. One Havoc is free and wants Madison’s blood to free another. Instead of enjoying her new look and popularity at school, Madison must now work with the Berserkers to master her powers and bind the Havoc before it kills her.
Oh, and if that weren’t bad enough, it turns out she is the first female Berserker since, well – ever.”
Not only does this read like a recipe for Mary Sue, it also raises a lot of questions that, with what information has been provided, makes me seriously doubt that the book answers them adequately.
- What is the link between her shift to meet conventional/contemporary Western standards of beauty and the powers of a “Berserker”?
- This isn’t another X-Men rip-off, is it? Because I know about how crap Jenny Pox is.
- (the first kiss nearly killing someone, I mean)
- How many berserkers are there, how are they chosen, why does bleeding on the enemy defeat them… I could go on forever about that. I really, really do not expect to be satisfied with what exposition berserkers get.
- The language is unclear, suggesting that either the Berserkers or the Havocs may be the ones that “cause destruction and death”. Which one of them is it?
- If there is only one Havoc free, then why imply that there is more than one Berserker?
- …why is being female worse than “bad enough”?
That last one actually kind of pissed me off. I’m not usually the type to get all puffed up about the portrayal of genders, but that’s just… stupid. “If that wasn’t bad enough, she’s also a GIRL”. Had there been some kind of explanation given, I wouldn’t care. Do female berserkers have some disadvantageous difference from male berserkers? Or is it just another boring girl who has to prove herself to the boys subplot?
Anywho, I shared this summary with my hubby, and he wondered, “…how much more interesting a story about a near-sighted, overweight teenager fighting the forces of Chaos…” could be.
So I thought about it, and came up with this:
“Sadie Yang wears a lot of hats. She’s the president of the student council, an active member in the anime club, and works part-time to help support her grandmother and little brothers. She doesn’t have time to eat healthy or exercise, and can’t see a place for make-up in the budget. Then one day, she is kidnapped by burly men in ill-fitting suits, who use an ancient artefact to imbue her with supernatural powers. They demand that she fight the forces of evil alongside other kidnap victims her age. Eventually, she learns that it’s all the maniacal machinations of a crazed director turned wizard who wants to make the ultimate comic book movie. Even if he has to work his ‘actors’ to death.”
I ended up “buying” the book (it’s free right now), although I might not read it. The style is not bad–which is much more than I can say about the Grimm Diaries prequels. The puns make my eyes bleed.
(Grimm Reaper and deadtime, in the same paragraph. owie. there are even italics.)