- By Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith
- Reviewed by Kit
The following are out of 5
Racial Representation: 5
LGBTQ+ Representation: 5
Disability Representation: 5
Body Size Representation: 5
Gender Representation: 5
Socioeconomic Representation: 0
Mental Health Representation: 5
Religious Representation: 2
Own Voice: No-though one of the authors is a therapist focused on treating PTSD
The stranger Saga is a surprisingly idealistic and often gentle post-apocalyptic story that still has space for magic, threats and adventure as the community of Las Anclas fends of outside invaders and deal with tensions between the mutated Changed and normal humans. The world of the change is incredibly diverse, no one can be bothered to judge anyone by their background as they need to unite to stay alive.
The world of the change series is very racially mixed and various languages and traditional customs have survived where other knowledge hasn’t. among the main heroes Ross Juarez is Native American but doesn’t know this until the end of the first book. Mia Lee is Korean-American and Riley is black, they both get to be both romantic and action-y heroines, free of stereotyping. Yuki Nakamura is from Japan and was stranded in Las Anclas as a child. He‘s accepted into with open arms by the people of and he loves his adopted community while also aiming to reunite with his birth family. Elizabeth Crow, the formidable sheriff who even the snidest antagonists are forced to respect is from the Crow tribe and she takes great pride in her heritage. There are plenty of descriptions of side characters from a range of ethnicities. There are references to religions that have survived and there are mentions of characters praying but it’s not a major part of the plot.
Ross suffers from ptsd as a result of an almost-fatal incident at the beginning of the first book which results in realistic and sympathetically portrayed symptoms like nightmares and a need to emotionally distance himself from others (it helps that one of the authors is a therapist who specifies in ptsd treatment). It lessens greatly after he finally finds a supportive community, but it never vanishes for good. He also sustains permanent nerve damage to the hand in the same incident which causes pain and disability which never goes away and requires treatment, but it never stops him from being heroic. The cast is fairly gender-balanced and there are women at every social position including several in positions of authority.
All kinds of lgbt identities are mainstreamed in the changed world. Yuki and Pacu are openly gay an in a relationship with each other. There is also a secondary lesbian couple, Mia realises that she’s asexual/demisexual and her father reassures her this is perfectly normal and there’s many people like her. Also she and start a polyamorous triad with Ross which is perfectly acceptable in their community and is portrayed in a refreshingly un-lurid way. A minor character is a trans boy. While medical transition isn’t available he lives socially transitioned with no issues.
The post-apocalyptic utilitarian setting means that class isn’t really relevant in the same way as a real life and there isn’t much of a difference in the standards of living between the various residents of Las Anclas. There are a range of physical descriptions among the major characters. While most of the main characters are teenagers its citizens ranging in age from young children to the elderly take an active role in running and protecting their communities(my personal favourite being the formidable Elizabeth crow who is in her fifties). Several sympathetic have “Changes” that alter their physical appearance. in particular Sheriff Crow has a mutation that gives one half of her face a skull-like appearance and rather than being treated as a freak she’s desirable enough that she effortlessly finds two partners for the big climatic dance in the first book.
So to sum up gender roles, arbitrary beauty standards, homophobia and racism are among the many things that haven’t survived the apocalypse.