Friday, March 25, 2011

Fantasy Friday (1)

This book is labeled under "urban fantasy" but I think it should be more of a paranormal romance than anything else. I began reading this book as a part of 2011 Urban Fantasy challenge, but to me this book really made promises it didn't quite deliver, both structurally and creatively.
Structurally, this honestly seems like the first draft of a novel, and as I was reading I couldn't believe that whoever approved this for publication overlooked the structural problems of the plot. On one hand, I do think its brave for an author to just plunge the reader into a new fantasy world with no explanation of how the rules of the fantasy world work, but on the other hand a little more explanation and a little more world building would have helped. I'm a seasoned veteran at urban fantasy worlds, but what if this had been my first UF novel? I would have been even more lost. Also, the writing left me confused with its abruptness. Several times during the novel, I found myself having to re-read passages because a character slipped into the room so fast, or spoke a line of dialogue that seemed so far out of what was happening, or just completely random, that it just threw me off. Just a small example: when Abby is held captive by he evil Maurice. I wanted to know more about that special paint/paintbrush, and how exactly did he "drown" her in the bathtub. The passage is described that he just flips her into the tub to drown. But he's an old dude, did he carry here there? Details like that irk me. The whole Brystion betrayal of Abby and oops-guess-what-I-was-in-it-all-along-'cause-I'm-an-incubus flew by so fast because the whole first part of the novel deals with the author building a relationship between the two characters and establishing trust and "no regrets". Flew right by and Abby had almost no time, which means the reader had barely any time, to process that whole mess.
Creatively, these characters have SO much potential that wasn't used. Melanie, who can make Doors, has her soul trapped in a violin. Of course she plays the violin through the whole story, and you don't find out her soul is trapped in there till towards the end, so you haven't been built up to care about it. A girl named Charlie who can talk to ghosts. You don't find that out till the last 1/4 of the book either. Same thing: it just get thrown at you like an added detail, so you don't really care. Moira doesn't make an appearance til the last few pages, and she's what the whole book is about: finding her. So when she is foudn a recovered I find that I could care less baout her pregnancy. Brandon the werewolf and his teen-dream squeeeze could have been interesting if we got to see them more. And what about this world of Portsmyth? I wanted to know more about it too.Is just this one little corner of the world enchanted, and if so, how? Why? And how did her ipod get enchanted, exactly? (There's a kinda-sorta explanation, but I wanted to know more.) I knew about Robert the Rhymer and True Thomas beforehand, and its excellent that the writer tries to use that as some of the basis of the world, but all you really get are a few scattered quotes. At first the author wants you to figure out what the riddle of the poetry means, then just blurts it in the middle of the Judgement Hall. To me, it felt like the author didn't trust the reader to figure it out. And stopping a fight between an angel and an incubus was supposed to be this huge demonstration of humanity. Left me cold.  
And I couldn't fall in love with Abby either. I always want to cheer my heroine on, and I couldn't. Even her name was ordinary to me. Someone on another review site described her as snarky, but to me, snarky means sarcasm with a touch of humor. Abby is just plain sarcastic, sometimes just downright mean. Sarcasm is often used by writers to show the character's sense of intelligence and their powers of observation. Abby just ends up seeming like kind of a bitch. Yeah, sometimes you need to be a bitch to fight demons and other nasty stuff, but the heroine should have some redeeming qualities. She should make you want her to defeat the bad guys and save the day. A little sarcasm is great, but not for a whole entire novel. 
I was actually glad that Brystion and Abby didn't end up together, I like that the fact that not all romances have happy endings. But this time, I wasn't liking the fact this romance didn't work out because that's the way the world is sometimes, and I appreciate the realism. I liked the fact it didn't work out because I didn't really care if Abby was happy or not. 
The only character I could really love was the horny miniature unicorn, Phineas, who brought me laughter and made me wish I had my own miniature unicorn living in my underwear drawer. But all in all, this novel disappointed and even irritated me at times, and I doubt I'll be reading any of the rest of the series.

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