The Continent

The Continent

For her sixteenth birthday, Vaela Sun receives the most coveted gift in all the Spire—a trip to the Continent. It seems an unlikely destination for a holiday: a cold, desolate land where two nations remain perpetually locked in combat. Most citizens lucky enough to tour the Continent do so to observe the spectacle and violence of battle, a thing long vanished in the peacef...

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Title:The Continent
Author:Keira Drake
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Continent Reviews

  • Kathleen (QueenKatieMae)

    My first hint should have been the fact this is a Harlequin Teen novel. Romance novels make me roll my eyes too much but a YA romance makes me roll them so hard they get stuck to the back of my head. The Continent is a perfect example of an eye-rolling, face-in-palm planting, groaning out loud “why am I still reading this?” YA romance.

    Vaela Sun of the Spire is celebrating her sixteenth birthday. The Spire is a technologically advanced country with heli-planes and magnetic trains but is still ol

    My first hint should have been the fact this is a Harlequin Teen novel. Romance novels make me roll my eyes too much but a YA romance makes me roll them so hard they get stuck to the back of my head. The Continent is a perfect example of an eye-rolling, face-in-palm planting, groaning out loud “why am I still reading this?” YA romance.

    Vaela Sun of the Spire is celebrating her sixteenth birthday. The Spire is a technologically advanced country with heli-planes and magnetic trains but is still old world culture where people use calling cards and address one another by their surname. Women are regarded as fragile creatures and must hide their bare legs from men. A courtship is declared before a couple may date. The Spire is peaceful and perfect and everyone is happy, unlike the citizens of the Continent. Its indigenous tribes have been at war for over two hundred years and the Spire has found this to be a source of entertainment. With a multi-year waiting list, people of the Spire gladly pay big bucks to go on safari and fly their heli-planes over the battlefields to watch the two tribes murder one another. And Vaela’s parents have pulled strings and probably sold their souls to take her on one of these gruesome expeditions.

    Please don’t even think of comparing this to The Hunger Games.

    Obviously this is not the experience Vaela was hoping for as she becomes stranded in the frozen and unfriendly wastelands. It is at this point the book becomes a bit more interesting as the scenes in the Spire were painful and forced. The family Vaela is traveling with could not be more obnoxious. Let me clarify: the mother was unbelievably fussy and whiny, she found the natives “gaudy” and as she sat in her futuristic heli-plane, she complained that she doesn’t believe in technology. There were times I wondered why the woman was even on the damn trip. What made these scenes even worse was the dialogue; clunky and pretentious, I actually read it out loud just to hear how badly it was written.

    Then Vaela meets the natives. Somehow after not seeing another Spirean for almost 300 years, one of the tribes of the Continent is quite fluent in English. Their grasp of the language is amazingly good as they are able to use words like indolent, tactician, and fertility. It was a groan out loud moment when a ten year-old used the word ‘subterfuge’ correctly.

    Of course, the pampered Vaela is initially useless; she can’t cook, hunt, field dress a kill, or even clean her own house. Servants did everything. But, of course, after meeting the spunky and gorgeous Yuki, this changes. No surprise. Also no surprise, Vaela falls madly in love with one of the natives (Harlequin, remember) and must help_____ and has to make a choice between______ and____because these people are_______.

    This is one of those books that, with each page, you find yourself more and more aggravated or dumbfounded but there is no way you’re going to throw it across the room like you really want to. It’s the proverbial train wreck; you can’t look away, you want to see what happens. Some of the more unbelievable moments: Vaela actually argues with the man who saved her from certain rape about her love for cartography: it’s educational and not for battle (that’s where the word tactician came in). Somehow there are oranges in the arctic tundra. The natives speak perfect English. The existence of Mrs. Shaw. I could go on, and from looking on Goodreads I can see The Continent has a lot of fans, so I know I’m in the minority, but it just didn’t click with me. I won’t be continuing this series.

    Addedum: SPOILER ALERT. I left blanks because I didn't want to "ruin" the book for anyone but this is how the sentence reads out: Vaela falls madly in love with one of the natives (Harlequin, remember) and must help them survive and has to make a choice between the whites and the natives because these people are "now her people". The Spirean council even tells her she must forfeit her place in the Spire if she chooses to help those on the Continent.

  • Anna

    [EDIT 3/21/17]

    Since lots of people are still liking this review, I wanted to note that the publisher did push back publication to work out some of these issues. As the author wasn't very receptive of criticism, I don't have high hopes, but it's something that might keep racist descriptions out of the hands of teenagers. Regardless, I probably won't be reading this. There are other writers who actually take criticism without fighting back as well as PoC who manage to not write racist books to sta

    [EDIT 3/21/17]

    Since lots of people are still liking this review, I wanted to note that the publisher did push back publication to work out some of these issues. As the author wasn't very receptive of criticism, I don't have high hopes, but it's something that might keep racist descriptions out of the hands of teenagers. Regardless, I probably won't be reading this. There are other writers who actually take criticism without fighting back as well as PoC who manage to not write racist books to start with. I'll stick with those.

    --------

    This book is super racist and should not be published. People with "red skin" described as drunks and savages? "Almond shaped" eyed characters with Japanese naming conventions? PASS PASS PASS. White Saviorism to the max.

    Just because a book is set in the future or some made up land, doesn't mean you can describe characters in ways that are racist in the real world. Harlequin Teen should not let this into the hands of young readers.

  • Aslee

    It's racist trash, and I'm getting really sick and tired of my genre being fucking corrupted by bullshit like this-- A black groundskeeper, a pack of "savage" men obviously based on First Nations people, and a wise, calm ninja "with almond eyes".

    And, of course, the lily-white MC.

    Look, as a white writer and critic, it is my moral obligation to tell the rest of y'all that this is not acceptable and, in fact, is just bad writing. So, you're being a terrible person and terrible at your job. When pe

    It's racist trash, and I'm getting really sick and tired of my genre being fucking corrupted by bullshit like this-- A black groundskeeper, a pack of "savage" men obviously based on First Nations people, and a wise, calm ninja "with almond eyes".

    And, of course, the lily-white MC.

    Look, as a white writer and critic, it is my moral obligation to tell the rest of y'all that this is not acceptable and, in fact, is just bad writing. So, you're being a terrible person and terrible at your job. When people say they want diversity, this is not what they mean.

    Listen better. Writer better. Be better.

  • Cait Califa

    I received an arc copy of this book on a giveaway so I spent no money and I still want a refund or a brain wipe to erase it from my memory.

    The inside cover has a small scrawl from Kiera Drake saying that she hopes I enjoy my “trip to the continent”.

    Sorry to say, I very much did not enjoy it. I basically spent a couple of hours reading almost every racist stereotype in existence. DEAR GOD, how was this even published?

    There are two warring sides of this book. The Topi, based on Native Americans,

    I received an arc copy of this book on a giveaway so I spent no money and I still want a refund or a brain wipe to erase it from my memory.

    The inside cover has a small scrawl from Kiera Drake saying that she hopes I enjoy my “trip to the continent”.

    Sorry to say, I very much did not enjoy it. I basically spent a couple of hours reading almost every racist stereotype in existence. DEAR GOD, how was this even published?

    There are two warring sides of this book. The Topi, based on Native Americans, and the Aven’ei, based on Japanese people.

    And actual quote from the book:

    “We don’t know much about the Topi, do we? Other than how vulgar and warmongering they are?”

    The Topi have “rich reddish-brown” skin, wear human bones and are described as savages with a “primitive culture”. Brutally killing and drinking themselves silly. They spend the night “dangerously drunk” throwing clods of dirt at each other “like children” before they try to rape the white girl.

    She is saved by a ninja who shows up just in time to slit the native’s throat. The ninja is Aven’ei.

    So now we leave the complete dehumanization of Native Americans to explore the fetishizing of Asian culture.

    The Aven’ei are said to have a rich culture without the modern consciences…which is “Wholly surprising and impressive” to the naive white girl.

    Every time the MC describes these people, she does so by being completely astonished they manage to run to brain cells together. It is so condescending, I couldn’t roll my eyes hard enough.

    She spends a lot of book, telling these angry poc to more compassionate to their enemies when she isn’t spending two-three pages explaining indoor plumbing to the barbarians.

    The only black people in the book are part of the council, they have no sympathy for the warring Topi and Aven’ei, until the white gives a passionate speech about doing the right thing. It tugs at their heartstrings enough for them to show up just in the nick of time, to save the white girl and disappear again.

    Oh! And there is only one woc in the entire book that has speaking lines. She is the only redeemable part of the book. Her name is Yuki and she is killed off, so the white girl can grieve some more.

    The back cover of the arc brags that “The Continent will haunt readers long after its covers have been closed.”

    It’s closest thing to truth about the book, it will haunt you but not in a good way. I felt almost physically ill after reading it.

    I can’t believe something like this was written in 2016. Yet alone, published.

    Seriously do yourself a favor, DO NOT READ THIS. DO NOT SPEND MONEY ON IT.

    Pretend you’ve never heard of it…I wish I could.

  • enqi ✨ (high lady of the night court)

    I'm not going to read this book and I don't think I ever will.

    I'm sick of the white saviour narrative. And the book portrays Native Americans/Asians as savages and perpetuates all the stereotypes surrounding Asians. As an Asian myself, this just makes me unbelievably angry. I genuinely

    the "almond-shaped eyes" description - this is arguably the biggest pitfall for white authors. (I've never seen any Asian or non-white writers use this description. Just a thought.) Rule of thumb:

    u

    I'm not going to read this book and I don't think I ever will.

    I'm sick of the white saviour narrative. And the book portrays Native Americans/Asians as savages and perpetuates all the stereotypes surrounding Asians. As an Asian myself, this just makes me unbelievably angry. I genuinely

    the "almond-shaped eyes" description - this is arguably the biggest pitfall for white authors. (I've never seen any Asian or non-white writers use this description. Just a thought.) Rule of thumb:

    use food-related terms to describe POCs. Plus, not all Asians have almond-shaped eyes. I'm still waiting for ignorant whites to actually realise that??

    Descriptions aside, I've seen that this book purely romanticizes colonization. And I hate it. I risk sounding unbelievably petty here, but when I talk about colonization, I'm talking about years of blood and war, and the centuries that my people fought for to gain independence. Almost all the Asian countries have been colonized at some point by white people. How would you feel if a foreigner came to your land, rich with its unique ethnicity and diversity and culture, and trampled all over it and forced his own culture down your throat? Pillaging and destroying and killing? I cannot count on my fingers the number of Asian countries that the mark of colonization has been left on. Meanwhile, it's a well-known fact that white people have colonized just about everywhere in history. Ya'll know that even America had indigenous tribes before Columbus came along. All your people have done throughout history is destroy and raze.

    To the author, Keira Drake: stop dehumanising our entire culture with your opinions. Asians are well-educated and sophisticated people. We are not

    Our countries are producing countless intelligent young people who are winning international olympiads and competitions. Take those outdated opinions and shove them right up your ass because no one wants to listen to them. I may only be one person, sure, and maybe everyone else disagrees with me and I might even get hate, but I've got the right to call out problematic stereotypes and issues surrounding MY culture. I'm not going to waste my money and time on this book at all. I could be using my money to support diverse/ownvoices authors.

  • Celeste_pewter

    ETA: Review here:

    ***

    Yes, I did read it.

    I read it - after putting it down a month ago, when the first chapter failed to capture my interest - simply so I can provide information for anyone who seems to think that this book shows us how to be ~better~ as humans and isn't a white savior book.

    (Yes, I saw that comment elsewhere.)

    And yes, the book is a mess. Outside of some truly terrible writing - a la

    - I really don't know why and how this sl

    ETA: Review here:

    ***

    Yes, I did read it.

    I read it - after putting it down a month ago, when the first chapter failed to capture my interest - simply so I can provide information for anyone who seems to think that this book shows us how to be ~better~ as humans and isn't a white savior book.

    (Yes, I saw that comment elsewhere.)

    And yes, the book is a mess. Outside of some truly terrible writing - a la

    - I really don't know why and how this slipped through the radar at Harlequin. There's problematic content on almost every page.

    If you want an idea of what this book is like, it's like Disney's

    intermixed with even

    blatant racism and obvious xenophobia.

    I'm going to begrudgingly write a review, because I'm tired of books like this being published, and I want to help provide a resource for people to point to, when they're asked what's problematic about this book.

    Also, because this is apparently an issue: *rolls eyes* I'm not calling the author racist - she seems nice, if in need of a crash course on life - I'm calling the book and its content, problematic as hell. As someone else pointed out, the author was failed badly at every stage of the acquisition and editorial process. Unfortunately, it's now on her.

  • Giselle (Book Nerd Canada)

    EDIT: Harlequin Teen updated their Tumblr with this message. Such great news they're delaying publication to keep the themes correct.

    ----

    After things escalated on Twitter, some screen grabs of how racist this book is, other people's early reviews, I'm sure I don't want to read it anymore.

    Having the slur "savages" in a book is a big FUCK NO. And I'm sorry if I'm swearing, but yes I am a bit angry at the moment. And you can say "ohh but you haven't read it

    EDIT: Harlequin Teen updated their Tumblr with this message. Such great news they're delaying publication to keep the themes correct.

    ----

    After things escalated on Twitter, some screen grabs of how racist this book is, other people's early reviews, I'm sure I don't want to read it anymore.

    Having the slur "savages" in a book is a big FUCK NO. And I'm sorry if I'm swearing, but yes I am a bit angry at the moment. And you can say "ohh but you haven't read it yet. How can you judge it?" Well that's exactly why.. why would I support someone's work when they use these racist remarks in their book? Is it set in a historical time period where that was the norm? Do those terms need to be used?

  • Erika

    Describes indigenous people with red skin as savages who are prone to raping and drinking, as well as other egregious stereotypes.

    See these Twitter threads for more info:

  • Emma Giordano

    UPDATE2 11/8/2016: Harlequin Teen is actually pushing back the release date to revise the book and hopefully extinguish the racial stereotypes!

    Here is their response:

    I do want you all to be advised that a statement saying "we will try to fix this" does not guarantee a change and ESPECIALLY does not erase the damage that has already been done. While we may not see these promoted "changes" until either a new ARC printing or the final book's release, please

    UPDATE2 11/8/2016: Harlequin Teen is actually pushing back the release date to revise the book and hopefully extinguish the racial stereotypes!

    Here is their response:

    I do want you all to be advised that a statement saying "we will try to fix this" does not guarantee a change and ESPECIALLY does not erase the damage that has already been done. While we may not see these promoted "changes" until either a new ARC printing or the final book's release, please *DO NOT* forget about what already has been said and keep the voices below in mind when that new publication date comes around.

    11/7/2016

    Through this whole discussion, I've been silently reading a lot on Twitter, retweeting voices that I feel my followers should hear, but after seeing SO MANY of my the people I've connected with on Goodreads who still have this book as "to read", I wanted to make a short post here as well that will hopefully make some of you at least consider removing this book from your TBR. My intention is not to "police" anyone concerning what they can and cannot read, but help forward some important information that may help YOU reconsider supporting this book.

    The discussion around "The Continent" is one where there are many voices *much* more important than mine, so I have a list of a few reviews, Twitter threads, and posts from those who have a lot of insight on this topic. Many are POC responding to the racism and stereotypes following this upcoming release, and I believe most, if not all, have read the entire book so you don't have to. Please just take the time to educate yourself on this issue before putting your money down or reserving a library copy of something that you may not agree with.

    Also, if you have any other posts/threads you have come across that are equally as important concerning "The Continent", PLEASE link me to them in the comments so I can add them to this list.

    UPDATE1 11/8/2016: I was considering not including this link because the people linked above were not satisfied by this response, but it is not my job to shelter you from information *I* or anyone else finds wrong. As this is a post to encompass different reactions to the controversy around The Continent, I guess it does belong here.

    So here is Keira Drake's response to the racism "allegedly" found in her book:

    (While my aim is not to force my opinion on you, please remember while reading that unintentional racism is still racism, debut authors are not exempt from critique, and basing a HUMAN race full of harmful stereotypes off of a fictional MONSTER race that has a history of racism attached is not okay.)

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