Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer's Reviews > Written in Red

Written in Red by Anne Bishop
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Okay I'm going to come out and say it: this review was written to specifically combat those reviews that trash this series because the protagonist is what they call a Mary-Sue. It's not enough for them that she is a super-legit Mary-Sue with super-legit kindness abilities. They want (I'm guessing here based on their Meg hating) a bad ass woman who when hurt spits in the face of their attackers and somehow knows all about the world through the air they breathe so they can nun-chuck their way out of all danger and never gets emotionally damaged, no not one bit. We are hardened female warriors, rawr!

I'm exaggerating a touch here but really not that much. I find their favorite bad-ass females almost as ridiculous as they are saying about Meg so maybe we'll just have to say its a taste issue. What makes me so terribly sad is that #1 no one knows what legitimate kindness is and #2 that it has no power for those people. Kindness, true kindness that shows through one's actions (and isn't just a personality type derogatorily called Mary-Sue) is a rarity. Most people who've read this book probably aren't capable of this kind of kindness. Sure for people we like and love we do good things for, but for the most part people are selfish and self-centered at the very least. Since when is a character who IS NOT that a BAD thing?!

Meg is not your typical Mary-Sue. She isn't good just to be good and to have a reason to struggle against A or to pursue B. No she has had limited contact with the world and hence has not been tainted by their ways. Are all blood prophets such? It is hinted that they are but who cares? We haven't met those blood prophets - only "The Meg" and we see from her actions early on that despite fear or ignorance she is kind. She thinks about others and how they should be treated. She acts this way not to "be good" but because she's been treated like an animal and knows that is no way to be treated. That doesn't mean she is a door mat either. Yes, at first she jumps and scurries but the safer her environment feels the more she comes into her own growing as a woman and as an independent person. It is one of the most pleasurable, painful and moving journeys I've read a fictional character make.

One of the elements that makes Meg work, where other book protagonists are just Mary-Sues, is the world building. We are told up front about the way this world has developed differently than our own, then we are shown that difference. Through the Business Association Members we see different reactions to Meg and to her actions in the role of Liaison. We are given reason after reason why they allow her to stay, why they take on her battle and then why they come to love her. There was no insta-love used in the writing of this book and we see as the reasons change and morph for the Others (just as they do for us in real life) that love is earned through interactions between those people.

I really liked how the constancy of life as their postmaster general is what enables Meg to survive with the Others. I also liked how it was dually used as a method for her to disperse kindness. Few just wander around the world and randomly stop and do kind things. Most people who share any kind of kindness trait act kind as they go about life, in whatever role they might have with other people. So say a professor, they aren't really kind to other motorists, no, they are typically kind to students they teach and mentor. That only makes sense. So Meg is kind to the Others whose mail she delivers and whose orders she makes. She, with no urging from the Others, takes it on her self (because of her character) to look for other goods that will make life better for the others. That IS the reason humans were allowed to populate their continent. And Meg's contrast to ALL other humans is what first captures their attention.

A really good job was done making us feel each of the Other characters and what aspects of their personality makes them other than human. This was especially well done with Simon and the other basic shifters. The crows are awesome and are first won over because they are so easy to please. The vampires through their senses know she is special, but that is not the only reasons why they as a clan will defend Meg. It is only the starting point. But through these differences we see that each of the Other races are different from humans, they think differently, have different value systems and live by codes that humans struggle to relate to.

I loved the inclusion of Monty and the police. He's a bang up character that sheds a light on the struggle between human and other that we would otherwise find completely shallow. He really helps us to understand that Meg IS special and WHY she is so. Without him adding that extra dimension it might very well be hard to accept that kindness would have such effect - but because we can see through his eyes how rabidly humans treat the others, we understand that basic human decency is hard to come by for the others from the humans. So to have a human, Meg, that thinks of them, treats them well and is treated so poorly by her own kind (something they would NOT stand from their own) in their midst truly is life changing for them all.

To be frank I liked the compact story. We don't need to impact the entire world in the first book of a series. We can have localized battles won and worst consequences staved off. This leaves room for us to more fully explore the world in later stories. This is a world building book - the pace is slower and we are concentrated on meeting and learning the characters, developing relationships and laying the groundwork for the larger conflict and the roles the Others and humans will play in that war.

My favorite relationship was between Meg and Sam. Her kindness drew the pup but it was her actions with him that made him love her. I too want an exploration buddy, someone willing to tie themselves to me, to help me with the heavy weight of life's experiences.

My favorite Other was by far and wide, Winter. It was a relatively small aspect of the book but had such impact on me. The kindness quotient is real and active - we just have to find the people who aren't being seen and act.

I could keep listing different favorites in this book, such a list would come to include all the characters. Not a one was wasted and they all worked together to flesh out a world I can't wait to visit again!

BOTTOM LINE: More Meg and more Others World!
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Reading Progress

November 4, 2015 – Shelved
November 4, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
November 7, 2015 – Started Reading
November 7, 2015 – Shelved as: fiction-adult
November 7, 2015 – Shelved as: genre-urban-fantasy
November 7, 2015 – Shelved as: 2015
November 7, 2015 – Shelved as: g-t-another-world
November 7, 2015 – Shelved as: series-book-1
November 7, 2015 – Shelved as: g-a-real-combat
November 7, 2015 –
13.0% "So a solid start. I like the world of the others. I like Meg and her back history is fascinating and all she had to learn - wow! The cop is an interesting addition."
November 8, 2015 –
37.0% "I'm really loving this book! For one thing I love Meg! She's this lovely cross between unknowing and coming into her own. No ball buster here but with a lovely sense about her. Love how her thoughtfulness caused her to create friends with grandfather and Winter! And Sam is a darling! As well as Simon and how protective he became."
November 9, 2015 –
77.0% "I'm so glad Sam changed into Han form and improved so much!! I'm worried about Asia's plan and her spiking the Lakeguard Complex, and the poor ponies!!! Love the way Simon's relationship with Meg had developed as well as that she has another prophecy."
November 10, 2015 – Shelved as: g-a-paranormal-powers
November 10, 2015 – Shelved as: imo-great-setup
November 10, 2015 – Shelved as: imo-could-read-again
November 10, 2015 – Shelved as: g-r-vampires
November 10, 2015 – Shelved as: imo-neat-premise
November 10, 2015 – Shelved as: imo-monsters-unique
November 10, 2015 – Shelved as: imo-suspenseful
November 10, 2015 – Shelved as: imo-worthy-love-interest
November 10, 2015 – Shelved as: stars-5
November 10, 2015 – Finished Reading
November 24, 2015 – Shelved as: reviewed
December 22, 2015 – Shelved as: g-r-shapeshifters
May 24, 2017 – Shelved as: stars-remember-forever-award

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