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Name: Radigals
Home: New Brunswick, New Jersey, United States
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  Saturday, August 29, 2009  
Feminist Book Review: The Tiffany Aching Series
While I originally thought of doing the Twilight series as my first feminist review, I decided to pull back because I feel like everything that could be said about those books has already been said and I honestly couldn't add anything to the conversation. I was originally going to point out how I thought that the series was just as poisonous as Barbie towards young minds and how Edward Cullen's sweet nothings read from the novel of a murdering lunatic. So, I decided to present my antidote to that series with another one that's just as long and much more feminist friendly.

The Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett is an offshoot of Prachett's normal narrative home of the Discworld. The Discworld being a place that is very much like ours except it's flat and rides on the back of four elephants who are themselves on top of a turtle, which is flying through space, is a place which produces some of the best satire this side of Vonneghut. The targets of this satire are God, consumerism, Christmas, newspapers, taxes and pretty much anything under the sun. He even handles the feminist movement in the third book of the series, Equal Rites, boiling down any argument against women's rights to the only one that people ever seem to use: "we can't do this because it's never been done" and then rips it to shreds to show us how incredibly stupid this argument always is. The books are filled lovingly with humor and insight and you can pick up any one of them and spend an enjoyable few days reading them.

This brings us to the Tiffany Aching series which, I can best describe as being for anyone who wished that Hermione Granger would have shoved Harry Potter out of the way and taken the spotlight for herself. Tiffany shares much with Hermione Granger in many aspects, she's incredibly bright, strong and responsible. Sure, she has a group of incredibly strong tiny blue men to protect her called the Wee Free Men, but she hardly ever actually needs them and half the time solves whatever problem she's facing by sure willpower and cleverness alone. She has no powers, she's the young fantasy female protagonist version of Batman except she doesn't even need gadgets.

Terry Pratchett does fantasy very well in that he creates a world that you can wholly immerse yourself in while tearing away the more extraneous and useless parts of it. This is by setting himself up as an enemy of Disney's world of make believe. If someone appears in his books and is described as being beautiful, you can assume that they're an evildoer. Secondly, he creates a new concept of "witch" that destroys the idea of the wicked witch, in that he takes the more traditional and historically accurate version that witches were the ones that looked to the edges of life for people and made sure that they were doing the right thing to one another and themselves. Y'know the kinds of things that feminists do.

The most teling of his manner of writing is in a quote between a witch and Tiffany Aching:

Miss Tick sniffed. "You could say this advice is priceless," she said. "Are you listening?"
"Yes," said Tiffany.
"Good. Now...if you trust in yourself..."
"...and believe in your dreams..."
"...and follow your star..." Miss Tick went on.
"'ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy. Good-bye."

And that's about it, I honestly can't recommend these books any higher than this. I would love to tell you more about them but I fear I would ruin some of the surprises. Pretty much, I think these books are a good addition to a young person's bookshelf to get them to start thinking about things in a different manner. I would suggest getting these for them this year for school or the holidays or just to be an awesome older person in their life.

Next year: the Bell Jar and the Feminine Mystique
posted by HighFiveMachine @ 6:55 PM  

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