So as it is #Diverseathon this week, I have come up with a few posts to explore diversity in the books I have read this year (all of these books have been read during 2016) and honestly, when it comes to reading fantasy with main characters that are considered People of colour (POC), I am utterly shocked at how few there have been.
I’ve always told myself that I read diversely.
I was wrong.
I mean, I have loads of books on my TBR shelf that are from POC points of view, but my read shelf is sparse.
However, the books that I have read which are from a POC point of view, have been some of the best books I have read this year. When considering these five books, they were books where I knew, from either character description or setting of the book, that the main character was a person of colour. There are many more books on my shelves that don’t give or designate their main characters either a nationality or skin tone; although inside my head I see them in one way, other readers view them differently, therefore that’s diverse interpretation and not diverse literature.
I have three stand alones in this list, two of which have upcoming sequels which I definitely plan on purchasing (or requesting for Christmas that is) this year, and then I also have one series. I’ll start with the series.
Chronicles of Ixia // Maria V Snyder
Okay, there are three separate trilogies within this series; starting with the Study Series which is the most widely known. However, the nationality and skin tone of the main character Yelana is not discussed in the first trilogy. However, in the second trilogy; Glass Trilogy the main character Opal is described as being a POC, and a pretty wicked one at that. She is an important character throughout the first trilogy so I still highly recommend reading those first (it also helps because the main plot continues on into this trilogy).
This is a YA fantasy series, following one main character per trilogy; Opal is a one of a kind mage and can instil her magic into glass. This is an excellent series for getting back into fantasy, I found myself reading more and fantasy after reading this series. I love that not only the main character is a POC but also that a lot of the supporting characters are as well. You are introduced into a wide array of cultures, there are plots of handling culture clashes (especially during the first trilogy).
There are currently 8 of the 9 books published, with the final book yet to be released. I have to catch up with the last 3 books of the series and although they are not on the TBR for this week, this is one of my series aims for the year!
Please, if you are looking for more YA fantasy centred around POC and women of colour, this is a series for you. You can pick this up from Amazon.
Truthwitch // Susan Dennard
Firstly, I have a full review of this glorious book already up on my blog; you can check it out here (don’t worry, it will open in a new window so you can read at your leisure!) so you can get all my spoiler free feels and opinions of this book.
This book follows two main characters; one is white and the other is a woman of colour. Safiya is a truthwitch, which means she can basically determine whether a person is lying or being candid. However, you also get the perspective of Iseult who is a woman of colour, best friends with Safiya and is an unknown kind of witch. We do know that she can see threads that link people together, but it is also clear that her potential is yet to be unlocked.
The first instalment of the series was awesome and I stayed up almost all night to get it read, the second book [name] will be released  and I honestly cannot wait to get back into this world. Although the blurb of the first book leans more towards Safiya’s storyline, the two girls do get separated and you get almost 50/50 split between the two storylines.
Please guys, you need to read this book if you haven’t already! Pick it up from Amazon for the sequel is released!
A Thousand Nights // E.K. Johnston
Okay, this feels like a 100,1 night retelling but really the only thing in common is that there is a ruler who kills his wife every night and that it is set in an Arabian-esque country. I think this is a beautiful YA fantasy based on Middle-Eastern Cultures as it captures elements of the cultures so beautifully that I then went and searched for more Middle-Eastern set novels.
So, the main character is a young woman who volunteers to become the rulers next wife because she doesn’t want him to take her sister. Here I would normally discuss the main character using their first name, however the only person named in this entire book is the ruler, everyone else is referred to as their relation, their occupation, or the gender. Now the main character doesn’t die like everyone else, that would make for a really short book. Instead, she discovers a magic in the world and the only real fantastical elements come at the very end of the book.
I do have a full review of this book up on my blog!
You can pick this amazing read up from Amazon, while you are there you can also look out for the companion Novel Splintered. I don’t know much about the companion novel, but it is already on my radar because I did feel that this was lacking something. If not more world building around the magic involved.
The Elites // Natasha Ngan
Okay guys, we have finally found a dystopian! Yey! This is based in a world where there is only one city left and in that city if you are a national Chinese Citizen you are at the bottom of the caste system and are considered to be slaves and are labelled as a ‘Red’. However, this follows the story of Silver, a Red who has managed to train and pass the entry into the Elites; the over-hyped guards of the city.
However, her life became hard work being one of the only Reds in the Elite training, being ridiculed, separated from her family and belittled at every opportunity. But when Silver’s parents disappear, she is forced to break all the rules she has been forced to live by and discovers that this city is hiding way more secrets than it’s hate for Chinese Citizens.
I found this quite a difficult read, and I found it difficult to consider placing this in a POC category; and not because I questioned whether Chinese classed as a POC but rather because for the majority of the book, Silver was pretending, forcing herself to split from her nationality and mould herself into a different culture. There wasn’t much mention of her culture or her family before they disappear.
However, I did find this a pretty fast paced and pretty interesting read. I would recommend you checking it out!