4.20.2012

The Player's Ultimatum by Koko Brown

After including Koko Brown's The Player's Ultimatum in the #13th instalment of the Blasian lit thread, Koko Brown graciously sent the BN a copy of her ebook. I've read one or two books by Koko Brown and thought they were okay, one in particular I've read and reread so I was really excited before reading The Player's Ultimatum. Not to mention, the book got so many good reviews on Amazon too, I had high hopes prior to reading the book.

However, sadly, I didn't enjoy The Player's Ultimatum as much as I thought I would and found that I had to struggle to finish reading the book.


 I thought the setting was excellent, I enjoyed that most of the book takes place in Italy. This is a pleasant departure from the usual USAmerican setting and as I've been to Italy before it was so easy to picture the setting in my head as I read. In addition, when it comes down to it the sex scenes were on point. Editing problems in The Player's Ultimatum were minimal.

However I felt the characters were poorly developed, I couldn't feel any of the characters and they confused me. Especially the heroine, Yvonne Floyd, she was supposed to be smart but did a whole lot of stupid irrational things. I understand that smart people do make stupid mistakes once in a while but Yvonne wasn't acting like an intelligent Black woman at all. There were also some inconsistencies, the main one for me would be Yvonne and Paolo Saito meeting at a masked ball. In that scene, Yvonne had sex with Paolo thinking that she was having a one night stand with a stranger. Incidentally at the same time, she was just discovering her feelings for Paolo. Let's put aside my discomfort with Paolo seducing her while hiding his identity, I don't understand how Yvonne did not realise the dude she was fucking was Paolo. Like how? If he could kiss her then he wasn't wearing a mask that covered his face fully, so how could she not recognise him...and his voice too even though he was speaking in another language. And and, why would an intelligent person not even spot the similiarities between this "stranger" and the person she's supposed to be falling for? Either way, I don't think reading modern day romance fiction should require the suspension of belief.

I also wasn't feeling Robbie Gutierrez's character, why is it that all the gay best friends in hetero romance books seem more like butlers or personal servants than friends? Picking out clothes, working on her hair, cooking and all of that. While reading The Player's Ultimatum, I wandered across this excellent post and couldn't help noting similarities between how queer characters are portrayed in film and in fiction. Perhaps because of the time it took me to read through The Player's Ultimatum, I kept on coming across interesting articles that were related to the book. For example this one on why the FA loves gay footballers. I didn't know there were no open gay footballers in Europe.

On top of all this, I didn't feel that we got an adequate glimpse of Paolo Saito's Japanese-Brazilian heritage. I liked that there were places in the book where he speaks Portuguese (I only know this thanks to Google). Yet, while reading The Player's Ultimatum, I also came across this article on Japanese Brazilians returning to Japan. That article gave me more of an insight into Japanese Brazilians than The Player's Ultimatum, I felt this shouldn't have been the case especially since Paolo did talk about his childhood in Brazil.

This may not be a unique issue, I've noticed a lot of Western authors don't really focus on cultures in romance fiction, and that when they do they tend to fall into the trap of exotification or Orientalism. I admit I truly enjoy catching glimpses of other cultures while reading books even though it may not be a deal-breaker for me. Paolo seemed more Brazilian than Japanese-Brazilian to me. While I'm yet to meet a Japanese-Brazilian, I do know Brazilians who are of Chinese and Dutch-Lebanese-Indigenous Brazilian heritage, though they all speak Brazilian Portuguese I've noticed how their heritages affect their identities (whether it is making frequent trips back to Taiwan or learning how to speak Arabic).

To conclude, I personally did not enjoy The Player's Ultimatum as much as I thought I would however others may enjoy it.

2 comments:

  1. "why is it that all the gay best friends in hetero romance books seem more like butlers or personal servants than friends? Picking out clothes, working on her hair, cooking and all of that. While reading The Player's Ultimatum, I wandered across this excellent post and couldn't help noting similarities between how queer characters are portrayed in film and in fiction. Perhaps because of the time it took me to read through The Player's Ultimatum, I kept on coming across interesting articles that were related to the book."

    Thanks for taking that bullet for me. I appreciate you.

    ReplyDelete

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