Friday, December 31, 2010

Reading Madhouse by Rob Thurman

If you thought the Dresden files weren't gory enough but you wanted more character development than Simon Green's shorter novels, you may want to check this series out. 
  • More concentrated horror. Yech.
  • More gross and drippy things.  'Nough said.
  • A higher body count.  Yuck.
  • Way more bad language and bad attitude.  Amusing.
  • A more fragile main character.  He may be half-demon, but he gets the crap beaten out of him regularly; his older brother is the real butt-kicker in the family. Also, he has even more family issues than Dresden.  Really.
  • Some interesting but not all that savory side-characters.  Way more R-rated than Dresden.
  • Characters making hard and sad decisions. It's tough watching them get hurt and making poor decisions with consequences they'll have to deal with.
Of course, I find myself comparing these to the Dresden files, and they are found wanting because they are more horror than I really care for and because the world isn't as complex and because the characters aren't as well-developed.  However I'm not really being fair. If I really want to fairly compare this third book to Dresden, I would need to compare it to the third Dresden files book, and I do remember that, though I got a kick out of the first three Dresden books, I wasn't hopelessly hooked until #4 was exponentially better than 1-3 (and #5 was better than that). 

In conclusion, I'm going back to read #1 and 2 in this series, and then maybe I'll make another review of how I feel about it.  If I don't throw up.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Only fifteen?

Brought to you by my friend J who spent over a year with me in RetailPurgatory a lifetime ago.

Name fifteen fictional characters (television, films, plays, books) who’ve influenced you or that will always stick with you. List the first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.

This one's hard for me because I'm an ensemble cast sort of person.  I often like whole casts of characters, and it's hard (sometimes impossible) to choose a favorite. 

It's also hard because there's, like, a couple hundred I have to choose from, and no matter which ones I choose, I will feel inadequate for choosing them, and I will spend days stopping short at random places going, "Darg!  I should have said ____!"  But that's what comments are for.  :)

  • Ender Wiggin from Ender's Game
  • Miles Vorkosigan from Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles books
  • Caz from Curse of Chalion
  • MacGyver
  • Kvothe from Name of the Wind
  • Kel from Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small series
  • Ash Lynx from Banana Fish
  • Harry Dresden from Butcher's Dresden Files series
  • Eugenides from Megan Whalen Turner's books
  • Heero from Gundam Wing
  • Wolfwood from Trigun
  • Folken from Escaflowne
  • Charles Wallace from Madeleine L'Engle's books
  • Joshua from The Arm of the Starfish
  • Vimes from the Pratchett books
  • Otori Takeo from Tales of the Otori
  • Harvey from the Kieli series
Better stop before I get to one hundred . . .

What about you?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jealousy is a sin

And I'm sinning right now.

Anyway, yes, Wise Man's Fear, the second book published by Patrick Rothfuss, may in fact really come out next year.  Happy New Year.  The question is whether I can hold off rereading Name of the Wind until February . . .

Yes, WMF might really be coming in March.  Really.

At first, I wondered why they'd bother with Advanced Reader Copies of this book.  I think it'll sell through the roof regardless of whether anyone gets to read it and create buzz in advance.  In fact, there was some doubt about whether the second one could live up to the first.  I figured they'd never do an ARC just in case it got poor reception.  I take it as a positive sign that they decided to create one because it must mean they're not afraid of the quality suffering.  Or else they know people are curious enough that even if it gets bad critical buzz, a bojillion people will buy it anyway.

Like me.  :)  How about you?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

About melodrama

I've asked the question before about the line between drama and melodrama.  Came across this definition unexpectedly.  It confused me more.

"The 1994 film [Shawshank Redemption], which featured heartwarming prisoners fighting for their humanity, is not only the highest user-ranked movie on IMDB, but is immensely melodramatic.  We have it in us to love these sorts of stories, but to work they must be presented without the neurotic self-consciousness that infects nearly every pop culture product coming out today.  A good melodrama needs to be honest, have heart, and be true to the Human Experience."

I guess that "neurotic self-consciousness" relegates anything without it into the melodrama category?  Hmmm.  I guess I'm just used to the term being applied to Gilbert & Sullivan works like Pirates of Penzance and Patience and others stuff that's just over-the-top ridiculous.  I can't reconcile that with the modern way we seem to say something is melodramatic as if it means, trashy, cast-off, manufactured, overly-emotional, and sub-par (think of criticism you've read about any sports movie based on a true story).  I can't make the two mesh.

Semantics.  Fascinating.  Any opinions?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thinking with Fire

I adored Graceling (along with a lot of other people including critics), but I have to say I was afraid that the next book would be too similar, so I held off buying and reading it.  Unfortunate repetition happens to a lot of YA authors.  In Fire's favor was the fact that it was not a sequel, always a good sign.  Also in its favor was the fact that it took place in the same world as Graceling but in another part of it where the rules were different.  (Echoes of Tamora  Pierce, hooray!)  I found the world fascinating and was all for more exploration of it.

In Fire, the situation the heroine was in was sort of vaguely similar, and it was destined to be a romance from the beginning, so there was a certain amount of predictability there, but there was also a lot of court intrigue and reversals and hard decisions and bad things happening to lots of people and misunderstandings and nuanced characters and other bits to keep one reading and guessing.  I enjoyed Fire

I must admit that, at first, while I was reading it, I wondered if it sold very well.  Lots of people are sort of Method Readers: they have to find something they can identify with in the main character to keep them reading.  I wonder how many teenaged girls struggle with being so effortlessly, ridiculously beautiful that they literally have to fight off men attracted to them.  The answer is probably not many.  So what would make this book appealing and relevant to them?

I actually found my answer in the responses of those around this main character.  Many wanted her dead because she was by her very nature a temptress (even though she didn't consciously use her powers, especially not for evil) who caused strife, and they were afraid of her potential if she chose to be evil.  They were scared of their weakness and her power over them, so they hated her and tried to confine her or even kill her. 

I found myself remembering that in many places in our real, modern world, women are forced to cover themselves completely and hide away because the men around them believe that their existence and visibility leads men to sin.  Of course, the men can't be expected to control themselves; that would be too hard, so let's blame the women.  It's their nature to tempt men to sin simply by existing, right?  The way the story raised and handled these issues was great.  There wasn't any preaching; no one made speeches they wouldn't have made if they really existed, and I still walked away thoughtful.

I like the conclusions Fire comes to by the end of the novel.  I really do.  She wrestles with her demons and her nature, and she comes to a peace with them.  If only other women in captivity to the weak men around them could have such a hard-fought, hard-won happy ending.  If only all teen girls could successfully fight their way to peace with themselves about their bodies and their responsibility to the people around them.  I hope some of them can.  Maybe reading this book will make them think about it. If not, it's still a great read full of adventure and romance and sacrifice and redemption and good and evil and other things that make a story worth hearing.  I'm looking forward to Cashore's next book.  It's coming out . . . soon, I hope.

Are you more of a "Method Reader" or a total omnivore (omnibibliovore)?