Reviews tagging Misogyny

The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune

3 reviews

lovely_lisa's review against another edition

Go to review page

hopeful inspiring reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated

4.0


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

stubbornjerk's review against another edition

Go to review page

emotional hopeful lighthearted reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.75

This book reads like a dated children's movie that feels as whimsical as Klaus and tries very hard to be progressive. It's been touted as a YA novel and as difficult as some of these topics might be for more children, marking it for YA while having older white men as protagonists seems like a stretch. At best, it's middle grade.

I appreciate its blunt cartoonish-ness though, it suspends your disbelief for a while. An orphanage for difficult, magical children visited by a dull, old caseworker who does his best to do right by them. His world gets a little less dull when meeting the unorthodox orphanage at Marsyas and its owner (or, master, however weird that sounds on paper). It writes itself like a rom-com, and it kind of is. A really cartoonish, quirky, and charming rom-com with a lot of little kids running around.

I found myself growing to like this book even after the initial chapters. It was slow-going at first, and the turn wasn't as subtle as it was fast. The narration itself wanting both to put us in Linus' head (especially in cases of extreme anxiety) while also keeping us out of it (in this case, when he starts warming up to the children).

A little nitpick of mine while reading this book was that I couldn't place its time period or place. It deems itself to be placed in the South but the speech patterns for some were suggestively British. There are scenes where it suggests that it is set in the present (record stores telling one of the children that they liked old music and the existence of computers), but Linus still has to send correspondences and reports through the post and if it were placed in America, the speech patterns would also suggest that this would technically be a period piece on top of its magical realism.
SpoilerIt all comes to a head during the later chapters, when Arthur and Linus talk about how Arthur is the first magical being to ever have run their own orphanage and that he was silenced and prohibited from revealing it. Holding the suggestion that of all the years these institutions have existed not a single activist group had arisen. Linus talks of magical beings in professional roles but says nothing of activist groups or names any.
 

Again, this is a cartoonish rom-com of a children's-not-YA book banking on the fiction of a fake marginalized group, but so maybe expecting it to be a little less like that would be disingenuous. The criticism exists though.

Here, on the other hand are some very problematic things I found about it:
  • That the concept of children in homes like these were allegorical to the abduction and institutionalization of Indigenous children is a tad concerning, seeing as there is not a single child of color. 
  • There's a lot of rampant fatphobia in this book, coming from the narrative character and the people he used to work with. 
  • There were a lot of Whoopi Epiphany Speeches that kind of feel awkward. 
  • We also have a Black woman who fulfills a caretaker role
    Spoilerand is a being of magic
    , and though the book doesn't treat her badly, one should be mindful of the fallings of tropes like these.

Overall, despite its flaws, it's a cheesy rom-com of a book that reads like a dated children's movie on the vein of Klaus and maybe a bit of The Parent Trap. It is what it is and despite all of that, is kind of stronger than the sum of its parts.

Expand filter menu Content Warnings

powellki's review

Go to review page

adventurous emotional hopeful inspiring lighthearted reflective relaxing medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0


Expand filter menu Content Warnings
More...