Reviews tagging 'Sexism'

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout

1 review

bookish_otaku's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No



I think the highest praise I can offer this book is that it was mostly entertaining. Despite this, there were some major issues that I could not get over and a general lack of, well, anything. This book very much reads like a novella with how short it is, and attempting to pack the entire introductory world building and character development (not even development, but just defining the character in general) into it seemed like it was asking for a lot. Despite this, the story seems to manage along well enough with a shallow story line and shallower characters with an unimaginably difficult scenario for the MC to face to try and pass as "deep," or, as the praise on the cover says, "touching."

Something that bothered me to no end throughout this book was the deeply internalized misogyny present in the female protagonist and her male best friend, Caleb. Perhaps this was because of the time this was written, but it definitely does not age well. The protagonist refers to the stereotypical mean girl as a "slut" and "ho-bag" on multiple occasions and reassures herself that she isn't a "ho-bag" while also feeling ashamed that she hasn't yet lost her virginity. Talk about impossible double standards. What's even worse is when they're inflicted upon young women by other young women, because it makes it seem like it isn't a problem with male patriarchal values, but just women in general. No. 
There is also a scene where one of the side male characters gets grabby with Alex, the protagonist, who has expressed that she does not want to be involved with him in that way on multiple accounts. Of course, most people would want some sort of comfort from their best friend, but instead she is blamed because "she kind of encouraged it," implying that her style of dress was just asking to get groped and who knows what else. I'm sorry, but if your male friend can't understand that no one deserves undesired sexual attention, then he really shouldn't be your friend anymore, let alone your best friend.
Later on, there is another scene where the MC is sparring with her male private tutor love interest resident hot guy and, because she's extremely angry at the time, she goes for his hair and reflects that it's a "total girl move." Thank you misogyny. I would love to say that in any real fight where you aren't just flexing for the crowd around you, but actually struggling for your life, "cheap shots" or "girl moves" are incredibly valid, affective, are honestly encouraged. 

Another toxic element of this story was how it seemed to define "strength" as the ability to hide your feelings. As if toxic masculinity wasn't already a plague for men, but now for women as well. Go figure. I wish Armentrout could have struggled to find a deeper, less problematic meaning of strength, then she really could have saved this book. Instead, this horrible ideal was sprinkled throughout the entire book, leaving me wondering what young readers came away having "learned" from this book. Some people may say that it's because she's part of this race that it's different, but the point of fantasy is to reflect the deepest human ideals even in not entirely human or realistic situations/worlds/people. If I wanted to bombard myself with unrealistic standards then I'd be a reality TV star.

Which brings up another problematic aspect! Diversity oh my goodness. Not even just racial diversity (although there was literally none of that), but body types as well! In this world every freaking character is somehow blessed with perfect bodies and being short is the absolute worst physical attribute people have to worry about. The mean girl character, Lea, is constantly described as perfect and stick thin and tan, usually all used in concert. Can we have some buff or curvier female characters kicking ass? Or some stick thin guys kicking ass? Can we get a description of Aidan, the male lead, that doesn't just talk about his arms or his grey eyes? Beauty is not so 2 dimensional and comes in so many shapes and sizes it's such a shame that is clearly not how things work in this cult. And yes, it's definitely got cult feels to it. People are just totally fine with the fact that Half-bloods are basically treated as disposable trash, are drugged into submission if they aren't physically capable enough of risking their lives for the Pures? Yikes. 

Now for more story related critiques. I could not for the life of me figure out what Alex's personality was supposed to be. It sounded basically like it was stereotypically rebellious teenage girl that isn't like others because she's not a "ho-bag" but also totally open to mingle and "I love my mom" and then Armentrout stopped there. I don't really think one can call that personality. And then Aidan. His personality was just being hot and having a tragic back story. I'm sorry but the tragic back story trope gets SO boring unless you spice it up with... oh gosh I don't know... a personality? Too bad for him he'll just remain a floating pair of beautiful arms and grey eyes in my mind. Nothing in between because that space is reserved for substance.

Another thing that bothered me about Alex's "characterization." She's supposed to be "strong" and badass because she killed two daimons with no success, and this is repeatedly brought up... but it's so hard to believe when all we see is her getting her ass whipped when learning the basics, her failing to think before she dashes into a fight and makes everything worse and gets her ass whipped again, and daimons basically throwing themselves on whatever weapons she happens to have... sounds like those kills were a bunch of luck to me. Extremely convenient luck. Instead of hearing her talk big and hearing others say "I heard you're a badass," gosh I'd really like to see it in action. Unless of course, her misogyny is too deeply internalized that she can't ACTUALLY be a badass because the gods forbid we have a badass female heroine with a personality. Of course, first she'd have to get that personality part down first.

This is such a scathing review, so why even give it 2 stars? Simply for the fact that it was mostly entertaining. Not entirely because the last 40 pages or so I couldn't bring myself to take my time reading an "emotional" scene with a character I had -10 attachment to. Is it heartless that I rolled my eyes? Maybe. Perhaps if Armentrout had invested more time in actually developing the mother daughter relationship by showing scenes of them together from the beginning, I might have been sad. But honestly, I can't get invested in a relationship that's less than 300 pages long and we only sometimes catch glimpses of through brief thoughts and recollection. I'm sorry but it's really not enough.

Also, I have heard that this book closely mirrors Vampire Academy series, I have not read it so I cannot say, but for those who have perhaps see what you think for yourselves. Are they similar?

Expand filter menu Content Warnings