Why I Disagree With the Choice of Goodreads’ Best Book of the Year, Fiction—Yellowface by R F Kuang

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Choice of Goodreads’ Best Book of the Year, Fiction—Yellowface by R F Kuang

Hello people! How are you all, my lovelies? Well, it is that cosy time of the year again. That’s right, December is here and I can’t keep calm. For me, December is all about hot chocolate, cold, playful snuggles from the children of the family, and, of course, some smashing reads! Not to forget the Goodreads best books of the year have been announced and I can barely stay still with excitement at having read some, anticipation and thrill at having to read so many others! So yeah, that’s the true reader life, yay, you peeps!

Although a superb bestseller, R. F. Kuang’s Yellowface has also received some backlash from reader groups for portraying her chief idea through a rather untalented and somewhat morally terrible character, aka Athena, while showing the “defensive” approach adopted by people in response to Juniper’s character.

So, to begin with, I must confess that 2023 has been a great year as far as reading is concerned since I feel a lot of versatile and somewhat unique content has been showcased this year by the writers, highlighting not only the vices of society or the trysts of the current generation but also going a step further, narrating to us much more than what meets the eye. While books like Fourth Wing surely were one unstoppable pursuit, with its dragon-rider set up featuring a hybrid genre mix of romance and fantasy, The Housemaid’s Secret by Freida McFadden, the sequel to The Housemaid, delivered McFadden’s patented blend of switchback plot twists and psychological suspense. Check & Mate by Ali Hazelwood, on the other hand, is another one of his smart love stories for discerning adults. Weyward by Emilia Hart, on the other hand, was a smashing debut for sure, what with the stellar historical fiction it delivered.

And yet, something is bothering me, guys, for sure. Just a tad bit, or wait, maybe much more. I am somewhat not convinced by the Goodreads choice for the Best Book of the Year award for fiction-Yellowface by Rebecca F. Kuang. Umm, I know you guys will be like—but hey, you did love reading it, didn’t you? But no, it is not like I am downgrading it from what I told you all about it earlier. It is just that I feel that, for starters, this one was a tad bit too dry as a narrative to qualify for the best book.

Also, by showing us the dark side of the underbelly of the real publishing world, this does little to scatter any other trope feels, and I sincerely feel that to be the unanimous best, surely a narrative should have much more spice to it, right?

To elaborate some more on this supposition of mine, what also adds here is the fact that somehow, beyond a point in the second half, I sincerely feel that the narrative was kind of in a rut. The tussle Juniper faces, her demons concerning Athena, the constant cat-and-mouse chase—well,  it kind of got a bit too much after a point, giving nothing new and keeping us in the same rigmarole.

When one speaks about “best” in a particular category, I feel it has to meet all expectations substantially, tick the right boxes, and ensure that the category that the particular narrative represents is lived up to completely.

As I mentioned earlier, it was a good plot; nevertheless, Yellowface, for sure, showed a bit of lacklusterness as far as different sub-plots and elements were concerned.

Do you know another concern of mine? This was meant to surely be a dark satire and drama, which, sadly, I see it losing as a thread surreptitiously along the way. Also, at times, I felt that the narrative became somewhat like a personal sort of shoutout by R. F. Kuang herself, in a bid to put forth her personal opinion first rather than dig deeper and present the character’s viewpoint in depth.

And yet, what I could see scattered at various junctures were Rebecca’s representations of people from different backgrounds, such as Chinese, Taiwanese and other different ones. Sadly, what started as an effort to put forward different perspectives and POVs to represent the multiple paradigms and vantages Kuang meant to put forward slowly dissolves into only a handful of characters she wants us to watch from the sidelines, and that too in the setup and manner she wants us to see them in, resulting somewhat in a rather dissatisfactory sort of manner. When you present a plot of this stature, addressing the mindset of society, you need to ensure that the prose is free-flowing; there must be scope for the reader to drink in the character in the manner they deem fit and then proceed rather than pushing upon them a pre-conceived perception of those that you want them to be taking away at the end.

I also have to confess how the narrative ended somewhat “too predictably” for me. I was like, “That’s it”? I mean, Yellowface commenced with a smashing start, and I certainly had expected much more, which is another reason I am not too glad that it is considered the best one in the category. I mean, if, honestly, I were to look at some of the other contenders here, like Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano or even The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer, I see these being crafted in a refreshing voice, putting out a different ball game altogether.

Why Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Gamus rocked for me, despite the highly feminist character of Elizabeth!

So, I hope you guys liked my article, ‘Why I Disagree With the Choice of Goodreads’ Best Book of the Year, Fiction—Yellowface by R F Kuang’

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