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CuddleBuggery: November 2011

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CuddleBuggery: November 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Where’s the Sisterhood?

There is a trend in the Paranormal Romance Genre that had become extremely popular, unfortunately.  It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly it started in Paranormal Romance but we can see where it clearly became incredibly popular.

So we meet again...
The trend is in the serialized romance novel that the series focuses on a group of men.  TV Tropes calls them a Badass Crew.  For PNRs I call them a Badass Boy Band, sometimes with a token Action Girl.  They are immortal badasses who fight evil.  Each novel will involve one of these men finding a special lady friend to love for all eternity whilst progressing the overall series plot enough for the next Boy Band Badass to find his own groupie in the next book and so on and so forth.

Each book in the series generally contains most, if not all of the boy band immortals fighting evil together.  What happens to the women we meet in each book?  For the most part, they disappear, only to be occasionally spoken about, arrive for weddings or show up occasionally to use their special talents. 
What happens when Action Girl meets her own stud in her book?  Generally he somehow joins her in immortality and fights alongside the group, becoming another Boy Band Badass.  Look, I know these novels are just for fun, but it is also an aggravating and incredibly unfeminist foundation to have.  It reinforces the concept that Men are strong, Women are pretty.  Sure you have Token Action Girl there but that just reinforces that she’s different or a freak. 

In fact, sometimes Token Action Girl is only Action Girl because circumstance made her that way but if she had her choice, she’d be at home raising babies.  


Another take home message of these series is that men can have a story and a life outside of romance, but for women that is the greatest apex there is and once reached, they no longer matter in the grand scheme of things.  It also displays the reader’s lack of interest in female characters outside the protagonist which is disturbing.  It reinforces the unconscious belief that Men Act, Women Are.

But then, still in the media is a long standing lack of female characters since most writers have been male for such a long time.  Who can even guess what effect that has on our gender psyche anymore?

Allow me to give you a situation and you tell me if you think it would make a best selling romance novel.

Action Girl is having it out with her Badass Crew of other Action Girls.  In the face of Unspeakable Evil, she must battle and rage.  She finds that Unspeakable Evil has a man.  This man is terrified.  Crying, whimpering and weak.  She rescues him but not without difficulty.  He slows her down, trips her up and even though she has an unspeakably sexual appeal to him, because he is after all very pretty, she finds it frustrating that he is stupid, stubborn and sometimes lacks serious logical skills.  But that's okay, it's just how men are.  Stupid, weak and pathetic.  She must care for his every need.  Especially when he passes out, which he does often.  This sometimes includes bathing his unconscious body and putting him to bed tenderly.  

He often rebuffs her advances out of some misbegotten prudity but eventually gives into his own lusts.  Action Girl has the opportunity to teach him about his sexuality and they go up together against Unspeakable Evil.  He gets kidnapped again and through great pain and strife, Action Girl must save him.  It’s true love.  They run off into the sunset together.
Something tells me test audiences would struggle with this gender reversal and writing it this way makes it seem that much more unbelievable.  Action Girls don’t want pansy, useless, whimpering men.  They want men that can compare to their badassery!  Yet Badass Men will be totally happy and in love with the Damsel in Distress.

It’s the idea that women would naturally want a partner at least equal to them but that men would be happy with a woman as long as she has a functioning, albeit shy, vagina.  It does men just as much a disservice as it does women.  That men must know everything, be able to do everything etc because their partner will inevitably useless is just as sad a story to pass onto the male gender.

We could probably give this a trope name by itself.  Call it the Riley Whines Trope.

 Isn’t it time we became just as invested in the life and trials of female protagonists as we do our male protagonists?  This is a genre written by women, for women.  Why is it just as sexist as every other form of media out there?   

Here's a test.  Go through your PNR shelves and name the male characters in each book.  Then try and name the female characters alongside them.  I certainly hope you do better than I do because my results were something along the lines of: Troy and massive tits, Harold and long, silky legs, Scott and the bootylicious ass, etc.   

Why aren’t these female characters more memorable like Mac and Barrons?  Why don’t they stand out as real characters that are just as tangible?
Why don’t PNR Authors call a spade a spade and write the adventures of Sparky and his group of Boy Band Badasses who have to save Sparky’s fleshlight from the bad guy?  It would kind of be more realistic.  Sadly, I can only name two PNR series that revolve around a sisterhood type set up and only one of them is in any way popular.

Isn't it time that we feature more in our own novels?  Isn't it time for a Black Dagger Sisterhood to showcase real female characters, varied feminine personal struggles and female centered romances?  Isn't it time that novels reflect the real world in which women are 51% of the population, instead of the fringe?  Isn't it time our stories are just as valid and readable as a man's struggles?

Come on, Authors!  Where is the sisterhood? 


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Want to meet Finnikin?

So our new kitten came home today and, as tragic as this makes us, his name is Finnikin. 

This was him a couple of weeks ago at his foster mom's house.  And yes, he's sleeping on my lap.  Because he loves me.
Mr. Kennedy and I both think Finnikin is a great character, even if I argued that the name Currans was more applicable for a kitten!  Apparently that was "semantics" and "Finnikin is a cool name" and "make me a sandwhich."

So corny?  Yup.  Silly?  Yup.  But this is our new cat.  And his name is Finnikin.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Review for Ashfall by Mike Mullin

*This ARC was provided to me by the publishers.  No money or gifts were exchanged for this review.

I seem to be one of the very few that found this book a little on the average side.  It really probably wasn’t the book’s fault.  In fact, if you’re looking for some good reviews of this book, try out Phoebe North's review.  

There are several different reasons why people enjoy apocalypse stories.  Some people enjoy watching the break down of society and making commentary on that.  Some people enjoy the struggle for survival.  Me?  I like to read them to compare them to what *I* would do.  The more applicable the situation to me is, the better.  Like zombies, right?  Everyone can associate with a good zombie apocalypse. You’re getting your elbow chewed on, I’m getting my elbow chewed on, we’re all being eaten!  Look!  Something to share!

The problem with more specific disaster scenarios is the risk that part of your audience may not be able to relate to the situation.  That was me.  Don’t get me wrong.  Just because I live in Australia, doesn’t mean I think that we’re going to cruise through a planet-killer like Yellowstone Volcano like we did through the Global Financial Crisis.  Of course everything but the most meagre dregs of humanity are going to be killed when that thing goes off.  But we’re going to have a different kind of struggle to the one the main character has.

He was a reasonable character who started off a little weak and boring for me.  It was approximately page 250 when I had very nearly given up on this book, that he really picked up and I began to enjoy his personal story.  Darla’s character is enjoyable from the get-go and I think it is her inclusion in this book that truly pushes it up onto a well-deserved pedestal.  

The writing is, for the most part, very serviceable.  It is smooth when it needs to be, gritty when it needs to be and achingly painful for other parts. I certainly have no qualms about that!

I suppose, for this book, it was the little things that got to me.  Themes that didn’t translate as well across the Pacific Ocean.  This book deals with themes of government oppression and corporate greed that vaguely felt silly to me.  Though, to be fair, I get why this is an unsettling premise to Americans.  My government has never tried to transmit thoughts into our brain!  Our military still runs on Windows 03!  

Then surprisingly, was the transparent fear-mongering against socialism and how horrible it is to be stripped down and become part of the masses under an oppressive regime.  Socialism, government fear, issues with authority and autonomy aren’t as big a deal here and I think gave a triteness to this novel, for me, that a different audience would find powerful and unsettling.  

Over all it was a fun read, and for a different audience, I think it would serve its purpose very strongly.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Changing the Archtype

Now, to be fair and putting this out there, there is nothing wrong with Archtypes.  Sometimes they're useful to a story.  They're familiar and comforting which helps audiences to ease into the novel knowing what certain characters are like without having to pay too much attention.

The problem comes when the bulk of fiction doesn't break from these predetermined characters.  Cordelia Fine talks about how gender expectations unconsciously affect everyone and how in her phenomenal work, Gender Delusions.

 Because, facts are in about women's representation in the media and it's not a very positive story.  This article by Paul T Harper gives an excellent low down on how women not only feature less in television media, but that the depiction is also backwards and negative.

Stories have a power about them.  Research shows that people remember Emotional Memories which are given a greater resonance by the brain.  If I tell you a beautiful, cautionary tale about looking both ways before crossing the street, it's probably going to be more powerful to your memory than just telling you the straight out statistics.

Even worse is studies showing that reading material affects the way little girls and boys see themselves (which you can read about in Cordelia Fine's fantastic book, Delusions of Gender linked above) which is troubling considering studies find gender bias in children's literature!

So what this means is that every book with a shy, quiet, ordinary girl who likes to read reinforces that that's what you're supposed to be.  Every mean, blonde girl character who is popular and pretty reinforces people's expectations that either popular girls are mean or that if you are popular, you should be mean to other people.  Every time a woman goes hysterical under stress while a man sorts out the problem, creates another illusion that that's what is expected of us.

Yet even worse.  Every wizened male scholar but no wizened female scholars reinforces another message.  Every honourable knight and trampy seductress just gives us another imbalance.  Every white hero and Asian, African, Islander, etc sidekick reinforces another, stupid archtype in our minds.

I understand why writers do it because I've done it too, lots of times.  Your character is running through the landscape, defeating evil etc and suddenly you realize you need a wise old hermit to give advice.  So your character goes to him and everything is cool.

"I've totally got this.  Tell me your problems!"

But stop and ask yourself, why?  Why did your character have to go to him?  Why couldn't your character have gone to her?  Next time you need a good King Richard stand in to help the hero, why not a Queen?  And don't even make an issue that it's a woman.  Don't be like, "He went to the Queen for help.  The King had died many years before and left her in charge, but don't worry, audience!  She's good!  We swear!"

Don't make a deal out of it.  She just is!  And you know what?  She doesn't have to be white, either!  But we don't need to make an issue of that!  We don't need a fifteen minute spiel about how the Africa, lesbian Queen is really a good ruler and that the main character doesn't have a problem with it.  Also, that character doesn't necessarily need to talk funny OR use poor grammar.  I know, shocking right?    Don't write the stereotype just so that you can say you are inclusive.  That isn't what this is about.  It's about changing the way we see the world.  Because you know what?  The bulk of worldly wisdom is not held by celibate white men in loincloths.   Even more shocking, I know!

So, if you're a writer, the next time you're doing a scene and you need a character, just stop and think about changing whose playing the role, not the role itself. You want a heroic character to battle evil, win the day, use their brains and logic to defeat the bad guys and charm their significant other with wit and personality?

Congratulations, the range for what that character would look like is now endless.

Book Review Fracture

Did you ever watch Christian Slater in Heathers?

Other girls my age were watching My Little Pony while I was obsessively borrowing Heathers from the vidoe store (remember those?) I was like six years old and I thought Christian Slater was the shiz. Now it occurs to me, what the fuck were my parents thinking? I feel like this personal tidbit alone explains a lot about me. Where's my therapist's number? I think it's time for another session.

Well, we'll get into why I mentioned Christian Slater, but for now, it's simply because I'm being nostalgic.

Delaney Maxwell falls in ice water and dies. Yet she lives. Marvel at the paradox! But coming back to life has given her some super creepy powers and she has to deal with that whilst resolving long-standing issues with her bestfriend, Decker. All of this is complicated by Troy, who I imagine as looking a lot like Christian Slater did in Heathers.

And it's not because Troy is sexy, charismatic, mysterious and a little bit of a dramatic, emo psychopath.

Okay, maybe a little.

For a debut novel by Miranda, this was pretty good. The writing was decent, most of the characters were complex and well written.

The themes seem to surround how one deals with an impossible situation. Delaney spends a vast majority of the novel trying to cope with her survival and the lingering repercussions as well as her relationship with her mother and Decker.

The novel was mostly gripping, if not confused about what in wanted to achieve. Troy was sufficiently unsettling and yet sympathetic.

Once again, absolutely no reason why I'm bringing him up. But read the novel for yourself and see if you don't get Heather's flashbacks!

Delaney was a bit of fresh air in that she had goals and purpose in her life that exceeds the usual YA standards of wanting to procreate with the love interest. She also had a complex and rich relationship with her parents. Who were, you know, actual parents and did actual parent-like things. Another big breath of fresh air. That's a pretty sad commentary on the state of YA.

I think the novel fails by trying to do too much of many things and not enough of other things.

At first I thought it was too few abs (Christian Slater), but then I realized that maybe it was too much whining (Winona Ryder)

Overall, it was pretty good but not without its flaws. There's potential here, and not just for more pictures of 80's Christian Slater, further proving my truly tragic taste in men as a child, but for real depth of story telling and emotion. I'm just not sure how fully it was achieved here.

Maybe the problem is that it took itself so seriously. Heathers was great because it was full of camp, but I am digressing... or regressing. Maybe both. But the novel had no humour about itself and when your love interest is a hot teenage badboy psychopath - it pays to have some self awareness.

Or Christian Slater.


                                                                 Or not... gosh he's old!

*Also, now other women my age watch a whole bunch of cool movies - my favourite show atm? My Little Pony! That's right, bitches! I'm a brony!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Review for Immortal Rider

I still remember the first time I rode a horse which is synonymous as saying I still remember the time I almost died.  That hellbeast ran riot across a large desert area surrounding a partially active volcano and laughed at my feeble attempts to summon help or stop his rampage.

What this earned for me was a year or two of riding lessons because where I grew up, riding lessons were the thing to do for proper young ladies.  As there is nothing proper about me, you can be sure that I never progressed much past being able to keep my seat and to pick a good horse that would stop when I politely asked it to.  A surprising amount of horse riding comes down to just picking the right horse.  Some horses are always bad because they hate you and secretly long to tear into your entrails despite masquerading as a herbivore.  Other horses are flighty and will have their good or bad moments.  So for the most part, you pick a good horse and stick with it.

Authors tend to be like a horse.  You find a good one and stick with it and they usually won’t fail you. This analogy is especially true for the Paranormal Romance genre where books tend to be serialized.  I’ve tried to ride a series that was flighty with books wavering between good and bad like a toddler on too much sugar.  It’s a frustrating experience.

If I had to pick my favourite horse though, Larrisa Ione would be it.  I don’t know how she would feel to being referred to as a horse, but there it is.  I’ve generally found her work to be consistently readable.

Immortal Rider is the story of a Horseman of the Apocalypse and a human man falling in love and dealing with her lying and evil brothers and the fact that she had him dragged into hell for kissing her.  Completely normal stuff that I’m sure we can all relate to.

I have some issues with female representation in her novels and particularly this one. However, over all, I do enjoy her storytelling and her characters.

Her novels also tend to have the appropriate amount of cheesy goodness in them without overdoing it or crossing into the realm of dumbassery.  Something that’s surprisingly easy to do in this genre.
I think, if I’d read the first novel, I would have enjoyed this more as opposed to playing catch up and trying to familiarize myself with a world that seems to take it for granted that you already know most of the characters.

Ione’s novels are, at least in my opinion, better than the usual fare and they have a great deal of imagination and interesting world building in them.  So if you’ve lost your seat in this genre and are looking for a good horse, maybe give Ione a chance.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

What does it take to inspire someone to read a book?

Is it enough to give a heartfelt plea to the book's worthiness?

Maybe a meme? Or jazzhands? Will jazzhands convince you?

Turtle meme doing jazzhands.  Your mind is blown.
I know, a meme about jazzhands! Admit it! This is pretty damn irresistible!

Okay, well, if you're one of those strange people who would choose a convincing, well-informed review over a meme of a tiny turtle doing jazzhands then...

More jazzhands
Are you sure I can't convince you with jazzhands? Maybe throw in a shuffle for you?

Seraphina is half dragon, and not because her father struggles with the basic nuances of the English language.

I said slay, not lay!
Well, maybe a little bit...

In this epic fantasy by debut author, Rachel Hartman, Seraphina is an abomination who must hide her true self from everyone lest she and her father are killed for heresy. Dragons have the ability to fold themselves into human bodies and have maintained a strenuous peace with the human kingdoms. Seraphina's life is put into jeopardy when court intrigue and mystery implicates that the treaty between dragons and humans is in danger.

Hartman's novel is almost flawlessly executed. The novel, whilst long, is easily readable. Hartman doesn't rush her narrative, but neither does it seem to drag or falter.

Aside from a few brief flashback sessions, the story is carried entirely by Seraphina who may be half human and half dragon, but she is all brilliant. She is the equivalent of some kind of bear/dragon hybrid. Like, a bear/dragon hybrid that can breath fire. Yeah, that level of coolness.

Bear/dragon hybrid breathing fire
Well, what do you know? They have a meme for that!

Often in novels, the female MC will profess to be extremely smart but, much to my chagrin, behave agonizingly stupidly and prove to have the mental faculties of a gnat. Seraphina is the total opposite of TSTL. She is brilliant, charming, ballsy and brave. All the while, she is also tactile, honest and fully-developed. Actually, I can not think of a single character in this book that I could argue as being two-dimensional or aggravating.

In fact, I absolutely loved the portrayal of strong female characters in this book. It was done with such grace and humanity that I found myself respecting most of the women in this book. Glisselda and the Queen were fantastic characters whom I absolutely adored.

Kiggs, as the love interest, was believable, endearing and wonderful. His character, so eccentric, so insightful and honourable, completely won me over. His relationship with Seraphina was genuine, subtle and romantic. The best thing? He wasn't any over-developed Romanticized Alpha Male! Thank goodness! He rocked it without needing to bully, oppress or corner Seraphina in any way!

The pacing is excellent for a lengthy novel. I gobbled it up and only at the very end did I feel any desire to speed things up. It is also beautifully well-written. The imagery alone was breath-takingly beautiful. The prose were polished and elegant. It was a pleasure to read. This novel was so full of emotion, beauty and poetry that I was honestly startled because I expected none of it.

I must confess that I am an acquaintance of Hartman here on GoodReads. I had grown a healthy respect for her opinions and expression, so I entered into reading Seraphina with a certain amount of skepticism and trepidation. I wonder if Hartman felt a similar trepidation when she saw that I had applied for her ARC and decided to read it! Because, let's face it, I'm not exactly known to be the most generous of reviewers. That's probably actually an understatement.

If you think that my opinion of this book has been swayed by my association with the author, then feel free to make your own mind up about it. I'm sure more reviews will be popping up soon.

But, to be honest, I didn't know what to expect when starting this novel. I've read work by friends before and had to put them aside, with embarrassment. This time is different. When Seraphina is released, I will buy this novel and treasure it. I will probably read it again and again when I need a laugh, or a romantic story or something to relax to. In fact, I loved this novel so much that I want to recommend it to everyone. I want to go get everyone I know and make them read it. This is the kind of novel that deserves to be published, that deserves to be successful. We need more of this out there. Not another trashy teen YA. This is the good shit. Right here.

So, my question is, what will it take to inspire you to read this book?

This ARC was provided to me by Random House publishers. No money or favours were exchanged.*

Audio Review


Wildwood Dancing by Juilet Marillier

The problem with this book is that it's not real.

Juliet Marillier is my arch-nemesis and main rival. We've been competing against each other for the coveted title of #1 most followed Australian for awhile now. The battle has been vicious. The competition fierce.

Okay, maybe she's not as "aware" of this competition as I am... so what if it appears that she's almost never even ON Goodreads and by all accounts may actually have forgotten that she has a GoodReads? It still counts as a competition, right?

But since I've beaten her three weeks in a row, I feel confident that I can once again read her books.

This was a mistake. My jealousy only makes me hate her more. Because this book was fantastic, fantabulous, fantasmagorical.

Recipe for a Juliet Marillier book:

3 parts brilliant written prose
2 parts whimsical fancy
1 awesome female protagonist
1 can of whoop-arse

Available from all major grocery chains and retail outlets

I doubt anybody does magical faery realms and myth retellings with the style, flair and gothic majesty of Juliet Marillier.

I strongly recommend this book to anybody with an inner child and a desire to have their mind blown.

audio review


Let The Right One in by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Imagine for a moment that you were at an event, like the 1995 Rugby World cup where South Africa both hosted and won. Imagine being there in the heat of that moment - the cheer and ebulation. That light, almost unreal sense that the world has faded away and there is only that moment. Nothing else is important and you want to quietly capture the complete bliss you are experiencing and put it in a bottle somewhere. Hopefully at some future date you can take it out and rekindle those emotions and bask in that one, perfect moment again.

Then imagine that you are standing outside of a train station. A train has just crashed in front of you. Pleople are screaming, and the stench of smoking meat is tickling your nose as your eyes sting and water. There's that same feeling. That feeling of, "Is this really happening?" Light. Dizzy. Disbelief. Overwhelming to the point of nausea. You can't forget that moment. It will haunt you. Every time you catch a wiff of smoke those memories will come flooding back, whether you want them to or not.

Same feelings, at their most basic level, but entirely different in their mode. In the first situation you jump and holler. You'll hug those around you, even if you don't know them, and celebrate together. Knitted into temporary friendship because you're experiencing the same, awesome event. For weeks later you'll tell anybody who listens that you were there. You'll tell them about how incredible it was and try to impart on them some semblance of what you felt.

Cut back to the second scenario where you'll stand quietly in solidarity with those around you. Once again, knitted together. Brothers and sisters formed from tragedy. You may hold each other and gather around silently. When other people ask you about it, you'll get that look in your eyes that tells them you've seen things.

You're just as altered as the first scene, but where there was ebulation then, there is horror now.

This is what happens when I read certain books. Books like Stolen fit in the first category. They touch me and move me, so I run around telling everyone that I read it. It was amazing. Share in this experience with me. I want to help you feel what I felt.

Then there are books like this. Now I quietly tell you that I read it. That it touched me. Changed me. I look you in the eye and I don't want to elaborate. I quitely turn away and think a little bit more on what I've seen and read, and how it made me feel.

And maybe if you've read this book too, you might be able to understand why there's really nothing more for me to say.

audio review


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Power of Waif-Fu!

Trac Changes recently wrote an excellent blogpost on the Dead Cover Girl trend that is the big thing in YA right now.  There was a discussion on the feminine virtues of passivity taken to its final conclusion of death.  Pretty, pretty death.

 There was a discussion about how this is nothing new in literature.  Even Heathcliff found Catherine more beautiful in death, as did Nelly.  However, there's the opposite of this trend, albeit one just as frustrating to the feministly inclined (that's right, I've just turned feminist into an adjective.  Deal with it.)  At first glance it doesn't appear to be a troublesome trend.  After all, how could she be?  She is the Buffy Insert!  That kickass, street prowling, leather-clad vixen!  She's dressed, scantily, to kill and even though she's a 90 pound girl, she still kicks arse.

J.F. Sargent spoke about it to an extent on a Cracked article and TV Tropes calls it Waif Fu.

Not only do we constantly see her on the cover of a whole range of Urban Fantasy novels but she is showing up in YA and Paranormal Romance as well.

Even covers that don't require this kind of image still have it.  Take Mind Games by Carolyn Crane for example.  Arguably one of the best Urban Fantasy novels I have ever read.  Yet its cover pigeon holes it as a Waif Fu, typical to the genre, kick ass heroine.  That simply isn't who Justine is!  She only touches a knife once, very briefly.  She's not some street-stalking vigilante!

Our options for female role models would appear to be either beautiful and passive young women posing around doing nothing in a pretty dress, or a beautiful ass-kicker who looks like she should be a supermodel.  Who also, may I add, is not doing anything.  The only difference?  The Passive teenager is usually in a forest or garden, wearing a ball gown and looking away from the camera.  The Urban Fantasy fighter is usually over looking a city, she has a knife, is dressed in leather/tank tops and she's either looking straight at you seductively... or her ass is.

Either way they're objects.  If you fight over-powered monsters for a living then there's nothing wrong with struggling to rock a frock when you're off duty.  Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the message is no longer all about being passive and a giant pansy.  I'm glad there are some sexually aggressive, powerful female role models out there.  I get that these covers are designed to appeal to the senses and to intrigue us.

But do audiences like Marcus Phoenix any less for looking like one of his parents was a pitbull?
This man splits rocks with his face and Does. Not. Wear. A. Dress.

And you know, I always like Michelle Rodriguez a hundred times more than whatever pretty little girl they have standing next to her.  They had to pull out the Jovovich in Resident Evil just so audiences wouldn't boo when Rodriquez dies instead of her!

And I don't care who you are, Vasquez has a Trope named after her because she was that awesome.  It's like the media has decided that the world can't handle women that aren't waxed and polished to perfection, but you know what, I think they can.  Because the nerds love Vasquez and so did the general audiences.  I think it's time we step out from the usual and look into gritty characters - not just as a side character ear-marked to die, I'm talking about a main character.

Clearly if she'd worn more make up, she would have survived.

But at the end of the day for now, the result is the same.  And it's a sad result.  If you are a woman, whatever you do, whoever you are, you'd better be pretty.  Because these covers add to the multitude of media that tells us that nobody wants an ugly girl.  Even if she can kick arse and save the day.  If she's not sexy then she might as well be dead.