Sunday, October 25, 2015

Becoming a critical thinker...

This morning, Belle and I were talking about my Goodreads review of Rick Riordan's new book, The Sword of Summer.  Riordan is currently her all time favorite writer and started her on her journey of fandoms. As such, I will be forever grateful for him and his writing, but that doesn't make him infallible. She acknowledges issues with his later books, and she has yet to read the new Norse book, only my review and what other Riordan fans have been posting.

To give you context, here's my review: 
"I really wanted to like this book, but it is even less developed than the Kane Chronicles, and not as well done as the Percy Jackson series. The story lacked strong character development and after spending a whole book in Magnus Chase's head, I honestly couldn't tell you much about him. There is not enough time spent world building in both the regular world and the other eight worlds that make up the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology. It reads like an early draft rather than a developed story that is marking the beginning of a new series.
Also Riordan attempted to add some diversity to the story by the addition of some Muslim characters, including one of the leads. While this is admirable in thought, it is unfortunately not well researched. A Muslim can not serve Odin as a Valkyrie as that directly conflicts with the central tenet of Islam, that there is no God but Allah... it made the character ring false and grated whenever her hijab came up in the story.
I am unlikely to read anymore in the series which is sad because I've always enjoyed Riordan's work and how accessible he makes cultural mythology. It had such potential. "
Having spent the last years in a Muslim country, we have truly been lucky to learn more about the Islamic faith. We have many Muslim friends and have had many discussions to learn more about their religion and also examined how it relates to ours. Riordan never made any of his characters religious before, so it was an easy sell to have them recognize their demi-god status and acceptance of historic mythology. In making one of his character's religious, he's removed that part that is true faith, allowed her some of the trappings of her faith without the substance behind it, and made it more like a dress up experience. As a person of faith, it was upsetting and, and as a human being, I find it disrespectful and as Belle put it this morning, ignorant. She recognizes that our time abroad has allowed us to be thoughtful in this instance and to be aware of what many may miss. We have been blessed with the opportunity to learn and see faith in practice in both our home church community and while living in a Muslim country. 

All faiths deserve true respect. Religion isn't about the trappings, but the beliefs and values.  Adding diversity is great, but be educated about how you do it. Look at what G. Woodrow Wilson has done with Ms. Marvel - that's a better example of a Muslim girl standing by her beliefs in a fictional world.

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