Hello, everyone, and welcome to my first ever discussion post!
I personally love reading and commenting on the discussions you guys come up with, so I thought I’d start doing one every so often as well. For my first one, though, I wanted to address something that feels really important, specifically with the fall season coming up (we’ll get to the whys of that logic in a moment).
My initial question to you is: do you ever find yourself looking for different criteria when reading different genres?
Let me explain, and give you an example. I have a friend who’s a blogger that addresses problematic content in her reviews, and is awesome about giving a heads-up regarding anything that could be harmful to her followers. Here’s the thing: she reads erotica, which is a genre that I find many bloggers who call out problematic content avoid altogether. When she reviews these books, she reminds her followers upfront that she looks at them a little differently than, say, sci-fi or fantasy. She doesn’t give problematic content a “free pass”, but she recognizes the context that it’s given in.
For me, that genre is horror (and occasionally, thrillers as well).
Now you see why I mentioned the importance of the timing of this post! I read a lot of thrillers and horror titles, so this discussion is going to become really relevant in some upcoming reviews.
I always try to give you guys fair warning when I see problematic/harmful content in a story, especially if that genre is one that we generally expect to be “safe” or progressive, like YA contemporary. While I may not always address tropes, if it’s something that looked like a serious potential trigger to me, I try to always mention it at some point in my review.
With horror/thriller reading, however, I recognize that the context is a little different.
While seeing an antagonist call our main character a homophobic slur in a YA contemporary may feel over the top, in horror, it’s a method commonly used to help us quickly fall into a deep hate relationship with the villain.
Casually learning that our antagonist is a rapist in a fantasy novel may sometimes feel like desensitization; however, in a thriller, it’s a quick gut blow to strike fear into the heart of the protagonist – and, by proxy, the reader.
(If you’re an oldschool AHS fan like me, you already know that Evan Peters playing Tate in the Murder House season is kind of a perfect example of a character that was a terrible person, but many of us loved him anyways.)
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying I’ll give these issues a free pass just based on the genre. I’m still tremendously uncomfortable with a lot of these methods, even when I know the author doesn’t subscribe to those beliefs – like Joe Hill, who is known for being progressive and an all-around goodhearted guy, but sometimes uses words that are less than pleasant to read in order to drive that villain’s character development home.
What I am saying, though, is that while I will always warn you guys about potential triggers and problematic content, that doesn’t mean I’m going to immediately 1-star a book and DNF it right then and there. I want to be transparent with my followers and let you know that…
Just because I 5-starred a book, does not mean that I agree with all of its content.
There are plenty of books that are brilliantly written and offer such incredible and lovable stories, but have a few phrases that I would love to erase right out of the text – but that doesn’t mean I won’t review them or even recommend them.
I 100% subscribe to the belief that we, as readers, are fully capable of enjoying a book despite its problems and controversies – we just need to be honest enough with ourselves and the ones reading our reviews to admit when those pieces of fiction need to be tread lightly upon. I’ve set a precedent with warning you guys, and I won’t stop doing that – I’m just asking you not to jump to any conclusions of hypocrisy when I inevitably 5-star a book and then have to add a paragraph full of trigger warnings to the review. ?