Today's sapphic book of the day is Dauntless by Elisa A. Bonnin!
Summary: "A teen girl must bring together two broken worlds in order to save her nation in this lush, Filipino-inspired young adult fantasy novel from debut author Elisa A. Bonnin.
'Be dauntless, for the hopes of the People rest in you.'
Seri's world is defined by very clear rules: The beasts prowl the forest paths and hunt the People. The valiant explore the unknown world, kill the beasts, and gain strength from the armor they make from them. As an assistant to Eshai Unbroken, a young valor commander with a near-mythical reputation, Seri has seen first-hand the struggle to keep the beasts at bay and ensure the safety of the spreading trees where the People make their homes. That was how it always had been, and how it always would be. Until the day Seri encounters Tsana.
Tsana is, impossibly, a stranger from the unknown world who can communicate with the beasts - a fact that makes Seri begin to doubt everything she's ever been taught. As Seri and Tsana grow closer, their worlds begin to collide, with deadly consequences. Somehow, with the world on the brink of war, Seri will have to find a way to make peace."
Tiktok sensation LightLark is the final boss of bad fantasy YA— a failure built on aesthetic boards and tropes, unable to pretend it has a heart
Tiktok sensation LightLark is the final boss of bad fantasy YA— a failure built on aesthetic boards and tropes, unable to pretend it has a heart
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A full summary with spoilers, analysis, quotes- and so much more on the subject of a book you should never read. This is a long piece. Like ‘Youtube Video Essay’ long.
Lightlark is joyless, a husk beyond parody, a checklist of every Island of Blood and Bone and Glass and Hearts that has come out in the last five years, built and sold on tropes and aesthetic boards. This is a book written by an author who is not a writer. It would fit in on the dregs of an amateur writing site with eerie perfection.
But Lightlark is more than that. You see, Lightlark is… a TikTok book.
There's now a video version. I heard Tumblr likes video essay long watches on obscure very specific content... may I introduce you to:
I'm not making a dime on this, I have no horses, only like 70 hours of work looking at this mess of a book and I just want to make sure everyone knows how bad it is. Let's be bitter at this multimillionaires flop together.
Vague thoughts about sex in literary works and its Age-Appropriateness for Young People.
in YA books sex usually has to be implied and avoid "details" because reading about sex is Not Appropriate for Teens. so in YA books the characters rarely give consent, communicate, make sure the other is into it, etc. Those are Details, apparently. They just kind of grab each other and make out and End Up having sex.
I keep thinking about this. To be "appropriate" for a young reader, a sex scene should be hard to distinguish from rape
1.- Bedtimes stories you tell to children, or lullabies. They can be based in location or species. They can tell us about the world, history, beliefs or something specific about a creature. It can be fun to think of their origin, how they’ve changed over the years and both the meaning that was lost and the meaning that was added.
2.- Fashion choices. I often let fashion be different for different creatures. I usually create a practical outfit that makes sense historically within the context of my world and then evolve it until I get to the present day of my story. Preferably splitting of into branches and allowing more options. It can tell us about a specific species, about their history and about how the climate has changed, or how they moved locations at some point and had to adapt their clothing to a new climate.
A very simple example of this from my own book would be the mage’s cloak! Link to a longer post about it. Basically, mages would wear a simple one piece fabric that was easy to then set an illusion over, no wasting time mixing trousers and tops. Over time some mages stopped using illusions, seeing the outfit as acceptable. It became a staple, you saw the cloak, that wasn’t a human but a mage. And then younger generations began personalising the material, instead of boring black, white or brown they started using floral patterns, adding in cool sleeves or hoods!
Initially, it was practicality, but it evolved.
3.- Think about what each species does for fun! I often read YA fantasy where the stakes are so high there is no leisure, no downtown, no fun, no hobbies. But this is a great opportunity! What’s popular in your world? Books, plays, board games, long walks, playing sport? Seeing characters just chill can be a great change of pace and allow for some insight into their lives and the world they live in.
4.- What is imported? And why? Sometimes imports are just practical, we don’t have wool here (unlikely, sheep are literally everywhere, but you get the point), wool is good for clothes, we import it. But other times it’s more complicated.
Perhaps a species moved across the country at some point, but they were accustomed to a certain type of tea, fruit for certain festivities, so on, so on, and habit dies hard, so, importation becomes a thing.
So those are my four world-building tips for today. I’ve said it before and will say it again, there is no master list, not check list, world-building is something you can figure out as you go in most genres (some epics may requiere more prep time). What’s important is to keep track of what you’ve said and stay consistent, but you don’t need to know everything before going in.
As usual, check out my book, stories I’ve written plus other social medias: here.
have you read a book that made your eyes water at the end so you could not read the book properly but you wanted that to happen because you did not want to complete that book and when the tear finally fell you felt relieved but you also wanted to forget you ever read the book just to reread it and feel that flutter of heart again
just a reminder that no book/movie series will ever be on the level that the hunger games was. the hunger games was THE blueprint. it paved the way for the entire genre of teen dystopian novels/series. every other YA dystopian series wishes it was what the hunger games was. i could go into heavy detail about this. i can recite the entire movie series and the books from memory.
do you have any advice for someone who writes urban fantasy and sword and sorc fantasy and for some reason, always gets compared to YA? I don't write YA. My characters tend to be in their late 20s or 30s-40s. And yet people keep comparing it to YA. Is there just too much YA in our collective lexicon now? Is there something I should avoid doing? I realize this is a bit vague but I also don't want you to have to read my plots or something.
People like to say "if you write diverse books they'll label your work YA"...but also there absolutely is a stylistic YA Voice
YA tends to ONLY use active voice, even when it's objectively weird in context, use very "visceral/bodily" descriptions for every sensation (e.g. "Anger pools in my gut," "Ice climbs up my spine,") have very short/choppy paragraphs, and utilize little to no narrative distance (the writing is very 'grounded' in the POV character—so a description of a character slipping on a banana peel would be describing the sensation of hitting the floor on your back, instead of being like a camera panning over someone slipping on a banana peel).
YA also tends to have very adjective-heavy description that makes things very vague. For instance, a robe being described as "plush" and "sumptuous" but not giving the color, material, style etc.
If you have to say "A staircase climbs the wall" instead of "There was a staircase on the far wall," you may have YA Style Disease. And yes, I will maintain that "There was [x]" is sometimes superior to somehow working an active verb in there. Sometimes things are literally not doing anything except "being."
Like, "There was an explosion," is a bad use of passive voice, because exploding is not very passive, but "There was a shed out back" is not wrong because it's just a fucking shed. It sounds weird to say "The shed slumbered/loomed/squatted in the back yard" every time. Sometimes an object literally is just existing and inventing a metaphor every time you describe the thing just to avoid passive voice gets into soggy purple prose territory.
Also, using present tense and/or first person is pretty particular of YA in today's environment. Especially either of these things combined with multiple POVs.
My main advice is to read books that 1) aren't YA and 2) aren't influenced by the "contemporary" YA. So like. Anything 20+ years old.
But maybe the people telling you this just don't know what they're talking about. Or maybe they've only read YA books of your category/genre themselves.
You are a fairly normal kid, as far as being ‘normal’ goes. You stayed out of fights and tried to ignore the strange things happening in your life as much as you could. Life was going pretty well as you lived with your eccentric but loving father, if you ignore how many times you had been either expelled or transferred from schools.
If only you knew that things were about to get weirder than ever.
One day, on your merry way to school with your best friend, a strange man shows up before you can make it to your destination. Apparently he wants to kill you, that is if you don't hand him the spear of heaven, Gungnir. Because guess what? The Norse gods, they are real. Unfortunately, that also means so are the monsters and everything big, bad and ugly.
Now you’re being whisked off to Camp Valhalla, a special camp for people with a parent from the Norse mythology. As if all of these revelations were not staggering enough, you are claimed by Hel, the goddess ruling over Helheim, as her only child. And that alone is enough to have the whole nine worlds’ eye on you.
After a prophecy that basically says you are the one who shall be tasked to find Gungnir and return it to Odin, you set off with four other half-bloods to follow the trail left behind by the almighty spear of the Aesir god. Because if you fail, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against the onslaught of the giants. Ragnarok will begin. And the nine worlds shall burn with the fire of Muspelheim.
Elvan Yalçın [15 // NB // Child of Útgarða-Loki]: Known for being an all-around class clown, rare is the day when you don't see any sort of mischief reflecting in those dark green gaze of theirs. They’ve stuck by your side for years, always looking out for you and making sure to help you get out of trouble. Suddenly being told that your best friend is the shapeshifting child of a literal giant from Norse mythology was not something you were looking forward to hear.
Determined to make sure you come back safe, Elvan volunteers to join your quest for the search of Gungnir. Here’s the catch though, their dad is stubborn and he will stop at nothing in order to get his hands on the weapon.
𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚: slightly curly raven black hair that reach a little past their ears; green eyes that are so dark that you’d think that they’re black from a distance; pale porcelain skin; scrawny asf in physique; a scar on their left arm that starts from their elbow and ends near their wrist, a gift from their dad when they legit fought against him to stay in camp valhalla instead of jotunheim; final height would be 5 ft 10 in. their ethnicity is turkish.
Eliott/Elain Ijzermans [16 // M/F // Child of Þórr]: With a streak of quick-tempered disposition that runs a mile, there is no doubt that they are their father’s child. Upon your arrival on camp, they show no reason to hide how less they trust you. They are strict on others and on themself, valuing a disciplinary lifestyle above all. Being the Head Counselor of their cabin has not helped in how protective they are of the people they care about, the question is if you will end up being one of those people.
One of the handful of campers who volunteered for your quest, E joins you to protect a friend of theirs along the journey. But the road there is not easy, and the prickly child of the thunder god may come to rely on, and even trust, you as your quest progresses.
𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚: wavy golden blonde hair, kept ear-length for eliott and a little past the shoulders for elain; blue eyes that resemble the colour of lightning; sun-kissed skin that makes them look like a surfer dude/girl; athletic physique from being one of the campers who came at a very young age; their arms and legs are littered with tiny scars; final height would be 6 ft 1 (eliott) and 5 ft 9 in (elain). they have belgian roots.
Liam/Leah Cabrera [15 // M/F // Child of Freyja]: They have the kind of aura that makes you self-conscious of things that never even bothered you in the first place. With a rebellious streak and apparent aversion to material things which makes their half-siblings sigh in exasperation, they are definitely not what you would expect a child of Freya to be like. But deep down, you see their desire to prove themself reflected in their fiery hazel gaze.
You knew the only reason why L even bothered to volunteered for the quest was for their own share of glory. However, maybe they will find reasons to start caring about people other than themself.
𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚: dark brown hair in curls, reaches their back in leah’s case and is kept above ear-length for liam; hazel eyes that change from brown to green and vice versa randomly; olive skin tone which nicely compliments their eyes; physically lean; there is a scar on their right eyebrow from when they almost became odin 2.0 on their way to camp; final height would be 6 ft (liam) and 5 ft 8 in (leah). they are of mexican and brazilian descent.
Andrew/Andrea Narong [16 // M/F // Child of Týr]: An overtly friendly camper with a million-watt smile, you would hardly see a frown marring their face on any occasion. Despite many incidents in their past proving it to be a bad habit, they are too quick to trust people, something that their friend E is sure would be a problem in the future. While having a natural leaning towards following rules, their unwavering loyalty to people they trust—which is a large amount—outweighs it all.
They show the first signs of their innate bravery by being the second person to volunteer for your quest. Only time will tell if their eventual blind loyalty to you will be their undoing, or if it’d be what it takes to propel them to glory.
𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚: straight jet black hair, kept short for andrew and shoulder-length for andrea; deep black eyes holding surprising level of warmth; their ivory skin with pinkish undertones make them look more like a child of freya than lee does; awkwardly lanky but toned physique; andi has claw marks on their back from when a wolf attacked them as a kid; final height would be 6 ft 3 in (andrew) and 5 ft 11 in (andrea). their mother is an immigrant from thailand.
𝕎𝔼𝕃ℂ𝕆𝕄𝔼 𝕋𝕆 ℂ𝔸𝕄ℙ 𝕍𝔸𝕃ℍ𝔸𝕃𝕃𝔸!
Play as the half-blood child of the Norse goddess, Hel.
Fully customize your character including: pronouns, gender, physical appearance, personality, sexuality, and many more.
Based on Norse mythology but with modern twists.
Make friends, make enemies, and most of all, at least try to stay alive till your eighteenth birthday.
Romance 1 out of 4 love interests (1 non-binary, 3 gender-selectable)
Inspired by Rick Riordan’s beloved series, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians”.
Grow up alongside your fellow campers and lose yourself in this YA fantasy series with coming-of-age themes.
Train hard and hone your skills as a fine warrior worthy of fighting against the giants when Ragnarok comes.
Spend your sophomore year fighting monsters instead of attending classes.
Great expectations, ominous prophecies, angry giants. What more could you ask for?
Is there any way to change the devastating results of Ragnarok? Will you be the driving force that defines the future of the nine worlds? Will you be the warrior who prevailed or failed?
Lastly, don’t forget to tag your underwear with your cabin’s name.
‘Spear of Heaven’ is the first book in the Song of Valhalla series. The genre is YA fantasy, adventure and coming-of-age. This book is rated 15+ for strong language, violence, bloodshed, disturbing imagery and suggestive content.