I don't subscribe to many "isms" as politics tends to bore the crap out of me, but gender roles are guaranteed to get me ranty in my panties if I feel this gender or that is getting short shrift.
I believe that authors and publishers have a duty of care to their readers. I don't dismiss books as mere stories. Books, and to a lesser extent songs and films and magazines, have the ability to portray real people and real life. Books approximate real life and real emotion closer than any other medium, in my opinion. I know, what a bizarre statement coming from someone who reads speculative fiction non-stop. Ursula le Guin said something witty about science fiction being able to tell truths about our own lives. That's really what the best dystopian fiction is: the truth about ourselves and what we could become.
The problem I have with Kaylee and Nash's relationship is that if you take away the fantasy element (that is, them being bean sidhes) they're a just a couple with a power imbalance. Kaylee is controlled by Nash, and she not only enjoys it, she encourages it. We've hardly got an Ike and Tina Turner situation on our hands, but I hope you see why this makes me uncomfortable.
At the risk of sounding like a Wowser* or an advocate of censorship, I don't believe that this sort of relationship should be presented in literature in this day and age as healthy and something to aspire to. This book is written and out there and people are reading it now, and by all means do read it yourself. It's a good book, apart from the gripes I've stated above and in my review.
Because books have the wonderful ability to represent real life, it worries me no end that a reader will look at Kaylee and Nash and think, "That's just like me and Ted. Awesome, our relationship is healthy as can be." (I know I was highly influenced by the books I read as a teenager. Nuclear war will make me psychic so I can talk to cats, right?)
I'll stress this point again: it's because the relationship is portrayed as healthy and something to aspire to that I get nervous. And cranky. And dismayed.
I'm being hard on My Soul to Take which is unfair in some respects. But I'm like one of those jaded criminal court judges who've seen it all before and one day decides to take her dismay out on the next poor schmuck who appears in her dock.
You tell me: Am I being unreasonable? Or do you feel the same way as I do?
Princesses and Pornstars, Emily Macquire. This is a fantastic book for young women that discusses feminism today from a very personal and readable perspective, and bemoans the lack of positive role models for young women today. The princess and pornstar in the title is a nod to that old Madonna/whore dichotomy.
Graceling, Kristen Cashore. Did someone say positive role model? Hello Katsa!
Anything by Tamora Pierce. Her books are absolutely stuffed full of positive role models, healthy, realistic approaches to relationships and sex and are bloody fun as well.
*"One whose sense of morality drives them to deprive others of their sinful pleasures, especially liquor." From Wikipedia. It's an Australian term.