The Red Pyramid [Review]

Okay, let me start with this: The title of this post is a LIE.

I know, I know, that’s not the best thing to do to regain your trust and attention, dear reader. But, I had to draw you in because I have something very important to say.

Come close. Closer. Just a bit closer.

Okay, that’s good. Now listen closely, very closely or you’re liable to miss what I’m about to say.

Rick Riordan wrote a book with two biracial protagonists, and they’re not stock characters.

I know! This isn’t really a review, because I’m only about a third of the way through the book. But I had to go back and make sure that I was hearing things correctly. Now, I’m enjoying the story in an offhand way, (it makes for light summer reading, and the similarities to the Percy Jackson series are myriad) but I am intrigued by the fact that Riordan, who has become a veritable powerhouse in the YA Fantasy genre, decided to write a series featuring biracial protagonists.

Thankfully his portrayal of them hasn’t proved heavy handed yet, but my negro-sense is tingling. I mean, we’re all familiar with the argument that white writers may be unable to realistically tell stories involving characters of other races, particularly African-American characters. There have been a couple of scenes that were handled well, such as Carter’s (the male protagonist’s) father instilling in him the familiar principle that, as an African-American male, you have to be four times as better than white counterparts (and thus, must dress like an “old man”). Still, I wonder: Why choose this book to have biracial characters? Was it a whim? The Red Pyramid uses Egypt as a backdrop this time, maybe he felt like it would be inauthentic to historically racebend the cast, and write a book full of fair-skinned blond Egyptians?

Some reviews don’t even mention the race of the characters at all. I suppose that’s what we’re shooting for though, right? Colorblind literature in which a character’s ethnicity doesn’t matter/isn’t important?

Whatever his reasons, I’m keeping an eye and two ears peeled. I’m a fan of Riordan’s work, and I’d hate to have to stop reading him because he proves to be a bit too heavy handed or stereotypical in his portrayal of the Kane siblings.

Do you have an experience with a White author portraying a POC in speculative fiction? Was is a good or bad experience? Did it make you angry that the White author felt able to tell a POC’s story, or were you comfortable with it?

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