(reblogged from Patty Jansen )
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Cline lost me with this sequel. His "Then" and "Now" storytelling from Ex-Heroes continues but it's too many POV, with ultimately irrelevant characters, and not keeping the focus on the actual superheroes and the new characters who continue to matter (I know, some of the chapters told from other characters' POVs feature those characters) is just disjointing. The book was about 75 pages longer than it needed to be and the tension with the ongoing villian sort of erupted out of nowhere without a plausible explanation, given the book's setup-- and then the whole setup kind of dissolved.
There are two more books in the series but I think I will skip them. The will-they-won't-they between St. George & Stealth is getting annoying, and the intermittent & unresolved pan-in, dissolve focus on Danielle/Cerberus' PTSD annoys me, because I'd like to see that paid real attention.
Despite theoretically strong female characters, Cline doesn't do as much with them as I'd like as just awesome women. Danielle fades into the background when she's not in the armor and becomes a career-focused drone. Bee is obsessed with sex with St. George, Stealth is obsessed with people not knowing who she is and on both playing up her sexuality/strength and avoiding St. George's schmooopy/romantic/intellectual attractions. Meh. Feminist fail, Peter Cline.
Downloaded from Google Play shop, on Nook HD+.
When the most well-drawn & sympathetic character in the book is the magical talking dog & the secondmost interesting character is the villainous magical monster who's cursed the "hero's" family for generations, you've got a characterization problem, big time.
Traditional magical fantasy tale, misunderstandings & excess pride & hubris between very different magical races, illness & healing as romantic plot devices, unbelievable turnaround by the male "hero" as he sees the title Thief with No Shadow in a new light, and too busy & rushed an ending. The magical monsters were of far more interest, the arrogant hero didn't get nearly as much comeuppance as he should have, and he got to be too much the hero through his own revelations of everyone else's romantic messes. The self-hating heroine isn't given enough backstory and we don't know enough why the interesting magical mutt knows she's a good egg when everyone, even she, thinks she's rotten. Fails the Bechdel test since all the female characters must relate back to the male "hero" in some way and have their storylines resolved by his redemption.
Outright repeated icky use of the past fact and/or future threat of rape of a woman as a plot device even if the author did turn that trope on its head in the present.
Bleh, to infinity & beyond.
From Google Play shop, read in epub, on Nook HD+.
I downloaded The Coldest Girl in Coldtown from the Google Play shop on kind of a whim, and polished it off in a day in a half on my Nook-- I had just finished another urban fantasy book and wanted something vampire-ish but not totally trash. Since this was Hugo-Nominated, I gave it a try.
This book is Dark-- it's a vampire dystopia, where the disease of vampirism is rampant, and the Infected must be confined in Coldtown-- to turn to vampires, to die, or sweat out the disease, but in any event, to never return to human life outside any Coldtown's walls.
I loved the book in the way that painful, truthful, uncomfortable stories about damaged people reacting to painful things can be loved. Suffice it to say I winced a lot and occasionally was a little nauseous on the characters' behalves; I wanted to kick our heroine's ex-boyfriend and fellow adventurer Aidan in the head a few times for being such a jackass a few times, and generally wanted to set the world on fire for Gavriel, our hero/villian/vampire/monster in chief, not to mention our heroine, Tana, who prior to the events of a vampire attack at a party she'd been at with Aidan, had already not been having the best of all possible lives, though she'd done what she could to put a shine on it for her little sister. Fuzzy end of the lollipop doesn't begin to describe it.
This is an adult book (as I see it, given all of the killings & gore, despite the lack of sex and the author's history writing YA) written with teenage characters and adult characters, all of whom are wonderfully flawed and not fully conscious of the reasons for all their actions. You could take a meta view and say "so and so reacted because of PTSD" or "this character wasn't really a monster, he was just misunderstood" and look at the book as an analysis of youth and aging, of arrested development despite the passage of time-- or you could look at it as an action/adventure roadtrip story, that happens to have teenagers & ancient vampires and some seriously deluded bloggers and other dumb kids who veer into the story at one point or another.
There are lots of layers to be peeled away-- I pretty much couldn't put it down, because the story was awful, in the old-fashioned sense of the word, moments of the grotesque interspersed with beautiful prose, reflections on what it meant to be human (or not) and what it means to be able to choose, for better or ill, and how that shapes us. The only "bad" part about the story, such as it is, is how the author chose to deal with Tana's reactions to Aiden, but I could understand her choices and I think my criticisms are more feminist quibbles than what was wrong for the character or any character in those particular shoes.
The world of the book feels very real-- very gritty & seedy & cold, like dirty ice on your skin. It's a book to reread, and make you ponder-- aren't we all entitled to love, even the monsters?