Sunday, January 31, 2010

Metal Cutlery @ KFC

The other day, after a job interview, I went to KFC and had chicken rice. It's mainly two pieces of chicken, a bowl of rice, three slices of cucumber, and a small bowl of soup with a couple of meatballs in it. It was quite delicious, because a) our chicken generally tastes better (I suspect it is due to the halal state of the meat), b) it's been localized, what with the rice and all, and c) you gotta have soup to finish off the meal, you just gotta.

One of the things that's always frustrated me about the Canadian KFC franchise, besides the general disgustingness of the chicken that I will consume anyway (hey, low bars and all), is the lack of metal cutlery. What we get are plastic forks and knives, maybe spoons. And we're supposed to use these on paper plates.

I hate this concept. I hate using plastic cutlery. No, I don't care about your excuses, Canadian KFC. I don't care that it's cheaper, because buying a set amount of metal cutlery that can be re-used over and over again is most likely WAY cheaper than continuously buying plastic cutlery. Not only that, but in the long run, re-using metal cutlery is better for waste and the environment than continuously contributing to plastic waste. We also have re-useable plates. Those are a form of plastic, but they can be washed easily, and re-used. That's the important bit.

I don't care that it's inefficient, either. Plastic cutlery is inefficient. I know that people are expected to clean up after themselves in fast-food restaurants (and I got a bone to pick with your speed too, KFC! And MacDonald's!), but they don't always, and they don't always get the garbage separating thing correct, either. I see a lot of people toss organics into trash, because it's easier to assume everything is trash. Just pay a couple of your already-employed employees to do the job, so they can get it done right! Oh, sure you have to wash metal cutlery, but seriously? How much work does it take to wash up cutlery? Not only that, but if it's so much goddamn effort to wash cutlery, then isn't that good for the economy and some folks that there's one more venue for dishwashing jobs? 

Plus, your stupid plastic cutlery breaks, okay! They just don't do the job right! They're weak, and they're hard to use, so you filthy people just end up using your fingers anyway, and you don't even have a lot of open sinks outside your toilets for use. (We do. We have at least two. One higher, one lower for kids, with soap dispenser and hand-dryer.) I shudder to think about what your kids are learning about hygiene! 

Get your act together, Canadian KFC! Metal cutlery, re-useable plates, and more public sinks!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Some Thoughts on Avatar: The Last Airbender

- Aang is not white. Nothing about him codes as white. Maybe he has peachy skin which looks white to some folks, but that doesn't mean anything, since a lot of us Asians have somewhat peachy skin too. Nonetheless, I can see how some people can code him as white, because of his bald head. Yes, I said it: his bald head makes it easy to code him as white. A kid can easily imagine him with blond or light brown or red hair then. 

I do not know any reason to code Aang as white unless you're that kind of kid who wants to pretend he's the hero, and you're white. Which is completely understandable.

- King Bumi and many other Earth Kingdom characters really strongly code as South-East Asian to me. Haru, for example, I first took for a Malay boy. He could also be Filipino, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Thai, but to me, I coded him as Malay. It also helps that the Earth Kingdom colour is green. Green is the color of Islam, you know. Not only that, but the hats they wear look like songkoks. I'm sure there are other cultures which have hats like those. Nonetheless, to be able to see people I grew up among is pretty incredible. 

That, and Bumi is derived from Sanskrit, and Bumi means "earth" in Sanskrit AND Malay (and possibly a few other languages in the region). 

- How the FUCK can Dev Patel play Zuko? How does this even work?

- At this point, I should also probably mention how pleased I was to not see a single white person in this series at all. Since Aang doesn't count as white, no, not a lick of whiteness. Yes, the American dialogue shows through, very very strongly, but then, plenty of Asian-Americans speak that way. 

- And how awesome was Iroh, eh? I found the clearly Asian accent punctuating the Americanisms to work together wonderfully well. It adds a layer of self-reflexivity to the whole thing, plus, the accent made everything sound funnier. There's a special cadence to the Asian accent that makes it slow and measured. ATLA's MTV humour is fast-paced and quick. Combine the two   

- Mike Perschon and Lavie Tidhar, you should probably take note of this: steampunk elements within an entirely Asian setting, combining technology with the magic system. It gives another angle to the idea of "magical technology"!

- Pleasant: lack of sexism. Not so pleasant: most random background characters tend to default to male. 

- I know Toph is awesome, and Teo's wheelchair was also pretty neat, but despite that, I still think Toph belongs in SuperCrip territory. Her blindness is realistically depicted (she never looks at people when talking to them, she's at a complete disadvantage when not standing on her feet, and when Zuko accidentally burns her feet, she has trouble getting around, and she also periodically reminds the others that she can't see), but other than her, there isn't a realistic depiction of a regular blind person. Teo is a much more realistic PWD, but we don't see much of him to see how well he deals with places that don't work well with his wheelchair. 

- I am deeply impressed by the amount of research and work that has gone into the setting, modeling martial arts styles, and employing a calligrapher for the background setting. It's very impressive to see actual Chinese characters, and of different types, too. I don't think I've ever seen this much research go into a setting in an American cartoon before, and it's even more impressive when you consider that this was made for the 6-11 age group. Not only does this show great respect for the inspiration cultures, it also shows great respect for the children who are the audience. Too often, writers and producers assume that children won't care about such details, nor about continuity, and while this is true, what is produced is often subpar and slapdash. But when you put a lot of effort, love and respect into your work, it shows, and this is communicated to the audience, who will respond positively. 

Anyway, Ay-Leen and I may have a larger article coming out on the steampunk elements of the series at some point, or some cracktastic discussion. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Malaysiana: the DiGi Man

A few years ago, DiGi Malaysia, a mobile phone service, had an ad campaign. DiGi's best known for its prepaid service, which in North America is called pay-as-you-go, which I think is silly. Anyway, DiGi's signal mascot in this campaign was the Yellow Man. Despite being an anthropomorphism of telephonic coverage, Digi Yellow Man has some personality to him, although in the first ad, those aren't much more than loyalty, a somewhat cheery disposition, curiousity in both what you do and the world around him, and a dogged determination to follow you everywhere you go, even to the bathroom:

He will be available at your disposal even out in the middle of nowhere, and will be your constant companion wherever you go:

Even on your wedding day:

Digi Yellow Man always wants to be the first to serve, and will fight to be of service:

But DiGi Yellow Man is under no obligation to never be embarrassed about you when you decide to be a rude obnoxious jerk in a cinema:

Nor does he appreciate being disturbed during the movie, either:

DiGi Yellow Man also really likes nature:

When DiGi's campaign decided to show how good the coverage was, even extending overseas, that's when things got a bit iffy. For example, the imagery of the Japanese DiGi partner where our favourite Yellow Man hands over his "human" to the Japanese representative, borders on the stereotypical image of sumo wrestlers:

The thing about this is that it's not even just Japan, but to indicate coverage all over Asia. Yet Asia is represented with the Japanese wrestler image, whereas Africa is represented by a warrior of some sort, no less stereotypical, in black, who greets and exchanges with Yellow Man a funny dance:

Yellow Man also exchanges a secret handshake with the white, European representation, who is depicted as significantly less threatening as the other two, so much so that Yellow Man has no qualms about showing how he's keeping his eye on the European rep:

I'm guessing after a bit of all this silliness, DiGi decided to step up its campaign, and gave us a much more macho DiGi Yellow Man, in the boot camp, military-style way:

Which was followed up with a parkour-esque Yellow Man test to make sure every DiGi Yellow Man on the street was up to par, and even had to earn the bars on his chest:

Today, DiGi pays dudes to dress up as this mascot - bright yellow costumes, sometimes with large bellies (we Asians have complicated relationships with large tummies), with five full bars on the belly to indicate always strong coverage.

And yes, our telecommunications are better than what I get in Canada. In Canada, I lose coverage when I go inside the mall. That shouldn't happen, ya'll. It's just wrong.

Anyway, hope you liked this introduction to the DiGi Yellow Man.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Write: On Dragons

So the other day, the following chain of events happened: 1) Lavie Tidhar revealed to us the new cover of the Dragon and the Star anthology, of fiction by ethnic Chinese writers all over the world. 2) The cover looks awful, and my friend Joyce asked, why is it a Western dragon, not an Oriental dragon? Because, after all, this is an anthology of Chinese writers writing specifically Chinese-inspired fiction. The cover looks like an average dragon fantasy anthology, which isn't what the anthology is about. Anyway, 3) while we studied the features of the dragon closely to see what coded it as suitable for this anthology, I suggested, maybe it's a mixed-race dragon, because, even though Asian parents' genes will dominate over European-Caucasian genes, there's always that possibility, and 4) clearly, someone needed to write a story about that. Joyce did. I tried, but I ended up writing a story about an exchange student dragon. (Her situation is significantly more angsty than mine ever was.)

But I was thinking about Chinese dragons in the mythology I grew up on, comparing them to the Western dragons such as those I read in Dragonlance novels and other fairy tales. I'm gonna talk about Chinese dragons, in particular, because Oriental dragons are not in my purview for several reasons:

1) Obviously, the term "Oriental", centering an Eurocentric perspective, isn't useful, because
2) It covers a LOT of ground. A Chinese dragon is probably a bit different from the Japanese dragon, for example. I don't know by how much, but I'm sure there're some little differences. The Orient's gone from just being about India and the Arab world to encompass the rest of Asia.
3) I'm drawing from specifically Chinese sources, or at least, those Chinese sources in my memory.
4) I may also compare them to what I know of tropes regarding European dragons.

So. Chinese dragons. They are usually long and skinny. They have bulbous eyes in a lot of statues (hence, the longan fruit, when translated, is Dragon Eye), and they have long whiskers, that flow from their faces which like crosses between certain monkeys, lizards, and lions.

They are guardians which are appointed posts and kingdoms to rule and maintain peace in, and do not randomly pick off peasants unless they've gone bad. Like humans, they, too, are bound by laws of magic and nature.

Chinese dragons do not have wings. In fact, I can't think of a single Asian dragon which does. For very obvious reasons, dragons don't need wings to fly in the sky. They're dragons. (Also, they're probably based on dinosaurs and crocodiles, most of which do not have wings.)

Chinese dragons are not vindictive. They get power-hungry, certainly, but that's because like humans, they're bound by hierarchies and in hierarchies, certain traits will occur.

They are also highly intelligent beings, and I don't just mean in the complicated-species sort of way. They're the purveyors of wisdom, keepers of knowledge and magic and wonderful strange artifacts. They speak to humans not on the same level, but on a higher level, because dragons are a form of immortal.

They do not pick off random cows from farms.

They are more often good than evil, and more often neutral than either, and are not simply to be ridden on, like horses, for transportation, unless one of them invites you to. They are either noble creatures, or they're introverts who have their own treasures that ought to be left the heck alone unless you want to be a thief. In which case you, the human, have some serious thinking to do about your priorities.

Chinese dragons are not to be disrespected. You don't hunt down dragons as if they were prey, you approach them with great caution. Because they are magical and immortal, and better than you. Actually, you don't hunt down anything magical and immortal.

They are legendary and not metaphors for humanity, but an aspect of the world, the mysterious world that we can never see as a whole because we are only human, and thus, unless we work hard to perfect ourselves, can never seen cosmic largeness with mere eyes.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Power of Silence

So the last while I've been feeling like, really awful. I'm at home, typing on my new laptop, the keys of which I'm still not used to, and trying to keep abreast of the blogosphere. I've been having a lot of thoughts in my head, but it's like, one ear in, the other ear out, and moreover, the longer I stay in Malaysia, the more I think in short sentences, none of which are useful for very long blog posts like this one.

The other day, while making name cards for myself (another project which isn't going too well, seeing as my Photoshop skills are set at Basic), I thought it would be nice to have in the background, "Silence may be golden, but diverse voices make a symphony."

Oddly enough, just a few days after I thought this up, this feature on gold came up on The Big Picture, which solidified a few things I was thinking about the saying, "silence is golden."

Gold, being a limited resource and, well, very shiny, is valued. I like gold, particularly white gold, mostly because unlike silver, it doesn't tarnish, which is one of the reasons why a lot of people like gold. To remain untarnished is a bit like immortality. Also, gold craftmanship is pretty awesome, because it's such a fragile material.

In no way do I think this is applicable to silence. Silence is not valued because it doesn't tarnish. It can't look bad when tarnished, because silence is what does the act of tarnishing.

At the cost of gold, to decorate a few, many have to go into mud and dig. They put their lives in peril, and from the looks of it, they don't live exactly picture-perfect lives.

Yes, silence is great. When someone else is talking, stay quiet and let them have their say. Silence is good for concentration; clears the mind and all.

But silence is also oppressive. There isn't music in silence. To be told, continually, to be silent, when others get to speak all the time, is to be ignored, devalued, and told that your voice and your thoughts are not welcome.

Too many people are silenced in order to make those who have the freedom to speak (and think that being silent is a choice) comfortable with the discourse at hand. There is only certain music that can be played, and it cannot be jarred by the insertion of an instrument that does not belong in the symphony.

There are many symphonies. If each person is a song, we can't expect them to have the same tune, nor the same genre, same riffs, same instruments. They are necessarily different.

Even if putting them together makes a cacophony, when it comes to people, we are not better served by silencing a few voices.

People are too important for that.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Blog for Choice 2010!

Today is NARAL's Blog for Choice Day, and its theme is on Dr. Tiller and on trusting women. 

I never met the man, and I wasn't even aware of what he did until he was killed. What I did know was that sometimes, for whatever reason, wanted babies cannot be carried to full-term. Whether it's due to complications, or danger of the mother's, or the baby was already dead in the womb - late-term abortions don't usually occur for shits and giggles, especially if they happen practically weeks away from the actual birthdate. 

I can't even begin to imagine how devastating that must be, to learn that for whatever reason, I won't be able to carry my baby to full-term, even though I'm almost there. It would be even worse to know it's already dead inside me, and needs to be removed or else I will die. 

But the last thing I would want happen to me is to be told I can't get the safest option possible for a late-term abortion, that I am required to put myself in further danger by doctors who are not trained in the kindest methods possible for the removal of a fetus almost large enough for birth. 

This is what Dr. Tiller provided for women. Even Canadian women went down to his clinic. That's how trusted he was compared to other doctors. 

He was trusted by women because he trusted women themselves. He didn't judge them for their decisions, only provided the service he was trained to provide, and above and beyond - he ensure their comfort, and ensured they received compassion. 

I'm sure on this day a lot of people will be talking about trusting women to make the right choices for themselves. So I'm going to talk about the needed compassion that these women almost never get from the mainstream public, because it's been percolating on my mind.

I was born a wanted child. My parents tried for two years to have me after the birth of my brother. I do not always get along with my mother, and sometimes feel my parents would have been better off without me, or with a different child. This does not erase the fact that my parents purposefully set out to make me, and bring me into this world.

One day, I will bring a wanted child into this world. Or at least, I hope to. I have names for either gender, but zie will get to change it one zie is older, if they so wish. 

If, for any reason, only a few weeks before this wanted child needs to be terminated, needs to be aborted or else I will die, or the child will die / is dead before zie is born and I require a late-term abortion, I would want to submit myself to the hands of a doctor who will ensure the safety of my health, use techniques which are kindest to my body, and provide the compassion I am sure I will need once my body is voided. I want a doctor who will be with me every step of the way, not just professionally, but emotionally.

People need that kind of caring, that kind of loving, that Dr. Tiller provided. People need a good person by their side during a time of such trial. 

And that's what I've got to say on that.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Malaysiana: Shifting Goal-Posts

In high school, I was asked, "[Jha], are you a Christian?" and I would say, no, why? "Because you speak such good English."

In Canada, I was frequently mistaken for a Canadian local, or an American.

I was told, however, on a trip to England, with a few other students on a course on Shakespeare (wherein we had two weeks of seminars on Shakespearean plays which we would then watch in Stratford-on-Avon, and every day was a flurry of lectures, discussion groups, and plays, with afternoons off), that my Malaysian accent came out once in a while, "whenever [I] discuss difficult concepts".

I didn't know I even had a Malaysian accent. It's very slight, my professor told me, but it's there, because otherwise I have a rather powerful command of English (which only makes sense, seeing as it's the only language I have so I really ought to make the best of it).

But there are other things I hide when I'm among Canadians, just as there are things I hide among Malaysians.

My Canadian friends, for example, do not get to hear me speak very often in my Malaysian accent. It's a gluttural accent. It sounds like I'm talking from the back of my throat. The grammar is mangled to match the Malay syntax. There are certain words I do not even get to use around people who aren't Malaysians.

Among Canadians, I speak the Queen's English, and I'm proud of my command of it. I share what I know of grammar. I get teasingly called the grammar nazi, but in an affectionate manner.

Among Malaysians, I tone down the Queen's English. Even among my family, I stop using "bombastic words", because otherwise no one understands what I'm talking about.

Among Canadians, I am friendly. I am open. To be honest, I am more comfortable among Canadians, or at least, Haligonians, than I am among Malaysians that I meet, on a casual level. Among Haligonians, I know the news and the weather is always safe. Thus is the fuse lit for more personal conversations.

It was only recently that I even got to be friendly with neighbours here. When I greeted random people on the street, they would look affronted, or puzzled, like I was out of line. (However, with the spat of crime in my neighbourhood, my family has become part of the neighbourhood watch, which is useful for helping people get to know each other.)

Among Canadians, and most of my Canadian friends are white, I teach people how to use chopsticks. I drag them to expensive Asian restaurants because cheap Chinese restaurants do not have proper food, and I pay for their meals so they understand what good food is. Among Canadians, I ignore advice that McDonald's is bad for you, an idea which has been exported from North America to everywhere else in the world, so now I have to put up with that bullshit in Malaysia, too.

Among Malaysians, I can take for granted that what I eat will be perfectly normal, even if it's not quite exactly how we are supposed to eat it. Even if I have to deal with folks telling me to eat certain foods I don't like. Did you know you're not Malaysian if you don't eat durian? Or cendol? Or rojak? Or [insert quintessentially Malaysian food of choice here]?

Among Canadians, I don't talk politics, because their race politics are not the race politics I grew up with. I still grapple to understand that Canada treats its Aboriginals abominably, does not realize how biased towards whites are, and still touts itself as multicultural when it is clearly monocultural with bursts of racial activity.

Among Malaysians, I listen intently to the politics but I have been away for so long, I don't think I understand what's going on anymore.

In Canada, I bitch and moan about how I don't get days off for cultural holidays unless they are (Gregorian) New Year, Christmas, and other such Christian holidays. This is the greatest hint I have that Canada is not as multicultural as it likes to say it is, because if it was, we wouldn't get holidays just for these specific celebrations - we'd have holidays across the board, or we'd have no public holidays at all and just let people take their cultural holidays off with pay.

In Malaysia, the holidays are what we get right. I also like how things are open even on such holidays, because if a Chinese person cannot be arsed to work during Chinese New Year, a Malay or an Indian will. And this, to me, is fantastic. We need to be flexible with people's cultures like that.

The thing about both spheres, though, is that I cannot have an honest discussion of most things, unless I am on the Internet. This is where both spheres disperse, dilute and collide with each other. It is where I can find people to say, "folks are being stupid" without having to go into a 101 on why, whether they are Malaysian or Canadian. I can find other Malaysians closer to me in spirit than anyone else close to me could ever be, and I can find Canadians who understand me.

But for a general audience?

I think Malaysians are excessively cruel to each other, and I think Canadians are excessively polite, both to the detriment of themselves. I can see how both strategies exist as shields in order to protect themselves from, well, themselves. But they're both kinda annoying!

I find clueless white people annoying, particularly those who pretend to be ingenuous and ask questions non-fucking-stop and I want to scream at them to shut up and go away, do their own goddamn research. I find clueless any-visible-minority annoying, but in a different way, and instead I sigh heavily and pull a facepalm.

I am generally quiet and reticent among strangers of a certain sort - the sort who are non-geeks, who do not read the same books I do, who do not care about the same issues, who believe that men are biologically inclined to be rapist assholes when given the chance, who assume evolutionary psychology is valid, who think all of humanity is, well, human, and thus are not very different from each other. I might take a chance and try to offend them. I'm less likely to if they are Malaysian, because as cruel and nasty to each other as Malaysians are, they don't handle confrontation very well. But Canadians are likely to get awkward, or patronizing. Why would I inflict that on them, eh?

But I am more awkward among Malaysians, especially Malaysian-Chinese of an older generation, because they assume I should be able to understand them when they speak Chinese, and they never know what to make of me besides a wayward child who has been in a Western country too long. Not only just a wayward child, but a wayward daughter, too outspoken, too romantic.

In Canada, I'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who don't think Asians are nifty and awesome and so cute. No one has said this to my face either. But this is because I'm apparently intimidating. I also run in circles where asshole behaviour is disapproved in general.

In Malaysia, I'n unfortunate enough to meet and encounter people such as the cashier processing my bras who told me that men like women who wear colourful underwear, and folks telling a nurse taking a man's blood pressure that a certain number is so high because she's a woman touching the patient. I can't keep calling these people out, because it would be a tremendous waste of energy.

In Canada, the men I know do not assume entitlement to sex, know that they are not exceptions to the rule for good behaviour, and understand respect for women isn't merely limited to the women he knows, but women in general.

In Malaysia, the man who understands that is apparently the exception, only one out of ten men are apparently beholden to good behaviour and the rest are manipulative bastards who will take advantage of any woman. (I cannot test the veracity of this, as I am rarely in the country for long enough to meet a lot of men.)

In the little city of Halifax, I can leave my door open while I mosey out to the laundry room outside, or during the summer, or while I cook, and I am relatively safe. Even when I go downtown, where crime is slightly on the rise, I am relatively safe. Part of it is because everyone around me also feels safe. It is easier to feel safe when everyone else has that same confidence in the goodness of everyone else.

In my large suburban hometown, we get a dog just to guard the house, so no one will come to our garden to steal our drying jeans.

Around Canadians, I talk about Malaysia. Around Malaysians, I talk about Canada.

But you can trust, that when I am around you, I am as myself as I can possibly be. But you will not ever see every aspect of me, unless you shadow me. Like the Digi Yellow Man. And you better be as adorable as him if you do.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Review: Soulless, by Gail Carriger

The blurb on the back of Soulless reads thusly: 

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.  
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. 

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

Little did I know that the action really delves into this within the first chapter itself. I'm not used to this. I'm used to some setup, some sidling in of action, some world-building first, not thrown headlong into adventure. But I had no choice with Soulless! Gail Carriger makes the reader sit right next to the action, and then proceeds to drag the reader along with the actions and thoughts of utterly charming, hilarious characters.

In the world of Soulless, werewolves and vampires exist with the pre-condition of having too much soul, whilst Alexia negates any supernatural effects of theirs because she is, as the title indicates, soulless. Which is a neat turn on the question of soul + morality. There is a Bureau of Unnatural Registry, to which Lord Maccon, werewolf and Obvious Love Interest (Due To Antagonism) is attached. This is not entirely new, but the juxtaposition against "how the Americans do it" (who don't, because the Americans are superstitious and thus mistrustful of supernatural creatures) is.

Soulless doesn't fulfill my requirements for the Perfect Novel, of course. There are, for example, virtually no Characters of Colour, unless you count the main character, Alexia, who is half-Italian and thus sports a deep tan for skin colour and faces some amount of criticism for her looks as a result of the Italian heritage. The regular woman as depicted in this novel is deeply silly (and seriously! What is wrong with outrageous hats as sported by Ivy Hisselpenny?!). And just what we needed: another novel set in England /sarcasm

 Nonetheless, this is a strong book and well worth every penny. The supernatural women, such as Countess Nadasdy, are purposefully written out of stereotype, and the deliberation is clear and obvious. Lord Akeldama, written as a fashion-mad fop, self-reflexively expressing himself with italics every other word with florid phrases ("Alexia, sugarplumiest of the plums!" is top of my list), has other sides which, although it may not seem to others as giving him all that much depth, give us something other than a one-dimensional character whose sole purpose is to give Alexia information. Because the novel is limited in its scope, there's not much chance for it to go wrong, making it an easy, thoroughly enjoyable read.

Talulah Mankiller and I had a Twitter conversation in which we considered what genre Soulless falls under. In
her blurb that her agent posted, she describes it as a "paranormal novel". There are elements of mystery, it's definitely paranormal, and there are definite overtones of steampunk. I do feel that the romance gets enough of an arc for me to count this under Paranormal Romance (and let's be honest, that genre could use some steampunk awesomeness).

Gail Carriger's voice in this novel has been lauded as unique. I don't think it is, but it is definitely flippant, off-handed, and thus, works excellently for the type of novel it is - a very self-conscious, purposefully out-to-have-fun sort of story. There were a few turns of phrases which I thought were out of place ("Gee" as an exclamation has and will never sound British to me) but the vocabulary never ventures into the overly obnoxious, overly-loaded language that some steampunks think is necessary for proper conversation.

Well worth the five hours I dedicated to reading it. And the several uncountable more hours I spent re-reading my favourite parts. Go on, pick it up.