I started reading The Dragonriders of Pern a couple of days ago. io9 ran a story about this series getting optioned for movies, and the article was excited, as were the comments. I was really intrigued by the debates in the comments about whether it's SF or fantasy, and the premise seemed really cool, and I've been dying for an epic new book. So, library!
The first book is kind of.......horrifying? Has anyone here read it? Within a few chapters I exited to check the cover and confirm that it really is a woman author, because I was so shocked at the sloppy, caricatured portrayal of the female protagonist's emotions - she's really horribly written. Like, at one point near the beginning, said female protagonist (a 21ish year old woman) is in utter despair, hatches a plan to kill a man and starts laughing maniacally. No explanation. No exploration of that shift. Just a fact or something. It was weird.
The rest of this is kind of a freak out about this book, so please skip to the end if you like!
Also TW for rapey storyline.
It gets much, much worse. Besides the woman going through rapid shifts like these that are horribly written (it could have been explained as a character thing, or her PoV chapters could have at least described feeling conflicting emotions), later on it gets totally rapey. It's a heavily sexist society without any actual explanation (besides Earth connections from a thousand years ago). The male protagonist, in his PoV chapters, constantly thinks about women in horrendously objectifying ways, without having that view problematized except the occasional realization that at least one woman can be somewhat useful sometimes. But most of them are "loose with their favours" or stupid or petty or vindictive. Basically all other women are one of those things. Except a mom like figure who gets one scene. In book 2, the male is thinking about a meeting, actually lists all political women with some horrible adjective (save our protagonist) and finishes it up with "this is an issue for men". Again, never complicated.
The kicker? Female protagonist, new transplant to this dragonrider culture, has a female dragon. Male protagonist, experienced dragonrider, has a male dragon. Their dragons mate.
Male protagonist didn't feel like letting the woman know that when their dragons mate, the humans will do so as well, overcome by lust. He later reflects that it was a SHAME that she was a virgin, and admits to himself that it would be rape (because this continues to happen and she purportedly hates him) if the dragons weren't involved, but he thinks she'll come around. From that, the author slips in lingo until you realize they fucking live together now. She didn't feel like describing that shift to consensual sex or romance - maybe worried male readers wouldn't be interested? - and it's absolutely horrifying. I felt sick.
I kept reading because I'm interested in the society, but between the bad writing and the horrible sexism and rapeyness I want to stop. Also, I do NOT recommend this series for feminists unless you are ready to feel this way too.
Anyone have a palette cleanser they'd recommend? :(