Like any other rabid YA reader, I want more diverse books. Basically, I demand them, loudly, like the mature being I am. If I see a diverse book, I snatch it up and hold it to the heavens, shouting HURRAH! DIVERSITY! HURRAH.
I’m sure we all do similar. Right? Right?! You go all Lion-King on diverse books too, don’t you? Right?
Diverse books are special. But, to be honest, they’re not that common (unfortunately).
I was quite excited to find Hate Is Such a Strong Word which features a character from Lebanon and aaaall the glorious
food culture that goes hand-in-hand with the Lebanese. Partials features a narrator who’s half-Indian. Eleanor And Park features a narrator who’s Korean. Cinder is Asian and the rest of the series features people from Paris and also the moon. (Very diverse right there.)
You’d think diversity in books isn’t rocket-science, right? It should be normal. Well, it’s not. A LOT of books (never all, peoples, never all) feature all-white characters who live America with an average-income and fall in love with a werewolf. Okay! I’m joking about the last part. But the rest is pretty true. It’s become The Ultimate Search to find YA books to break the mould and include cultural, sexual, and religious diversity.
And I agree with all that. I really do! I seriously want to read books with more Italian protagonists, because, oh gosh, they FOOD. Italians have so got the most fabulous food known to humankind.
But I’ve noticed a tendency to find diverse books and rave, promote, and rate them well despite what the writing quality is actually like.
Just because a book features a Muslim or someone from Zimbabwe or LGBTQ+ characters does NOT make it a 5-star worth book.
It makes it a book.
I don’t want to be Miss Doom And Gloom, but I want to be honest! Diversity has really exploded across the blogosphere lately, and it’s so awesome, but some reviews I read really confuse me. Why are books with horrible writing (as mentioned in a review) getting high star-ratings? Why are most of the diverse books on Goodreads list rated 4.1 on average?
Sure, maybe all the authors who tackle diversity and issue books are awesome writers.
But probably? They’re not.
Maybe (just hypothesising here, peoples) we’re too scared to say a book sucks because it’s DIVERSE or deals with a BIG ISSUE.
For instance, I found the writing in Afterworld quite dry. Average rating on Goodreads is 3.7 (which is quite high). It features multiracial characters. 13 Reasons Why is an “issue book” and talks about suicide. I found the morals seriously warped. (Average rating on Goodreads is 4.1.) Goddess features a deeper look into Greek-style religions. The writing was very bland and did a lot of telling. This happened and then this happened and we ended up here. Not good writing.
No matter what I read, I want to be honest to myself about what I think about it. Gosh, I feel guilty if I hate any book. But I don’t want to feel “beholden” to diverse or issue books to rate them high because they’re a minority.
I want to rate them high if they’re good.
Cait has dedicated June to rewriting. She’s pulling an old sci-fi book out of the rubble and (cringing) bringing it back to life! Yay! It should feature protagonists who hate each other and lots of delicious Mediterranean food. Currently she’s reading CITY OF BONES and absolutely loving it! Why did she wait so long? The humour is A+.