kitchendinah: (reading)
[personal profile] kitchendinah

Actually, let's get to those reviews now.

1.) Warm Bodies - Isaac Marion (zombies, fantasy)
2.) The Rook - Daniel O'Malley (supernatural)
3.) Soulless (Parasol Protectorate v.1) - Gail Carriger (steampunk supernatural romance)
4.) Changeless (Parasol Protectorate v.2) - Gail Carriger (steampunk supernatural romance)
5.) Blameless (Parasol Protectorate v.3) - Gail Carriger (steampunk supernatural romance)
6.) Heartless (Parasol Protectorate v.4) - Gail Carriger (steampunk supernatural romance)
7.) The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern (fantasy)

1.) Warm Bodies - Isaac Marion (zombies, fantasy)

I'll be the first person to admit that while I get an unholy amount of glee throwing out the line "It's like Twilight, but with zombies!" at unsuspecting people, it's not quite true. The world has ended, and the remaining humans are bunkered up in Superdomes of civilization. R is a zombie, and a fairly verbose one. After nomming down the brain of a unfortunate youth, he suddenly finds himself with a strong protective instinct toward his victim's erstwhile human girlfriend. It's a romance of sorts, but more, it's the story of how R deals with his growing consciousness and what happens after. It's a weird little story, and definitely a divergence from the usual zombie fare in that the zombies still seem to have a sort of awareness of who they are and were, and have a society, albeit a deeply screwed up one. It's much closer to Generation Dead (meh-filled YA) than Feed or World War Z (both excellent) in that regard. I think purists who just want non-verbal head-busting zombie fun may not be happy with this one, but if you're willing to try something different, I'd recommend downloading a sample from one ofthe major ebook retailers and giving it a whirl. You might like it. I think I do.

2.) The Rook - Daniel O'Malley (supernatural)

Aie. I am just SO unhappy with this one, because I'd heard such good reviews. Let's get my most burning complaint out of the way first. It's not even necessarily the most egregious offense, but it's the one that bothered me the most. If you're going to write about a culture that is not your own, for the love of God, please, at the very least, get your slang and pop culture references right. The book centers around an amnesiac British operative who is trying to root out the corrupt elements of a venerable covert agency of superpowered humans in Britain. We never leave England. I'm not sure the lead has never left England. Certainly not for any extended period. I just don't think she's going to get all excited about a bottle of Johnny Walker. There are a few glaring glitches like that that just serve to throw the reader out of the story whenever they pop up, and worse, the dialogue doesn't seem to have the right cadence, word choices or even correct spellings most of the time. (I thought for a while there that maybe the lack of 'u's in 'colour' and suchlike was the result of the publisher doing a Harry Potter-style sanitation for idiot American audiences, but it's looking like it was how the author wrote it (Australian who spent most of his formative years in America.) And I don't know, maybe it's just me, but having the lead refer to women as 'chicks' (when she herself is a 'chick' and a fairly conservative one at that) just feels wrong. Admittedly, I'll use 'chickie' on occasion, but it's usually ironically and never in a professional environment.)

Beyond that the book had several flaws in terms of plotting, (both too much and not enough,) tone (weirdly goofy in places when at other times it was trying to be deadly serious,) and characterization. It has some good ideas. I like the way they set up the organization, I thought most of the characters' constructions were fairly interesting - I particularly liked Gestalt - but. Without giving the plot away, there's the way the author told the story and the way I would have preferred to see it play out and the two clearly don't match up. I think he squandered a lot of potential, particularly with the stuff that turned up in the closing chapters that could have been better utilized either sooner or in a later volume. This could have been such a good book if it had been done differently. And if the editor had gotten a good Britpick.

3.) Soulless (Parasol Protectorate v.1) - Gail Carriger (steampunk supernatural romance)
4.) Changeless (Parasol Protectorate v.2) - Gail Carriger (steampunk supernatural romance)
5.) Blameless (Parasol Protectorate v.3) - Gail Carriger (steampunk supernatural romance)
6.) Heartless (Parasol Protectorate v.4) - Gail Carriger (steampunk supernatural romance)

Yeah, you know me. Can't resist ripping through all of a series at once. So lo- once upon a Victorian England, you have a society that has welcomed the presence of werewolves, vampires and ghosts into its bosom. While these groups have their own distinct traditions and subcultures, they generally rub along fairly well together. It's generally accepted wisdom that those who make the transition from human to one of these of entities (and the attempt to do so is considered to be a totally valid life choice, bee tee dubs,) are possessed of an excess of soul. Alexia, the outspoken, bluestocking daughter of a respectable family is something uncommon. While technically human, she is also soulless, which gives her the ability to exorcise ghosts and revert vampires and werewolves temporarily to their original human state with a touch. This does not make her very popular with most of the supernatural crowd, but a certain werewolf Lord finds her unconventional behavior very attractive, etc. etc. I'm sure you can see where the bulk of this is headed.

I rather liked the first book in the series, but each following book has yielded steadily diminishing returns. Alexia becomes more unsympathetic as the series progresses, her husband gets dumber, key pieces of background are withheld too long (and I honestly can't tell if it's by design or because the author hasn't figured out how they fit yet - just tell us about Alexia's father already, damn it,) in book four one of my favorite characters is summarily shunted off into a path that I am unsure she can be satisfactorily retrieved from (and frankly I'm unhappy with how the plotline that got her there was handled,) and after the first book I'm far more interested in the supporting characters than the leads, which is always a bad sign. The first book is fine and I won't yell at you if you pay for it, but if you need to read the rest, use the local library. I am still undecided as to whether or not I'll read the next one when it comes out.

7.) The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern (fantasy)

Go read this one, it's absolutely charming. Victorian England once again, but this time we're dealing with dueling illusionists who wage their contest through a mysterious traveling circus. Romance, adventure, clever set pieces, and lush language are just a few of its attractions. The one thing I'd warn about is that the timeline jumps around a bit -- you'll have a scene set in 1886, then jump to 1902 for the next, and then back to 1896 for the following one, and I would occasionally scramble the '86 and '96 ones in particular, but they're clearly marked at the chapter starts, and you may not be as ditzy as I am when it comes to following along. I really, really liked this one, and it's already definitely in contention for year end my 'best of' list.
Coming up: A bunch of GNs I've been threatening to read for the last little while, a couple of YA - including the new John Green (which I understand is going to make me want to take a long walk off a short pier in a good way,) and something that a good friend is convinced is just redressed fanfic - and at some point we're going to restart Connie Willis' All Clear and actually finish it this time. I'm still not sure what happened there.
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Sarah

February 2012

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