Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to my wrap up for October. I know this is a little late, but I just hadn’t gotten around to writing down my thoughts on the books I read. It’s going to be fairly quick this month, I think.
First, I read all four volumes of Hawkeye, the recent run of it. It’s basically about Hawkeye a little later on in his life, as he’s getting older and realizing he’ll have to stop doing superhero work soon. He has an ex-Young Avenger working by his side, Kate Bishop. This has several adventures and I really enjoyed reading this. One thing I particularly enjoyed is that they played around with format several times, it wasn’t the same all the way through. I read these because I wanted to learn a bit more about Hawkeye, beyond what you see in the MCU and cameos I’ve seen of him in other stories. But the main reason why I picked these up is because there’s one issue that was done in mostly silence, with sign language throughout. This was shortly after Hawkeye had lost his hearing from one of his jobs. The backstory is that Hawkeye and his brother knew sign from when they were young, they’d used it to communicate with each other when they didn’t want to be caught by their abusive father. It just happened to be useful when Hawkeye went deaf, and I did enjoy seeing how they portrayed it. They made it clear that he doesn’t catch every word with lipreading, and showed his thought process figuring out what was actually said. Their choice of using a neutral body, like what you’d see in sign dictionaries, to show sign language was a very interesting one. It was very clear though! With that being said, some of the lipreading scenes were a little unrealistic, and sometimes the words that Hawkeye was processing weren’t the best choices. What I mean is that those words were clearly different on the lips, the authors should’ve chosen words that were much more similar in lip movements. Overall, I did enjoy this series, and did appreciate how they handled the “deaf issue.”
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. An epic story set in a rich world based on pre-Columbian cultures, Black Sun tells the story of four people that become intertwined over time. Xiala, a ship’s captain who has a penchant for drink and the ability to drive men mad and calm the seas with just her voice. Serapio, a mysterious blind man covered with scars that plays with shadows and whispers to crows. Naranpa, a young Sun Priest that has ambitious plans to revitalize the Watchers and their role in the Sky Made Clans. Okoa, a young scion burdened with a bloody legacy of oppression and the decision to join an uprising or quell it and maintain the peace. We travel between wide open seas, sprawling seaside towns, and narrow, tall cities built into and on cliffs. We experience cultures that believe in only science and scoff at magic, to those who revere it and honor ancient traditions. Political intrigue abounds, people wanting belonging to societies who shun them or begrudgingly accept them but never fully, relationships bloom and burn. When I saw Rebecca Roanhorse had a new book, I knew I had to read it. I really enjoyed The Sixth World series, and looked forward to reading more. I liked the worldbuilding in the previous series, but I was blown away by what Roanhorse did with this! High fantasy inspired by pre-Columbian indigenous peoples, Roanhorse creates a rich world with people who vary widely in their beliefs, customs, clothing, and living ways. One of the main characters, Xiala, is bisexual and frequently mentions being interested in or having had relations with multiple genders. There is so much casual queer rep in this, and it never feels superficial or tokenized. It feels like an authentic part of the world, and people simply accept it as a fact of life, which is amazing. There are multiple people who use neopronouns and more than two genders are recognized. If I recall correctly, Roanhorse also described a person’s appearance without using gender until the person was introduced or the gender was made known. Disability rep – I’m not blind myself, but I appreciated how Roanhorse portrayed Serapio, the blind character. It felt like she really made sure she wrote him respectfully, and I never felt like she pitied him or wrote him as “oh poor blind man.” Serapio was his own person and very capable. I also liked that Roanhorse never made it seem like he was gifted with extraordinary abilities to walk around and live like a sighted person. There were parts where he emphasizes that he simply had good tutors, and worked hard to get to where he is. I just absolutely loved it and was devastated when I finally realized it was only the first of a series, and it ended on a major cliffhanger. I cannot wait for the next book in the series!
The Haunting of Beatrix Greene. Beatrix Greene is a fake medium, and she knows it. However, she has made a name for herself as a reputable medium in Victorian England due to her ability to read people very well and understand what will bring them peace. One day, she’s approached by James Walker, a man who has a reputation for exposing fraud mediums. James offers Beatrix a job that would make her a lot of money, and she decides to take the risk. If she’s successful in fooling him, she’ll be set for true freedom. If she fails, she’ll lose her living. James wants Beatrix to do a séance at Ashbury Manor, which is known for being haunted and had some grisly deaths there. He’s searching for some answers from his past, but he doesn’t realize it could be dangerous. His reasons are secret to Beatrix until the séance, when an angry spirit is awoken with Beatrix’s gift. They along with a group of other supernaturally inclined people race to put an end to the rage before they all die. There was no discernible rep that jumped out at me, and I’m fairly sure the cast is all white. There were some twists that I didn’t anticipate, and some that I did, but I enjoyed this quick supernatural horror story. This is set in Victorian England, when the spiritualist movement was at its peak. I felt like the vibe of the era was captured well in this story, acknowledging the sexist views of the time. It does rely quite a bit on having some prior knowledge of the era for imagery. With that, it still had strong woman characters in Beatrix and a famous spirit photographer who was married, but still maintained her interests. I enjoyed the horror aspects of this, even if they were a little obvious and on-the-nose at times. I didn’t really like the romance, especially since I saw it coming from miles away. It felt like it happened far too quickly, there was barely any build-up and it didn’t feel that believable to me. It wasn’t really based on anything except appearances, which does happen, but that’s more lust than love. There was several convenient plot points, but generally, they didn’t detract from the story. There is some action, but it doesn’t really happen until later on in the story. I’d say this is a good read if you want something quick and don’t mind a somewhat generic romance.
The Deep by Rivers Solomon. This is about wajinru, the descendants of pregnant African slaves who were thrown from the ships. They’ve evolved to living in the water, and because of their incredibly traumatic past, it’s all held by one person who is the historian while everyone else forgets. Once a year, the historian will share the past with them. This is about the current historian, Yetu, who really struggles with her role. She doesn’t want to continue carrying the history because it’s incredibly painful for her, in part because she’s extra-sensitive to external stimulation, and carrying the history makes it all that more difficult. To be honest, I know I can’t do justice to this book, and it is INCREDIBLE for a short read. So I’ll be linking to Adri’s 5 Reasons to Read from when they first read it. I tried to find captioned videos from Black reviewers, but there aren’t any that have proper captions. There are some that do have auto-captions—though that’s not the same—and they’re linked in Adri’s video. Back to the book. It is queer lit, the wajinru are very fluid in both sexuality and gender, and they’re all canonically intersex. This is a very traumatic and painful story, but it is incredible, and I would definitely recommend it. Adri has a list of trigger warnings in their video, so be sure to check that if you need to make sure it’ll be something you want to read.
And that’s what I read in October! So far, November looks like a better reading month, it’ll definitely be a longer video. Have you read any of these, what did you think? Let me know!