Tag: Rise

Carolina reviews The Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee – The Lesbrary

Susan reviews The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia

The Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee

“What you do when no one is guiding you determines who you are.”

It seems that Avatar: the Last Airbender is the show on everyone’s minds after its addition to the Netflix lineup; this renaissance of Avatar fan culture has sparked countless memes, TikTok dances, and the announcement of a new live action adaptation of the original series. Personally, I was a huge fan of the show as a kid, and was grateful for the reintroduction to Aang’s world. The Avatar universe has recently expanded beyond the realm of the original Nickelodeon TV show, spawning the sequel TV show The Legend of Korra, the comic series that picks up after the last season of The Last Airbender, and the regrettable live action movie adaptation directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The Rise of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee, with the creator of Avatar Michael Dante DiMartino’s input, is the newest addition to the franchise’s lore. The Rise of Kyoshi brings us back to the origins of the no-nonsense, 7-foot-tall, bi-icon, (wo)man with the fan, Avatar Kyoshi.

After the sudden death of Avatar Kuruk, the Four Nations are left without the unifying presence of the Avatar, leaving behind a wake of shadowy coups, criminal alliances, and a powerful clan made up of Kuruk’s closest friends, led by power-hungry Earthbender Jianzhu. Jianzhu becomes desperate after scouring the Earth Kingdom in search of the new Avatar, and forgoes the ancient rituals to confirm the identity of the Avatar, after coming across a powerful Earthbending child, Yun. In the present day, after being abandoned by her bandit parents, Kyoshi works as a servant for the new Avatar-in-training, Yun, who is also her closest friend. After being invited by Yun to accompany him to a rendezvous with the Southern Water Tribe, Kyoshi notices something is amiss about Yun, Jianzhu, and her own past. After a stark betrayal from those closest to her, Kyoshi is left on the lam with her Firebender friend (and secret crush) Rangi, as they run straight into the hands of a rising criminal underbelly at the heart of the Earth Kingdom. Kyoshi hones her bending skills and contemplates the meaning of revenge with her new gang-turned-found-family as she comes into her own as the new Avatar.

The Rise of Kyoshi is a perfect first step beyond limitations of the original children’s show, as it fleshes out world-building, raises the stakes with political intrigue and war, and its cast of morally grey characters that make the reader question the motives of each person involved. This young adult novel deals with heavier topics including equity versus equality, morality versus ethicality, and the meaning of a found family.

Although you don’t necessarily need to have seen the original TV show to understand the novel, it definitely does help to understand various cameos and references. There are some great easter eggs hidden throughout the plot, including a fun appearance from the cabbage merchant. Part of The Rise of Kyoshi’s worldbuilding is subverting expectations about each of the four nations; the Fire Nation becomes the voice of reason while the people of the Southern Water Tribe are ruthless and cunning, reminding us of the real danger of stereotyping, and that injustice can be found in even the most seemingly peaceful of places.

Something I loved about the book was its fast-paced fight scenes, reminiscent of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows. It was great seeing Kyoshi’s ruthless bending tactics, and seeing another side to the Avatar’s role as peacekeeper between the bending nations. On the other hand, the political intrigue scenes from Jianzhu’s perspective dragged the book’s plot, especially towards the end of the book, leaving the final act to fall flat. However, Kyoshi’s character arc brings the novel’s pace back up to speed and avoids the novel being bogged down.

The Rise of Kyoshi is the first in a new series by F.C. Yee, and the author has already promised further development of Kyoshi and Rangi’s budding romance. In this novel, Rangi is the person who keeps Kyoshi human, keeping her from sliding off the deep end, while Kyoshi’s rebelliousness inspires Rangi to shed off her mother’s strict tutelage. Rangi and Kyoshi’s relationship, bound by the words “where you go, I go,” is one of the highlights of the book, and I felt that their story was so sweet and full of fluff.

If you fell in love with the world of Avatar through The Last Airbender, and want to see yourself represented beyond Korra and Asami’s brief handhold, then pick up The Rise of Kyoshi. Kyoshi is unapologetic about who and what she is, accepting her new position as the Avatar with grace, refusing to hide her bisexuality or her poor upbringing. To quote Kyoshi herself, “if this was what being true to herself felt like, she could never go back.” For Avatar fans old and new, F.C. Yee’s The Rise of Kyoshi provides a celebration of identity at the heart of a fantastically familiar world.

Trigger Warnings: Character Death, Gaslighting, Violence, Gore

Queer Black Love in Literature, The Rise of the Queer Novella, and Censoring LGBTQ+ Kids’ Books – The Lesbrary

Queer Black Love in Literature, The Rise of the Queer

This has been a Pride like no other. Our usual celebrations were cancelled for COVID-19, and police brutality protests take us right back to where Pride began. LGBTQ people have Black trans people to thank for the LGBTQ rights movement, for Pride, and for so much that we take for granted, which is why it’s even more important for us to stand by them now. Police continue to target Black people of all genders, Black trans people continue to face so much violence, and the fight for rights is far from over. Black Lives Matter protests continue (even if they’re not getting as much news coverage), and there are many ways to support the movement. Check out the Black Lives Matter carrd for continually updated petitions to sign, places to donate, and ways to educate yourself. For white and white-passing people, I highly recommend reading Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad. It guides you through digging into your own internal racism and the work to be done, and it’s really opened my eyes to how far I have to go, and how much anti-racism education is a lifelong process.

The world of LGBTQ books and publishing has began to reckon with its own racism, with Black Lives Matter protests bringing more attention to the inequalities that Black authors have been raising the alarm about for years. Check out the Lesbrary’s recent article Let’s Talk About Racism in Lesbian Publishing for a brief overview of the most recent iteration of the conversation.

Breaking Jaie by S. Renée Bess  You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson  Pink Slip by Katrina Jackson  The Days of Good Looks by Cheryl Clarke  Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells  Escaping Exodus by Nicky Drayden  Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron  Bestiary by K-Ming Chang  Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

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Black. Queer. Southern. Women.: An Oral History by E. Patrick Johnson   We Are Everywhere by Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown  How We Get Free edited by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor   Butch by Kanithea Powell  Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera  Odd One Out by Nic Stone   Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia & Anna-Marie McLemore   Kings Queens and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju   Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh

Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud  The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco  Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender cover   This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone  Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

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