Welcome to my fourth Friday Nope!
Why a Friday Nope ? I decided to create this new weekly meme because even though I have neither the strength nor the time to write a full review for every book I hate, I‘d hate to see people hurt by books I could have warned them against. As explained in my first post, Friday Nope will give me the opportunity to introduce one or two books I didn’t like at all, and briefly explain why.
If you would like to join me in this meme, feel free to do so! Just link back to this post, so I can easily see it and share it here!
But without waiting more, here’s my book for today!
Why did I hate ? This is a case of both awful premise and execution, and I was appalled when I read it several years ago. I didn’t write reviews at the time, so I thought that it would be a good occasion to call it out because I keep seeing it in recommendation lists and I?? Don’t??? Get it??
TW – Slavery, Ableism
So. For Darkness Shows the Stars goes like this : in this post-apocalyptic world, part of the population is enslaved because they’re disabled. Their ancestors, who used genetic manipulation, were punished by God (BARF) and that’s why their children were born with what the book call “Reduction” (yeah, they are named ‘Reduced’ and there’s so much nope in this that I don’t even know where to start). The Luddites, on the contrary, who rejected technology and lived in a cave, survived… and enslaved them. The Luddites see the Reduced’s enslavement as a punishment and at the same time, disturbingly justify it by the fact that “the Reduced are helpless”. Wow, hello, white supremacist narrative. This rhetoric is disgusting. The heroine, Elliot, is a Luddite, because of course she is.
First of all, I don’t think white authors should write about slavery. I’m sorry, but they show again and again that they can’t help but fuck it up and it’s not their lane. Not to mention that they KEEP focusing on white savior-type narratives (or in this case : Luddites), and I don’t think that I need to explain why it’s fucking terrible?
In this particular novel, we follow Elliot, a young woman, who is portrayed as a “Good Master” (UGH) because she’s “nice” to her slaves in opposition to her father who beats his slaves and so is obviously a “Bad Master”. What’s wrong with that premise, you ask? WELL. First it’s very offensive to link slavery with disability (especially because that has been one of the excuses for white supremacy since forever, and also because disabled people have been rejected and attacked since forever too), and I genuinely do not know how the hell someone thought that it would be a good idea (it’s really not).
Secondly, the mere concept of a “Good Master” is so fucked up and problematic that I couldn’t care less about Elliot. There’s no such thing as a Good Slaver. There’s just not. Slavery is violence in essence, and for all her nice speeches, Elliot keeps making people work without giving anything in exchange except for food and shelter. In the end, she liberates some of them EXCEPT for the disabled people, using the excuse that “they can’t care for themselves” (Y I K E S), and some of the others just decide to stay because they just love their master too much (NOPE NOPE NOPE) (excuse me while I’m throwing up??????). What the hell is up with that? So excuse me if I don’t care about her (boring) romance and her (fake) growth when she’s using slaves as a props to show that she cares and that she’s such a good girl. No, bitch, you don’t, and you aren’t.
Rating ? 1 star, do not recommend. You don’t use slavery as a way to make your heroine look good. You just don’t.