Tag: Writing

Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (almost) as Awesome as Me, by Carrie Ann DiRisio

“Of course you can write a book about yourself. That’s your favorite topic.”

“It is not!” he thundered, his eyes flashing. Broody was 5% rain cloud, on his father’s side.


I’m a fan of the Twitter account @BroodingYAHero, so when Sky Pony Press offered me an ARC of Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (almost) as Awesome as Me, I broke my own resolve of not accepting books for review and jumped at the chance.

For those of you who do not know @BroodingYAHero is a parody account run by Carrie Ann DiRisio that dismantles popular and overdone YA tropes one tweet at a time. Here’s an example:


The Brooding YA Hero book is an extension of this parody account. So does it translate well to this longer-than-a-tweet form? Let’s find out.

We are introduced to Broody McHottiePants. He’s the self-centered, narcissistic, brooding male protagonist of (almost) every YA novel, right from Romeo to Mr. Darcy to vampires to zombies to… well, you get the idea. In his words, he’s “the one with the most adjectives.” However, of late he has been out of work. For a while now, authors haven’t been requesting his services. He is so frustrated that he decides to write his own book – a self help guide on how to become a main character just like him. Once in a while, he falls asleep or leaves the room, and his evil ex-girlfriend Blondie DeMeani takes over the narrative. How do we know she’s the evil ex? Cos for one, she’s female, plus she’s blonde, she wears makeup and high heels – basically the opposite of the “main love interest” (who’s usually the demure, non-high-heels, non-ambitious type).

So far so good.

The book is funny and there were several laugh-out-loud moments. It cleverly (satirically) addresses the issues in most YA books, such as the marginalization of POC/WOC characters, how every story is essentially the same with a different setting – a love triangle against some conflict-inducing backdrop, how the same tropes get repeated etc. It also ends up becoming a How To of writing a novel – it describes elements of plot twists, POVs and so on, types of characters (from Broody’s POV of course, so they’re all less important than him). It also helps break certain stereotypes – Blondie reminds us that we think of her as evil only cos the stereotype exists, and throughout the book, her narrative makes more sense (as intended) than Broody’s.

However, there were a few inconsistencies that I noticed. For one, it’s often confusing to figure out whom Broody means by “you”. For the majority of the book, he’s addressing the reader (who, as the title suggests, is becoming Broody himself with the help of the book). There are other parts where by “you”, Broody means his love interest. That got a little confusing for me. I also noticed some repetition – for example, there is a section about the main character’s “rivals” – usually the third corner of a love triangle. This whole section is repeated in a different chapter. Another inconsistency I noticed is how at the beginning of the chapter, Broody mentions he’s traveled through space and time (refer to my statement about Romeo above). However, towards the end, he mentions it was his ancestor Broodington Hottietrousers who worked with Shakespeare. This also calls to question the existence of the Deleted Files Hall, where outdated characters go to die.

For the most part, this book is really funny, but in an attempt to go over the top, Broody begins to sound a little… repetitive and Broodsplainy (although yes, he admits that “as a man, I greatly love explaining things”). But still, consider this:

What if you and your friends uncover mystery revolving around a strange object – a goat. You unravel the mystery…
And it has nothing to do with the goat.
That goat was a red herring.
Not literally.
It’s still a goat.
Not a fish.

As readers (or future authors), we are intended to listen to Broody, but not take him too seriously (given his whole self-important, I’m-the-best air). Blondie of course makes some great points about writing a book. Keeping this in mind, I believe the below paragraph should’ve been part of Blondie’s narrative instead of Broody’s.

Young adult literature gets made fun of a lot by so-called grown-ups for always having love stories (even though it doesn’t) and for over-using “ridiculous love triangles” (even though there are plenty of stories without one) and for “always being about vampires and silly girls” (Seriously, it’s like these “adults” read one YA book ten years ago and based all their opinions on that.)

To these critics, I say, I’m sorry you’re so incredibly bitter and miserable that you can’t feel the rush of joy when your crush at imagine what butterflies in your stomach feel like. Also, please read some YA before insulting it.

I so completely agree with what is written here – I know YA gets a lot of flak that it doesn’t deserve. However, my point is, this is so true that it doesn’t go with the rest of Broody’s attitude towards everything. Now if Blondie had said this, well yeah, Blondie made sense throughout.

This was a great start to the new year for me, books-wise (where I hope to do better than last year). I do believe this book could have been edited better, to iron out those inconsistencies I was referring to. But overall, it was a good read, poking fun at all those YA tropes and stereotypes.

Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads | Amazon

Disclaimer: I received a digital ARC of this book from Sky Pony Press. My review is honest and unbiased.


Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life, by Yiyun Li

“A word I hate to use in English is I. It is a melodramatic word. In Chinese, a language less grammatically strict, one can construct a sentence with an implied subject pronoun and skip that embarrassing I, or else replace it with we. Living is not an original business.”

30211990I have had limited exposure to Chinese literature (or English literature about China, to be more accurate) but I’m sure I’ve read something in another book that conveys a similar sentiment about the letter “I”. I find truth in that statement. It startles me, as a realization, and yet, brings clarity at the same time.

Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life is a memoir in which Yiyun Li tries to decode life. She talks about her childhood in China, her mentally ill mother, and more. She wrote this memoir while battling suicidal depression and throughout, you feel, she is examining, sentence by rich sentence, about the point of life.

This is a complex narrative. I quite enjoyed the beginning, but in the later parts, although the prose was worth savouring, I found my mind wandering. This is essentially my problem and should not stop you from enjoying the book. Perhaps I felt she was going off tangent in certain places; I may be wrong about this though. There were several parts of it where I could not bring myself to agree with the author (much like Laura Esquivel’s memoir) but I still could see things from her point of view (unlike Laura Esquivel’s memoir, which I just gave up halfway)

Read it for the prose, read it for the quiet contemplation and wisdom, read it if, you too, are wondering what life is and where it’s going. She may not give you answers, but you will form your own.

Note: I received an ARC from Penguin UK/Netalley for review. My review is honest and unbiased.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Drunk-Writing Myth #MondayMusings

The Internet is la-la-wonderland of wrongly-attributed quotes. Obviously you can’t trust them all nor can you go around verifying everything you hear. And sometimes, mis-attribution can be very bad for your health, and even more detrimental to your writing. Case in point:

Write drunk. Edit sober.

-Not Hemingway

If you have been writing for a while, chances are you have seen this quote or a variation of it. But the truth is, Hemingway never said that. He just gets a lot of stuff attributed to him. However, the theory expressed in that quote seems to be advocated by a lot of writers (at least according to the internet). Some say it is metaphorical (a thought more comforting than -) while others say it is literal. I have read that Stephen King wrote Cujo while drunk or on drugs or something and does not have any memory of writing the novel. I don’t know how true this statement is. Nor have I read Cujo, but if Rachel’s reaction to the adaptation is anything to go by, I am gonna say drugs and horror seem to mix well:


So great for those writers that drunk-writing worked for them because it did not for me.

I could say I was merely performing an experiment based on these theories and writer stories. But that would not be the truth. The truth is: it was a fun Friday night.

This was about a year or so ago. I sat down to write after returning home – rather perfunctorily, I must add. I don’t remember what I wrote, much like King and Cujo. But the difference is, there was no option to go back and edit what I had written. Because you see, I was not sitting at my desk and politely “writing.” I was tweeting. Which was good and bad, as you will see below.

I had recently discovered Friday Phrases on Twitter (I don’t write those anymore (reasons beyond the scope of this post), but here are my archives) and I was making an effort to post my ideas every week no matter how senseless they were. This incident occurred on the second or third week.

The next day, my phone was still vibrating with retweets.

My head began to throb when I read my “gems” and that was certainly worse than any hangover. Drunk people are generally funny to be around, but when I read what I had written, the realization hit me that I could be incredibly boring. I had never, in all my wide travels, read anything so <insert most descriptive adjective ever> boring. It was the kind of writing that made watching grass grow look far more interesting. It’s a shock really, that commas and full stops were in all the right places (that, some people might say, is yet another form of boring)

The good (wonderful) news was – it was not something humongous being published, nor a page from something humongous that I may have wasted time on; it was just microfiction – forgotten in microseconds. The bad news was – unlike my other super-unpopular tweets, these were being RT’d a lot by the FP community. They are a fun, supportive group, but I really wanted to drown myself.

I hurriedly deleted all those tales. I needn’t have bothered because they had already been read by a lot of people (FP has grown since then, but the readership was substantial even back then). What you write sets the tone for people’s expectations of you, so you see my worry? But either way, I learned a valuable lesson for the far-off (possibly mythical) day in future when I begin my novel: I am never writing nor editing drunk.

Linking to #MondayMusings