Book Review: The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente

Valente does it again in The Refrigerator Monologues by creating a funny, horrifying, and memorable criticism on how women are portrayed in comics.

Following six women who were either superheroes themselves, the girlfriends of superheroes, or who crossed paths with them in some way in their lives The Refrigerator Monologues gives each woman a voice to explain their life and how they ended up in Dead Town, because here’s the thing with women in comics: they almost always die, even the ones who are heroes. Instead of keeping them dead Valente gives these characters life (even while dead) and voices reminding readers that they were more than the heroes they were associated with.

While all the women in this book belong to a fictional superhero world, it’s easy to see where Valente got her inspiration for these women. Gwen Stacey can be found in Paige Embry who starts off this book of monologues while Harley Quinn shows up in Pretty Polly. Julia Ash is our Jean Grey and Samantha Dane is the woman who started this trope, Alexandra Dewitt. Valente creates an amazing parody of the superhero genre by creating her superhero world as a Marvel or DC universe on steroids, but the point still hits home.

I loved the differences in each of the stories despite their similar endings (which can’t be blamed, with a book focusing on dead women in comics you know how these women’s stories end) and I loved how Valente asks her reader’s to really focus on the women in the stories we read and to make them present. Female characters shouldn’t have to die to make a story interesting.

A must-read for fans of comic books who want women to finally have their voices heard.

Publication: June 6th 2017
Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press
Pages: 160 pages
Source: Bookmobile
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Short Stories, Feminism, Sci Fi
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤
Summary:

The lives of six female superheroes and the girlfriends of superheroes. A ferocious riff on women in superhero comics.
A series of linked stories from the points of view of the wives and girlfriends of superheroes, female heroes, and anyone who’s ever been “refrigerated”: comic book women who are killed, raped, brainwashed, driven mad, disabled, or had their powers taken so that a male superhero’s storyline will progress.

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