Friday, September 20, 2013

Chosen Ones and Ones Who Choose - Powder Perfect Indie Polish Review

To round off the week, I have a post for you today with something I love, and something I hate.

Let's start with the positives! You might remember the delightful lipstick I got from local indie label Powder Perfect that I posted about a little while ago. Powder Perfect also make nail polishes, so of COURSE I had to try out one of them as well. The one that really jumped out at me is called Children of The Moon, and is apparently inspired by the Mortal Instruments series of books. Honestly, I am NOT a fan of these books, and I'll go into more detail about why in a little bit, but this polish looked SO pretty that I decided I didn't give a damn about the association with the books, it was worth picking up anyway.

Children of The Moon is dark indigo jelly base filled with tons and tons of blue, silver, and grey hexes in various sizes. It's not quite as much of a glitterbomb as the average Femme Fatale, but it's certainly right up there. I decided to wear it over a plain navy base, but to be honest I probably didn't really need to bother.

This polish had really great coverage, and considering the amount of glitter jammed into it, was really easy to use. Because all the glitters are similar sizes, it creates a great sense of depth without much fiddling or dabbing required. I actually didn't even dab this at all - that's just how much glitter comes out when you put it on normally.

I was concerned the dark blue glitters would get lost in the dark indigo base, but they actually glow quite beautifully through the jelly finish. I will definitely be heading back to Powder Perfect to try a few more from this range, despite my complete lack of interest in the books that inspired it.

Now, before I get right into the negative, I do want to make one thing clear - I don't have a problem with silly, over simplistic, overly optimistic books, for teenagers or for anyone else. I quite enjoy them sometimes. I was a huge David Eddings fan back in the day, and I still love me some Anne McCaffrey. But I just can't deal with all the passive, simpering heroines around right now. Maybe I'm just old and persnickety, but teenage fantasy fiction seems to be full of passive, wildly irritating "chosen ones" at the moment. Katniss is proactive and awesome, and I can dig The Hunger Games. But just thinking about Bella from Twilight makes me want to tear my own eyes out.

I also don't have any particular issue in general with the Chosen One trope in fiction meant for teenagers. Let's face it, for most people adolescence rates on a scale from awful to unbearable, and the idea of someone being able to Make It All Better is just too comforting to ever really go away. The trope can, and has been subverted in a lot of interesting ways - the most amusing example I can think of off the top of my head is Rincewind from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, who is Chosen purely on the basis of being such an abject coward he was sure to survive. But I don't think this trope ALWAYS needs to be subverted - sometimes plots become tropes simply because they make a lot of people happy. I don't think there's anything wrong with dreaming of a magical savior that will come and take you away - so long as you understand that a) this almost certainly won't happen and b) even if it does, you will still have to contribute to your own future happiness. And this is why I hate passive Chosen Ones so much, like Clary and Bella and all the other pains in the ass currently clogging up teen literature, and admire Ones Who Choose instead.

Pretty much all of Terry Pratchett's witches in his Discworld series
fit the definition of Ones Who Choose, but I could write a post on them alone.

When trying to remember "chosen ones" of fiction I really admired growing up, I admittedly mostly came up with male characters. I was a huge fantasy buff as a teenager, and a shit ton of fantasy is totally male centric. But then I remembered a book I loved to literal peices, called Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey. It features a heroine named Talia, who very much fits the archetype of "Ones Who Choose" that I think teen fiction needs more of.

In some ways, Arrows of The Queen is total Little Girl Bait - the heroine is taken away by a magical white horse, for goodness sake. But it other ways, I think there are some really interesting and cool differences between this and say, City of Bones. The most important of these differences, to my mind, is that Talia had ALREADY chosen to reject the expectations put on her by a society she didn't agree with, BEFORE the magical horse shows up. At just 13, she is depicted as being strong willed and motivated enough to have looked at the future being proposed for her, and to decide that she would rather do ANYTHING else. It's while she's taking a rest after running away, trying to figure out what she's going to do next that she gets Chosen by the magical horse. Even if the magical horse hadn't shown up, there is every chance she wouldn't have gone back to her family. She could have kept running, and ended up on any number of adventures.

I know, I know, the cover makes it look like Mills and Boon with a horse. But I swear it's good!
This is what I think makes Talia more interesting than your standard Chosen One. What would have happened to Harry Potter if the owl hadn't shown up? Nothing, that's what. He would have lived a small, miserable life under the stairs until he possibly lost his shit and murdered his awful adoptive parents. And the same goes for so many other "Chosen Ones" in recent fiction - they're just going about their ordinary lives, until something extraordinary happens, and then they just kind of go along for the ride. Even after Talia is swept away by the magical horse to the big city where she gets to be a super special lady in waiting for the Queen (no, really, that's the story) it's presented as a choice she has to deliberately make. She has to decide to stay, decide to take on the responsibility, and decide to make the most of it. If she wants to, she can make the choice to go home again. You know that of course, she's not going to do it because come ON, it's a magical freaking telepathic horse, but it is presented as a choice, not just something that happens to her.

I'd love to hear what you guys think. Am I being a grumpy old lady, shaking my cane at the kids of today? Or do you think there is a problem with the heroines of recent teen books?

While you ponder that, you should wander on over to Powder Perfect's Esty store, and check out their amazing range of lipsticks, nail polish, and cuticle balm!

Before You Go!

I know not everyone is a Facebook person, but if you ARE a Facebook person and you like Australian indie nail polish, you should join a group I've helped start that is devoted to getting all there is to know about Australian indie polish in one beautiful, wallet draining place.


  1. This may just be a volume and pop culture problem. There is a lot more fantasy being published today than in our youth. Which means lots more tripe along with lots more good stuff.
    I've certainly found that to be the case with music anyway.
    But my view may be skewed as I tend to avoid the kind of books with passive chosen ones.

  2. Hooray! I am so delighted that I am not the only one who is so irritated by Bella and co. that I want to scratch my eyes out. I hate the passive "waiting for a hero" bull shit that it teaches. Young Talia sounds much more my style. Great post and love the nail polish x

  3. When I think back to my favourite books as a youth, they did not feature passive chosen ones, and I think it goes back to my favourite story featuring the all time assertive heroine figure - my mother. She told lots of stories about her upbringing, and her favourite one was always fighting her father on her need to be further educated (he was an old fashioned, closed minded Italian immigrant). Her tenacity at pursuing a teaching career resulted in finally, FINALLY getting his signature of consent.

    As a consequence, I never even went near Twilight, knowing full well I would hate such a pathetic character!


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