Discussion Post: Talking About Diversity, Inclusivity, and Representation in YA Fantasy + 13 Diverse Recommendations!

Through a research survey conducted by Marshall University, it was found that most YA literature was written for an audience of white, middle-class teens. Which is also the reason most people turn to Fantasy for escapism rather than relatability. No, teens don’t relate to fighting vampires, but they do relate to seeing themselves, and their cultures between those pages. They also relate to the family dynamics, and the fact that both themselves and the main characters are queer, or Asian, or disabled.

A lot of authors include diversity in their novels just for the sake of it. That’s honestly not how it should work. The diversity should be normal. It’s NOT normal when 95% of all the characters in your book are white, skinny, and straight, because it honestly just gets unrealistic at that point.

What I find the most disappointing, though, is that despite the potential SFF, as a genre has, and the countless chances authors have to incorporate cultural minorities, it doesn’t happen. Instead, we get racist, ableist, homophobic content in places we look for representation. For example, take a look at Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. It’s disturbing how blatantly problematic and racist it is, and even more disturbing that people choose to ignore this, and it still has a 4.03 average rating on Goodreads. The fact that Rainbow Rowell, as a white author, chose to bring down Korean culture, and be so ignorant while writing her novel is just disgusting. To make it even worse, she acts like being non-white is a reason to be ashamed of yourself.

No, Eleanor & Park isn’t a Fantasy, but that brings me to my next point. If you’re going to write about white characters, who are surrounded by white characters, and that one stereotypical character of color, please don’t set it in a country still suffering from the effects of colonialism. When it’s a fantasy, please don’t base your world on ethnic minorities and their cultures while still having a full cast of white characters.

Lets take a look at Stormdancer by J*y Kr*stoff. Stormdancer is a YA fantasy based on Japanese culture, and is also described as a ‘Japanese Steampunk’ novel by the author. This would have been perfectly fine, and the novel had SO MUCH potential, especially being described as a Japanese Steampunk, to include well-researched elements from Japanese culture, and make it an accurate historical fantasy that diaspora readers resonated with.

Instead,,,,,,,, we get a DEEPLY racist novel filled with racist themes and ideas, as well as absolutely NO background research at all. Take a look at the authors note on Goodreads describing the novel. If his note is so racist, and ignorant, then imagine the mess his book is. It’s disturbing, how he uses Japanese and Chinese culture interchangeably – because it shows how ignorant he’s being, and how he doesn’t care that all of Asia is not the same. Like I hate to break it to you, but Asia’s the largest continent in the world, and there’s a slight chance that not everyone is the same?? Because I’m not Japanese, and hence not #OwnVoices for the book, I wanted to link to Lynn’s YouTube review, Emily’s Goodreads review, and Cyna’s Goodreads review, as they all explain the issues with Stormdancer in more depth, and with a ton of details and examples.

Furthermore, Stormdancer isn’t just ignorant of ethnic minorities, but there are multiple instances of cultural appropriation in the text as well. Like both Tiffany and Ellen mentioned, there’s a long & brutal history of sexual & physical violence against Asian women, but of course – this middle-aged, white man, wants to hypersexualize his 16-year-old Asian main character, and act like it’s not a problem. There is a huge amount of fetishization towards ALL the Asian women in the novel, and they’re all supposedly hot. Even if the character is a warrior, the fact that they’re hot is stressed upon more than their experiences in battles, etc. What it even worse, is that the shooter from the AAPI hate crimes in Atlanta killed Asian women because he claimed to have a sex fetish for them. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a long & brutal history of sexual & physical violence against Asian women, which is what makes this even more of an issue.

Recently, J*y Kr*stoff also got 4 Special Edition ARCs of one of his novels, when so many BIPOC authors are being denied ARCs because of the “shipping costs”. I mean, if you can afford to make hardcovers, and paperbacks, and on top of that 4 special editions of the same book to send to the same person, then why can’t you afford to send ANY physical ARCs to BIPOC authors? Right, because your money is going towards supporting the same middle-aged, cis, white, men. To learn more, you can read the caption on Sherna’s post, or take a look at Tiffany’s thread on Twitter!

Obviously, Stormdancer isn’t the only problematic YA fantasy, and Eleanor & Park isn’t the only problematic YA contemporary. Like Vicky mentioned, there are also books like Cinder, which may not mean to be racist, but because of not enough research still have some racist aspects. There’s also the books set in The Grishaverse (yes, I’m a SoC and CK stan), BUT it still has bad Shu (East Asian) rep and magic yellowface, which is something to keep in mind before supporting Leigh Bardugo.

I would also like to link to Ellen’s tweet – where she eloquently describes everything I couldn’t – and as an #OwnVoices, calmly explains ALL the issues with books such as Stormdancer and Eleanor & Park. Blake also talks about white authors profiting off Asian stories, but yet staying silent about Asian racism and all the AAPI hate crimes in his YouTube video. Last but not least, Chloe talks about Techno-Orientalism in Science Fiction in her article.

** NOTE: I realize that in this post I talk about racism towards mostly Asians, and not other ethnic minorities, but that’s only because I identify as an Asian, and am #OwnVoices for Asian books, so I would be able to have accurate information about it. I did think about including other communities in more detail, but I didn’t want to offend anyone, so I have only gone over them in brief. **

13 Recommendations for #OwnVoices, and Diverse SFF ~

For this list, I’m trying to avoid some of the more popular fantasy series (The Poppy War Trilogy and These Violent Delights, since most people have read those, and I wanted to give some other recs for books that haven’t received as much attention!! No hate to those two though, because I ADORE These Violent Delights with all my heart, and I’ve heard The Poppy War is groundbreaking so…)

Wings of Ebony ~ An emotional read that made me cry, swoon and made me FEEL ft. Black Girl Magic and hard-hitting reflections on today’s society – what’s there to miss? Read my review here.

Legendborn ~ A modern-day King Arthur re-telling that played with my heartstrings, and was also filled with an intriguing magic system, as well as thrilling mystery! Definitely one of my favourite reads of 2021. Read my quick thoughts and screams on Goodreads here.

The Gilded Wolves ~ I JUST started reading this book, and though I haven’t gotten very far into the story, the writing is SO gorgeous and illustrative. I’m also loving all the characters and theme of the story!!

The Gilded Ones ~ Full of feminism, an intriguing magic system, and supportive friendships, The Gilded Ones is a book that left me wanting more!! Cherelle’s review also perfectly described how I felt while reading it, and you can check out my review over here!

The Sword of Kaigen ~ This book was recommended to me by Maja!! I also wanted to include recs from others, so that we would have a variety in story types. The Sword of Kaigen is an East-Asian inspired military fantasy ft. lots of action-packed sword fighting, so I already know it’s something I would adore.

Yesterday is History ~ This book was recommended by May (@princekiem)!! It’s an emotional, moving (and most importantly – diverse!!) read, centered around the theme of time travel!! The synopsis sounds amazing, and I think I would love it.

The House in the Cerulean Sea ~ This book was recommended by Ursa!! I’ve heard it’s a heartwarming, diverse read that also features the found family trope, and honestly that’s reason enough for me to pick up this book!!

This book is really problematic, and along with being based off of the Sixties Scoop, there is also a large amount of fatphobia. Please read Cossette’s and Bella’s reviews for more context! I will not be recommending this anymore.

The Fever King ~ This book was recommended by Koh!! I literally know nothing about it (except it’s a diverse SFF), and it’s heartbreaking, but I love books that break my heart, and give me all the FEELS so I want to read it 😌✌🏼

Scythe ~ This book was recommended to me by Ash (@smokedshelves on IG)!! Described as a well-thought out story, with a twisty plot, I know it’s something I would love. I also read Sofi’s review a while ago, and I loved it, so if you want, you could check it out here!

Blazewrath Games ~ This book was recommended to me by Bella!! It’s pitched as a diverse fantasy (written by an #OwnVoices author) about a competition ft. lots of dragons, and it sounds absolutely perfect, so now I just need to get myself a copy.

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin ~ This book was recommended to me by Dezzy!! It’s a fantasy inspired by West African Folklore, and the synopsis sounds so?? good?? I will also read anything Dezzy recommends because her taste is ~immaculate~ (and pretty much the same as mine lol).

Children of Blood and Bone ~ This book was recommended to me by Jenn!! It was a DNF for me, but I was feeling a bit slumpy then, so I think I’ll do a re-read!! I was invested in the story, but I was unmotivated to continue + my loan on libby got over, but I’m thinking of trying again in a while!!

Black Sun ~ This book was recommended to me by Esor!! I’ve heard it has natural diversity, lots of queer characters, immersive worldbuilding, and complex relationships!! Which is ALL I need in a book so the vibes I’m getting are ✨ immaculate ✨ also can we talk about how much I love the colors on the cover??

What are some of YOUR favourite diverse fantasies? Do you have any recommendations for me? What are your thoughts on inclusion in fantasy?


81 thoughts on “Discussion Post: Talking About Diversity, Inclusivity, and Representation in YA Fantasy + 13 Diverse Recommendations!”

  1. this is a much-needed post, and because of what’s happening these days, i just no longer want to support these problematic popular white authors in general. j*y kr*stoff especially, who has the audacity to use asian cultures as an aesthetic for his books, yet stays silent about asian racism and hate crimes, as you mentioned!! i’m honestly very disappointed at how many people still support these authors despite how problematic they are :/ thank you for this post, ahaana!! sending love 💕💕

    Liked by 3 people

    1. i honestly haven’t read any of j*y kr*stoff’s books, and i don’t even want to. i find it disgusting that the extent of research he did was “eating pocky and watching anime”, and then moved on to writing his novel based on asian aesthetics :/ it’s also so sad that he refuses to speak about all the asian hate crimes, and people don’t even recognise how problematic authors like him are!! thank you sm katie, ily 🥺❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I had no idea about the racism in Jay Kristoff’s books, thank you so much for bringing that to light. On the other hand, I’d heard about the racism in Eleanor and Park and I think it’s so awful that so many teens read this book back in the day and that these harmful messages were perpetuated because of the author.
    I’ve been seeing Legendborn everywhere lately and I’m really interested in it!
    This was such a great discussion post, Ahaana!!

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    1. honestly, neither did i till i did some research!! eleanor & park is just so horribly racist, and it’s so sad that at some point it was recommended as a “representative” rom-com, but on the other hand, there are now so many #ownvoices alternatives, which is great!! legendborn is such an amazing urban fantasy (which is also a king arthur retelling), and i loved reading it!! thank you so much susana 🥺💓

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  3. I love this discussion so much Ahaana!! 💜 We absolutely, 100% need more #ownvoices BIPOC YA fantasy!! We read fantasy to escape reality, which is already chock full of racism, NOT to have harmful stereotypes thrown into our faces in just another setting.

    I’ve seen the situation with J*y Kr*stoff going around on Twitter (how is a mystery, since I’m not even on Twitter 😂) and omg it’s so messed up??? First, the thing with the ARCs is just plain ridiculous — isn’t the purpose of ARCs for reviewers to read the book before it’s published? Why on earth would anybody need *Special Edition* ARCs, and four of them at that? And Stormdancer, good grief. The answer he gave for the interview question about the research he did for that book completely blew my mind. He wasn’t even trying to sound respectful?! I’m a huge fan of The Illuminae Files but I feel like I’m just going to have to cut him out of my TBR now. And I can’t even with Eleanor & Park. The fact that R*inbow R*well isn’t even saying anything to address the situation is so frustrating. The problem isn’t going to go away just because you don’t say anything 😩

    But aNyway. Your recommendations are lovely and so spot on! A Song of Wraiths and Ruin was really such a brilliant book, I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel!! I also can’t wait to read The Gilded Wolves, Scythe, and Wings of Ebony — they all sound fantastic! I’m also in the middle of The Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao, which is another diverse fantasy that I would definitely recommend so far.

    Great discussion Ahaana! 🥰

    Liked by 3 people

    1. omg tysm abby! exactly! i wish we had more fantasy with positive representation, and characters who are proud to be POC! as well as stories about love and friendship, rather than trauma! 😭

      omg same! i’m not on twitter OR insta, but i have seen a ton of people discussing it, and somehow i managed to stumble upon the threads 😂 but exactlyyyy! so many international authors and reviewers are straight-up denied physical ARCs because of the shipping costs – but apparently, it doesn’t cost too much to have four special edition ARCs… all for the same person! which just confuses me – because like you said, ARCs are for reviewing! i feel like r*ainbow r*well has *tried* being inclusive by writing LGBTQIA+ stories, but i really think she should speak up about eleanor & park, because i know it’s hurt tons of people!

      thank you so much! i cannot wait to read a song of wraiths and ruin – but i absolutely ADORED wings of ebony and the gilded wolves – so i hope you enjoy that too! thank you for the recommendation and your lovely comment 💖


  4. Oh my gosh, I LOVED this post so much! I think that this was the most interested in a post that I’ve been in a very long time (not gonna lie, I usually skim most posts bloggers put out but I was reading this thing word for word for word for word). Wow, that book…I’d actually never heard of Stormdancer, though I have heard of the author….I read the author’s note…what??? ‘she’s chinese but you get the point’ excuse me??? This is why proofreaders/beta readers need to be more of a thing. Particularly, beta readers of the culture you might be writing about so that you don’t publish a book about a culture that you aren’t without anyone from that culture actually telling you what you did right or wrong. White people cannot just write a book based wherever they want because it’s a NeW sEtTiNg without knowing anything about the culture in that place. Setting is about more than just the PLACE, it’s about the people, the culture in the place.
    I totally agree that YA fantasy/sci fi need more diversity. I think it’s getting a lot better in the recent years but there’s still definitely a long way’s to go. I loved your list of suggestions, I think I’ve read/want to read most of these but it’s an awesome list! I’d also suggest Cemetery Boys (though I know it’s pretty well known), Felix Ever After and I’ll Be the One (that’s also pretty well known, I don’t know how well known, but yah). I find it interesting that you put Scythe on there because while the characters aren’t white, it’s basically described that everyone’s sort of a mix of all ethnicities because it’s so far in the future and this is still a book written by a white man. Still, it was an okay book (I’m not the biggest fan–I just didn’t enjoy the series in general that much).
    I tend to stay away from books that aren’t #ownvoices when I know they aren’t #ownvoices because I’m wary of how authors will show the representation–I just wish that authors could have better rep when they aren’t the rep they’re trying to show! It’s not that hard, people! It’s called g o o g l e.
    Uh wow this is a super long comment, sorry about that! Amaaaaaaazing post!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. this is such a great and well-written discussion post ahaana! ❤️
    and unfortunately it is the case in publishing, just like anywhere else, the white voice and white feelings and white works are valued more than those of BIPOC. BIPOC authors have to deal with so much shit, not only in their own workspaces and publishing houses, but also from readers and reviewers. anytime a BIPOC author makes a mistake it’s immediate cancel time, whereas white cishet authors get second and third chances time and time again. and anytime a BIPOC author /dains/ to write a trope or a similar story line it’s agh this book is trash, but white books have been doing the same for years and don’t get the same backlash at all.
    it’s so disconcerting in an industry that’s supposed to be publishing works that uplifting marginalized voices but still don’t take our voices and criticism into account.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I can tell you put a lot of work into this post. I loved it reading this. That’s really disappointing that authors like Kristoff are being racist, I’ve really enjoyed some of his books. I also heard about the hate crimes in Atlanta and was horrified. Thanks for taking the time to put together the list!

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  7. I loved this post! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It is always so important to stay educated and it can be hard to keep up.
    I am reading glided Wolves right now and Scythe is on my TBR for this month! I am not a huge fantasy fan but I adore An Ember in the Ashes!

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  8. Good for you for standing up for the Asian culture! Especially for standing up in a civil manner. However, you might want to be careful when speaking about these authors. I know that there are many authors who write a diversely set book just for the publicity it can get instead of writing so readers to relate, but I do believe that there are many authors who aren’t trying to be racist and are simply writing the story they wanted. There are always people who will choose to be ignorant, and those who don’t mean to be. Sometimes we as readers want to get as much from a book as there is, and sometimes misread, or over-interpret certain subjects, though. 😉 Not saying you are, if you say you’ve seen these themes in those books, who am I to tell you that you haven’t. THAT would be ignorant. Haha! Happy reading!

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    1. Great point Millay! I agree, the bookish community can have a tendency to blow things out of proportion because of misinterpretation (see: book Twitter). I do think that we have a responsibility to call out people who are writing the story they wanted, as you put it, but who unintentionally hurt minority groups in the process because of their privilege. In Jay Kristoff’s case, I think readers have enough reason to be angry, particularly because he’s been involved in some other controversies in the past. But we should definitely find a way to find a balance between correcting hurtful ideas and doing it in an understanding, respectful manner, especially if the author shows a willingness to improve!

      Thank you for making this point Millay! ❤️

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      1. Completely! Everyone is entitled to their own voice (see what I did there 😉 ) on all topics, it is just to remember to be as respectful as possible, like you said! From what you say about Jay Kristoff, I completely understand readers anger towards him. But him, and like authors aside, many authors are just trying to write their story that flows from their heart. Sometimes there are circumstances that can be taken offense too, but, if I were an author, I’d find it VERY difficult to try an appease EVERY SINGLE PERSON. Even not being an author and being a blogger instead, I know that no matter how careful and respectful I try to be, someone WILL ALWAYS take offense. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, too, Abby! xoxo

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        1. hi millay! omg i completely agree with you – i think a lot of people and bloggers tend to blow things out of proportion, and sometimes authors just want to get more readers to relate! i completely appreciate and support that – and i know that everyone has different experiences, which is why i’ve just picked books a majority of people have been affected by! for example, rainbow rowell wrote some very bad asian rep in eleanor & park, that made people feel ashamed of their ethnicity, but i love that she’s trying more now, to be more inclusive, and also doing proper research! j*y kr*stoff, on the other hand, i mean, yes, i know people love the aurora cycle, and the illuminae files, and no, i’m not saying he’s a bad author or anything, but if you read the twitter threads, and resources linked, you can find everything wrong with stormdancer, and why its rep is really harmful!

          thank you so much for sharing your opinions, millay! i completely agree with some of your points, and someone will always take offense with a certain book, but these are just what has hurt the majority! 💞💞

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh my gosh thank you for writing so an amazing post. I think you articulate this topic so well. I feel like so many readers defend these authors and say that they’ve changed yet I’ve only heard crickets from Kr*stoff. I really can’t believe that he’s getting four physical arcs for his new book when BIPOC authors struggle to get just one. This is the same man that said he ate pocky until his eyes bled and watched anime as “research” for his Stormdancer series. Like ???

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  10. this is such a sensitive, well-written post. rainbow rowell and jay kristoff are two of the most hard-hittig examples of privilege in the book world. the fact that they used Asian culture for their own means is terrible. plus, FOUR fancy arcs??? in a time when countless authors are barely able to get their book published, let alone an e-ARC? yeah, no thanks. on a brighter note…i LOVE The Giled Wolves series and Legendborn and Scythe! The Sword of Kaigen is definitely on my TBR. Great post 💜

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  11. This is such a wonderful post!! I’m not really on twitter these days just popping in occasionally so I read some scattered bits of the discourse about Jay Kristoff without knowing the context lmao and was very confused but you explained it wonderfully in this post and I absolutely agree with everything you said. four arcs???? Supporting own voices books is so important, and I love some of your recs, like gilded wolves and fever king, and definitely have most of the ones I haven’t read yet on my tbr!!

    I feel like books that aren’t “racist” but have a few problematic aspects are a bit trickier because obviously after reading this post I don’t want to support Kristoff like nothanku but I feel like books like cinder it’s fine to enjoy them and rec them, just make sure you’re also reading/recommending ov books!! (that’s coming from me as an asian whose favorite series is the lunar chronicles lmao I am a clown). obviously it’s a fine line to tread though–at what point is it “too bad”? I would never want to support racist books… but also avoiding every single book that has one line that someone takes the slightest offense with seems like just too much, especially when I’m sure many authors genuinely do their research and just make a mistake.

    (side note, I genuinely don’t know what’s so bad about the grishaverse? I’ve seen some people seem determined to hate the show based on some out of context comments when it’s not even out yet lmao like give it a chance I’m over here just happy to see a hapa like me in a fantasy series for the first time in my life lol)

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  12. I LOVE YOU AHAANA💖 A lot of people should realise that Eleanor & Park is seriously a racist and disgusting book that just targets the beauty of Korean culture. As I am a part of Korea, this offended me a lot about how the author would write such things about Park. And the fact that there are so many racist books out there in the world that still gets an average rating of 4.5 pains me.
    This topic really needed to be said out loud and I’m honestly so thankful that you made a post about it 😌

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  13. this is such a wonderful and important post, Ahaana – thank you for your hard work and efforts in putting this discussion together! it’s really important to call out racism (both blatant and casual/implicit) in books and to uplift diverse books by BIPOC!! ❤ and thank you for including my recommendation of ASOWAR in this post hehe, it's truly an incredible and captivating YA fantasy and i hope you love it as much as i did!! 🤩 love that we have similar book tastes, our power 😌😌 i've also read Scythe and 100% agree that it is an amazing book/series, it was super thought-provoking and philosophical and i really loved that. i'm also really excited to read The House in the Cerulean Sea soon, esp since i've heard that it's super heartwarming :)) lovely post and discussion, Ahaana!

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  14. I love this post so much!! I hated Eleanor and Park when I first read it but not because of the racism, which I only became aware of once I joined the book community. And that made me hate the book even more. What I am so mad about is when POC writers make a misstep they get cancelled no questions asked (the blood heir controversy, which made me so mad when I searched about it) but white authors get chances when they havent even done the bare minimum of apologising.

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  15. this is so important !! ive never read j*y kr*stoff’s books bc he was always a lil too problematic for my taste. loved this post tho — it broke down the controversy in a simple way

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  16. I was going to say I’ve not read anything by Jay Kristoff but then I realised I have read Aurora Rising which was co written by him (really didn’t like that book though), but based on what I’ve heard other people say about his characters in other books, he does have a habit of hypersexualising teenage girl characters. I found that off putting enough and never felt the need to go read anything else by him – even more reason now hearing what you’re saying.

    My relationship with YA fantasy is quite iffy really but I have found that the ones I’ve enjoyed the most have always been ones with stories and cultures inspired by the diversity of the authors. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin was an excellent read (can’t wait for book 2), and I recently read Raybearer which I really liked. Also, We Hunt the Flame by Hafsa Faizal.

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  17. Thank you for this post, Ahaana!! This is very important. The racism and lack of diversity among many other bad things in the bookish, and nonbookish world too, is absolutely horrible. Diversity is so important!!!!!!

    Legendborn was sooo amazing and so was Children of Blood and Bone! So many of those recs look amazing, I really need to take a trip to the library and/or bookstore soon to get your recommendations!!! I have so many books on my TBR!🤣😛 Some of my favorite diverse books are Cinderella Is Dead, everything by Marie Lu, The Girl and the Goddess: Stories and Poems of Divine Wisdom by Nikita Gill, and The Cemetery Boys!!!

    Again, thank you for this wonderful post, Ahaana!💕

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This post brilliantly put what’s been going around in social media, especially in the book community. I never read any JK novel, but with what I’m hearing about him, I’m sure I’ll not be picking any of his books anytime soon. It’s okay for white authors to write a book with a non-white character, but I want there to be a genuine representation of that character instead of fetishizing or orientalising.

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  19. I feel like so many “old favourites” were always problematic but most readers (white I mean) never realised until it is point out. Eleanor and Park is quite old, I read it years ago and remember nothing, but I might have given it a cool rating if I found it enjoyable. These days I feel like readers are much more quick to realise which books have problematic representations. But I totally agree with you on all your points!

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  20. Wonderful post, Ahaana! This is such an important discussion to have around calling out problematic authors. I also loved that you included recommendations to uplift BIPOC authors and ownvoices books! Thank you for including my recommendation 💜

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  21. Such a wonderful post! I think the whole ARC issue shows how deep-rooted the problem is. Like Stormdancer sounds next-level messy (I read the reviews you linked to and just… yikes. Yikes doesn’t even begin to cover it tbh, but yeah.) And like- I get that it’s a decade-old book and everything, BUT, the fact that publishers are choosing THIS author’s book to promote the heck out of (and let’s be real, JK doesn’t *need* the promo at all) instead of authors who would really benefit from their book being in the hands of reviewers says a lot. Especially because let’s be real, we know who is going to be the recipients of said “exclusive” ARCs too- the most popular and privileged (and almost exclusively white) influencers. So it’s almost a double whammy- you’ve got diverse authors being pushed aside AND diverse reviewers being pushed aside. It’s garbage, I wholly agree. Especially since I don’t think the authors you mentioned who have written these racist novels have tried at all really to do better and/or make amends. That to me is the most egregious, that and the publishers basically ignoring these problems.

    As for your suggestions, oh my goodness, can I just like, cosign this list!? I have LOVED every single book that I have read on your list! Like- legit, Black Sun, Yesterday is History, The Gilded Ones, Scythe, Song of Wraiths and Ruin… ALL five star reads for me! Several are all-time favorites, even! And most of the rest are on my TBR so I am excited to read every last one of them! Again, such a thoughtful, beautifully written post!

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  22. This is a really powerful post Ahaana – thank you for all the research and work you put into it! I wish more books in general could properly represent the diversity of the Asian culture, because there is a lot of beauty in them that gets overlooked. It’s okay if authors who aren’t Asian want to write about cultures outside their own, but when they don’t do their research it is really frustrating. I think what you said about books like Cinder and the Grishaverse is a really good point (in Cinder, the setting just felt like a backdrop, rather than actually influencing her character, so the details came across flatter than we would’ve liked, and for the Grishaverse, when I was reading the trilogy, I was put off by how they talked about Shu Han’s experimentation). I think that the aspects that aren’t trying to be off putting but are, were there in the first place because they were influenced by negative and false stereotypes that have already been around for a while and circulated by the media, so it would be incredibly helpful if those stereotypes were dismantled. There’s still a lot of work to be done in regards to diversity in publishing, but I’m thankful for the advances that have been and are continuing to be made, and hopefully with more awareness thanks to posts like yours, real change can be brought around soon.

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  23. Thank you for this post! It’s so disgusting (and disappointing) when authors use Asian culture for the aesthetics and don’t bother to speak up when the Asian community is being targeted. Honestly, it’s not only the authors that have to change but also, I think, the publishing industry also needs to change. Sometimes I do not know why certain books are published.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. […] Discussion Post: Talking About Diversity, Inclusivity, and Representation in YA Fantasy + 13 Diverse… I’m really proud of this post, because I spent a lot of time researching on everything, plus, the!! formatting!! I also feel like diversity in books is a topic close to my heart, so along with the post being a lot of hard work, it was also something that made me feel proud? at the end. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Wonderful discussion, Ahaana! You touch on lots of interesting examples (some of which I wasn’t aware of) and I completely agree with you. You also highlighted some great books, I enjoyed The Gilded Wolves and The House In The Cerulean Sea, they contain such positive representation! 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Ahaana! This is such a great post, and I’m really impressed with all the research you put into this discussion and cited your sources and… yeah, I’ve been tutoring too many people who need help writing essays haha. I honestly read this as an informal essay, tbh? It’s *very good* from that standpoint. If you’re looking for feedback, I would say to make a follow-up post encompassing more discussion points. Like, big publishers can get away with not publishing diverse books and it won’t hurt them monetarily, but there are smaller publishers who SPECIALIZE in diverse books. There’s also the whole institutionalized racism aspect of how POC authors have all too often in history been denied access to the resources that would have allowed them to become authors, whether through something as fundamental as access to reading material that would inspire them, or publishers turning them away. Likewise, queer literature has all too often been stigmatized as “dirty” and kept away from (especially younger) readers if it could even be published at all, and…. whew, there are a lot of things to consider! Again, I think you did a wonderful job with this post, and I’m eager to see you write more discussion posts in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Yes yes yes to all of the recommendations.
    100% agree with all of the j kristoff. I haven’t read any of his work but own it. 80% of my reading is by aoc particularly those identify as asain and you can definitely tell own voices and well researched as opposed to not. It makes me mad. Especially if you claim it to be say ‘Japanese steampunk’ you need to do a little more research than a quick trip to Wikipedia. And then FAIL to step forward and use your platform to speak out about Asian hates crimes and racism. Cultural appropriation much?

    Liked by 1 person

  28. This is so amazing!!! Thank you sm for this (:

    I’ve always been frustrated by YA books not being diverse enough, and honestly, up until last summer I didn’t realize diverse books existed bc I could never find any!!

    I’ve read Scythe, the Gilded Wolves, and Legendborn which were all amazing! I’m adding the others on this list to my Goodreads to-read shelf immediately (:

    Thanks so much for this strong post! We need more people like you who use their platforms to help underrepresented groups. Keep up the amazing work!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Great post, Ahaana! It is honestly so easy to add diversity in books that feeling frustrated about the majority books makes sense. However, many authors are now being more intentional about diversity and there are more own voices books coming out. So, slowly, we will change the dynamic.

    P. S. while The House in the Cerulean Sea is magical and cute, recently it has come to light that the book appropriates a tragedy of the Indigenous people in Canada, as the author took inspiration from that without paying homage to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much, sumedha! right!?! i honestly get very annoyed when that happens, because you could add representation so easily, and ask for #ownvoices beta readers so easily! hopefully that’ll change soon, because i’ve been reading some really amazing diverse books lately, and there are so many more out there to be found.

      thank you so much for letting me know! i do remember reading about that a while ago, and i marked the book as will-avoid on goodreads, but i forgot to update the post, so i’ll do that right away!

      Liked by 1 person

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