Being Lost in the Wilderness With Your Bookish Crush

If you were to be stranded in the middle of nowhere with only one person, who would you want to have with you? Would you want someone with wilderness survival knowledge? Someone who knows how to hunt, or use maps, or survive without having a mental breakdown when they go to tweet about being in this situation and find there’s no phone reception?

Would you want someone who’s going to entertain you, given you’re probably going to die anyway and might as well go down with a smile on your face? Or maybe someone who you’ve always had a crush on to be forced into close proximity with you, giving you the perfect opportunity to finally make a move, or for them to profess their undying love for you. Might as well get one last snog in before you kick the bucket, right?

But what many people don’t consider is who they would least like to be stranded in the wilderness with. I’m sure the person that pops into most of your heads first is some bookish villain or evil mastermind. However, I’m not entirely convinced they’d be all that bad to spend time with. Look at it this way—they probably want to get back to destroying the rest of the world and will find a way back to civilisation ASAP. Worst case scenario, they’ll kill you on the spot. Would that really be as bad as forcing yourself to eat leaves for the thirteenth day in a row? I’d argue not.

For me, the worst person to be stranded with would be someone who I had history with. Someone who had unresolved tension between us. So I think Jenn Bennett got it completely right with Starry Eyes—frenemies stranded in the wilderness together? That definitely sounds like my version of The Bad Place. Hard pass. But that’s exactly what makes Starry Eyes an unputdownable read.

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The Shock Value of Stories

The line between shock value and portraying the often unsettling or shocking in a raw yet sensitive way is often hard to distinguish. In the past year or so especially, I’ve read more books and watched more shows that dance between addressing the tougher topics candidly and emotively, and portraying things graphically for shock value. But what I’ve come to start questioning is where that line actually lies, and whether portraying potentially triggering content, such as self-harm, sexual assault, and suicide, should always be portrayed in such graphic detail.

The most common example of this occurrence is in 13 Reasons Why, which received a lot of backlash after it aired about the way it showed the suicide of a character in the way that it did. Not only did mental health professionals write about how being exposed to such graphic portrayals of suicide and self-harm is harmful for people, there was also a drastic rise in numbers of Google searches relating to suicide and suicide hotlines according to this article in CNN. Given that there was a deliberate change by the filmmakers of this show to the method of suicide of the character to one that was potentially only used for shock value (even though suicide of any kind is triggering for some), it raises the question of whether portraying such tough issues much always be shown in such a confronting way or whether creators have a duty to protect their audience from possible triggers.Read More »

Secrets, Science, and Magic

The Secret Science of MagicThe unsolvable problem: If Sophia is a genius, why can’t she crack the puzzle of what to do with her life?

Fact: Sophia is smart. As in, certified-child-prodigy, breezing-through-uni-subjects-even-though-she’s-only-in-year-twelve smart. This terrifies her, because geniuses have a tendency to end up as recluses and weirdos – and with her current social ineptness, she’s halfway there already.

Truth: Joshua is good at magic tricks, ignoring most things about year twelve, and not thinking at all about life after high school.

Fact: Sophia can’t even talk to her best friend Elsie about her anxieties, because Elsie is firmly focused on her own future – and on plans that will mean leaving Sophia behind.

Truth: Joshua has had a secret crush on Sophia since forever, but he doesn’t have forever to act on it.

Fact: There are some things no amount of genius can prepare you for … and the messiness of the real world is one of them.

Truth: Timing is everything.

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When Michael Met Mina – book review

When Michael Met Mina

When Michael Met Mina by Randa Abdel-Fattah is a powerful novel for anyone who wants to fight for love, and against injustice.

When Michael meets Mina, they’re at a rally for refugees — standing on opposite sides.

Mina fled Afghanistan with her mother via a refugee camp, a leaky boat and a detention centre. Michael’s parents have founded a new political party called Aussie Values.

They want to stop the boats. Mina wants to stop the hate.

When Mina wins a scholarship to Michael’s private school, their lives crash together blindingly.Read More »