Kelly’s review of Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1) > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

haha... i was JUST wondering why this book keeps showing up on "currently reading" shelves considering that the negative reviews showing up on my feed have outweighed the positive by one hundred percent.

but i wish you the best with it! maybe you can tip the scales in the other direction.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Mmmmm, gossip.


message 3: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Mmmmm, gossip.

A dish best served piping hot with a delicious side of the booknerd breed of 'WTF'!

maybe you can tip the scales in the other direction.

So far... well, in the immortal words of Cher: "It's a full on Monet! From afar it's okay, but up close it's just a big ol' mess!"


message 4: by Kelly (new)

Kelly "Clueless reference! I really think that's what this book needed."

Oh, this book just wishes it could be as self-aware as Clueless! Unfortunately, the delusions, they get slightly in the way.


message 5: by Kelly (new)

Kelly You mean the book? It never really gets together in my opinion.


message 6: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Wow! This is such a complete Review! I did like the ridiculous Sassy Gay Friend bit but all your reactions ring true.


message 7: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Yes, the clothes!


message 8: by Kelly (last edited Jun 14, 2010 11:46AM) (new)

Kelly I did think she had a couple of good ideas

I will admit I liked some of the fun with steampunk technology and the way that the supernatural societies functioned within the larger whole (parts of it anyway).

but, honey, Journey, really? Ouch, my ears.

My love for Journey snuck in bit by bit at far too many drunken 2 am moments in college, and now my brain seems to respond by muscle memory or something and there's nothing I can do about it! I admit my terrible taste! But I will just say this: is there any better pop music than Journey for a power ballad? I do not think so. I will stand on that!

SGF is definitely like the Beau, only 10x exaggerated. And radiating happy vibes, not evil ones. Certainly would not be shocking to find out this lady has read more than her share of Georgette Heyer novels.


message 9: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Oh, and Bun, you do right to stay away! I think one probably gets more honesty out of Austen slash fic than this book.


message 10: by Kelly (last edited Jun 14, 2010 12:58PM) (new)

Kelly I think she actually took more from Heyer than Austen.

I'd buy that. When I say there's Austen in here, I mostly mean the Austen that Hollywood gives us rather than the actual Austen. There's definitely some too many viewings of Colin Firth as Darcy in there with Lord Maccon.

Biffy the gay-stereotype hairdresser. That had me spitting, too.

Oh, and we must not forget how he turned out to be a perfect wedding planner as well, with his Special Gay Powers of impeccable taste in all areas of fashion and style! Argh.


message 11: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Keliher I couldn't even get through it.


message 12: by Elijah (last edited Jun 15, 2010 12:44AM) (new)

Elijah Kinch Spector Oh my, just read all this. Wow.

Elizabeth, if it helps, the "gay men are awesome and can do your hair, etc." thing is just as harming to gay men, apparently. I have heard many a gay man complain about being treated as a simple accessory that every girl must have--expected to be a nonthreatening man to have on one's arm who says sassy things, picks clothes, and never actually gets laid himself. So, you know, like so many stereotypes, it's damaging to both sides. Hooray!

So, Kelly, the gay stereotype is bad enough, but I have to ask about the content of the racism. Is it like, George-Lucas-likes-old-serials-so-much-that-he-peoples-his-films-with-stereotypes racist, or is it more of a hooray-for-colonialism-and-to-hell-with-savages sort of racist, or what?


message 13: by Kelly (last edited Jun 15, 2010 04:53AM) (new)

Kelly I have to ask about the content of the racism. Is it like, George-Lucas-likes-old-serials-so-much-that-he-peoples-his-films-with-stereotypes racist, or is it more of a hooray-for-colonialism-and-to-hell-with-savages sort of racist, or what?

Hmmmm. It's more of the former than the latter, I think. To be fair, the only POC in the book is Alexia herself (which is of course it's own issue)... sort of. The racism present in the book is tied up in her sexuality. We're told that she's docked social points for being Italian, and attractiveness points for having "olive" skin. It makes her more Special and Unique. My problem comes in that the author clumsily tries to engage with something you find all over romance novels- namely that English people consider people of Italian or French blood passionate, and that they somehow like sex, are more knowledgeable about it, and are more instinctually sexy than other people. She tries to be satirical in blaming Alexia's out of control behavior on her Italian blood- I think. Trying to give her the benefit of the doubt here- but she keeps using the word "exotic," to describe why she actually is attractive- the guy she ends up with says that, 'oh people who don't think she's pretty just don't understand how exotically attractive she is'. Over and over, her Western European Non-English blood is fetishized as making her more sexually exciting- she even gets all her sexual knowledge from her Italian father's books- he was fascinated by studies of "primitive peoples" (yes, that's the word choice) and apparently those studies include drawings of naked people and sex. She seems to set out to make fun of it, but since she writes in styles of a time that believed in essentializing people, it sort of comes out wrong and doesn't work. I do think she meant to vindicate her poor Cinderella by saying that there are different kinds of beauty, but her reasoning and presentation was just kind of uncomfortable. Again, an area where the mixed voice was a problem.

Re, the gay stereotype: I met a couple of those girls in college, one of whom said to someone I know who is gay: "Hey, I don't have a gay yet! Do you want to be my gay?" *cue jaw on floor* Unbelievable, but those girls do exist. I should again try to be fair to Carriger here in saying that she does at lest make the main Sassy Gay Friend more than one dimensional, and there's a very sweet scene between him and Alexia at the end. But it's clear that Carriger largely likes writing these gay men due to their stereotypical gay qualities, and that that's largely why her main character interacts with them, and it's pretty bad.


message 14: by Moira (new)

Moira Russell Elijah wrote: "Elizabeth, if it helps, the "gay men are awesome and can do your hair, etc." thing is just as harming to gay men, apparently. I have heard many a gay man complain about being treated as a simple accessory that every girl must have--expected to be a nonthreatening man to have on one's arm who says sassy things, picks clothes, and never actually gets laid himself. So, you know, like so many stereotypes, it's damaging to both sides. Hooray!"

Oh yes, what is it called, Will-and-Grace syndrome? Because for ages the gay guy on that show apparently NEVER got laid.


message 15: by Moira (new)

Moira Russell Kelly wrote: "one of whom said to someone I know who is gay: "Hey, I don't have a gay yet! Do you want to be my gay?" *cue jaw on floor* "

OY.

(This reminds me of how Oscar Wilde is supposed to have picked out all of his wife's outfits, when actually according to a memoir by his son she had rather good taste and made her clothes herself.)


message 16: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Is that true? I wasn't aware... it's really more of the treating a gay man as a possession part of it that got to me, even beyond the assuming certain qualities about a person who is gay. Ah well, awful either way!


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Man, the Italian thing was seriously troubling. I entirely agree that there was some stabs at parody there, but ultimately Carriger believed it: Italians do it better. It's like the soulless thing: this could be pretty cool if it turns out to be a social construct, like I'm hoping, but I'm almost convinced I'm wrong in my little theory.


message 18: by Elijah (new)

Elijah Kinch Spector "Saucy Italians..." wow... that's just silly. Did the book make fun of those drunken Irish next? I mean, I get what she may have been trying to do, and as someone who writes a lot of period pieces I understand the pitfall of having your characters think a certain way and being unsure how to contradict it in the greater narrative, but yeesh.

(P.S. I totally didn't get involved in this conversation because I had been intending to read this book. Nosirree, whyever would a manly man like myself have had any intention to read an urban fantasy with so much pink on the cover? That's just silly.)

Regarding the gay men/straight women thing, it really is like white people who need that one black friend, and he's always expected to dance at their parties, isn't it? My, my...


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

I think the Sassy Gay Friend is a mainstay of women's fiction - he's gay so he won't be the Baxter.


message 20: by Elijah (new)

Elijah Kinch Spector And because it's impossible for a woman so perfect to have straight male friends who aren't falling all over her?


message 21: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 15, 2010 09:32AM) (new)

Elijah wrote: "And because it's impossible for a woman so perfect to have straight male friends who aren't falling all over her?"

Absolutely. I think it's pretty well established that men and women can't be friends too, right? I mean, I know in my own life I have to deal with furtive glances at my hour-glass figure* from, like, every guy I know. Excuse me while I go cut on my girlfriends so they pose no threat to my Total Romance Domination.



*J/k, totally. My best asset is really my legs. Or so my SGF tells me, I have no awareness of my own desirability.


message 22: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 23, 2011 08:57PM) (new)

Elizabeth wrote: "Well, Ceridwen, that pretend-I'm-not-gay waiter did keep coming over to talk to you; I think you have no true idea of your appeal to men. I think it was the way you smiled politely at whatever he s..."

He's not gay! He's totally had girlfriends that I've never met!

You're right. I'm a Special Snowflake. I bake too!

P.S. Elizabeth, your hat is terrible. :)


message 23: by Kelly (last edited Jun 15, 2010 10:06AM) (new)

Kelly Damn, I knew I should have gone with peacock feathers instead of red ribbons.

I dunno, Elizabeth, maybe you should check that your SGF isn't an SSF just out to make you make bad fashion decisions so other men don't look at you! That red ribbons thing is suspicious!

And because it's impossible for a woman so perfect to have straight male friends who aren't falling all over her?

Uh, there's even one point in the book where the hero is jealous of her spending time with her SGF, and it's implied that it's because he thinks he's into her- tho SGF is an old vampire, and it seems the most well established gay person in the city, and the hero is the head of the supernatural bureau in London, so for him not to be aware of the guy being into guys (esp with his posse of beautiful men he keeps around) seems pretty weird.


message 24: by Wealhtheow (new)

Wealhtheow "there's even one point in the book where the hero is jealous of her spending time with her SGF"
That struck me as weird, too--like the author needed to have a scene where the hero is knee-jerk jealous but doesn't know why, but didn't really have a place for it. So she stuck it in where it didn't make any sense, because otherwise she'd have to do without a classic Romance moment.

Seriously, my main problem with this book (which I did enjoy) is that the world-bulding just doesn't hang together. I'm willing to forgive a great deal of silliness if the author has thought about how her society works, or how her characters truly think, and it doesn't seem like much thought was put into this.


message 25: by Kelly (new)

Kelly it doesn't seem like much thought was put into this.

I do think she seems to have put some thought into the science of what makes people supernatural, but definitely was not thought all the way through or enough. The book is definitely about people saying witty things in the style of authors we like in settings that are cool. Which is fine to a degree, but yeah, it does need to hang together.


message 26: by Moira (new)

Moira Russell Ceridwen wrote: "P.S. Elizabeth, your hat is terrible. :) "

//falls out laughing


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

I still thought it was fun. And I think SitC is Sex in the City.


message 28: by astried (new)

astried I think the ugly hat thing came from Mary Balogh's Dudley series where the heroes' sister has an unfortunate taste for clashing bonnet and dress. But this sister has an interesting and fun character as well instead of this mannequin with strange hats.


message 29: by Maria (new)

Maria Schneider Wow, interesting discussion! Sorry I found it late, but I'll babble anyway.

I just finished the book and while it's not a bad book, I had some of the same issues listed here. I didn't mind all the mixing of the genres, but did notice the "Stereotypes" and so on. The concepts of this book "Soulless" and how it works with/against supernaturals--kudos for that idea. I liked it and some of the underlying plot. The romance...ugh. Ye old, 'We're about to be run over by the train, but can't keep our hands (or minds) off each other" has never worked for me. There's lust and then there's blatant stupidity...

Couple of us on an Amazon thread were discussing; I too thought that scene at the end with the sunset might have been the best in the book. Finally brought round some real personality to a character that should have had much, much more from the beginning.

P.S. SPOILER:

Since when do vamps need to breathe? (Chloroform scene) And if they do breathe and then get bleed out...that would imply that they needed to circulate blood and if they don't have any blood left...wouldn't that be the same as being staked??? Because now the guy is still breathing, but why? He's got no blood and the whole purpose of breathing is to circulate oxygen in the blood...

Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the book for what it was, but with all the imagination applied, it could have been a step or two up.

Nitpick I know. But it bugged me.


message 30: by mark (last edited Jun 23, 2011 08:53PM) (new)

mark monday did not expect to read such an insightful review OF SOULLESS, of all things. excellent!


message 31: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Well, I probably wouldn't have written it if a group of us hadn't been reading this together (because apparently we were masochistic), I'll be honest. :) But glad you enjoyed!


message 32: by Manny (new)

Manny Ah, so that's what it's about! Thank you.


message 33: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Have you had this one on your list? I am surprised!


message 34: by Manny (new)

Manny Kelly wrote: "Have you had this one on your list? I am surprised!"

No! But I'd seen so many references that I'd become curious...


message 35: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Ah, I see. Well, now you don't have to waste any more brainpower on a book that doesn't really deserve it. :)


message 36: by David (new)

David Sann stop watching glee then. your review had nothing to do with the book at all. it was just a rant on glee


message 37: by Kelly (last edited Dec 21, 2012 06:03AM) (new)

Kelly Thanks for the helpful, constructive comment on a two year old review. I really appreciate the insightful criticism about how I think through my perspective on books. I'm definitely going to go back and change it now.


...Man, I haven't had a troll in awhile. I was starting to feel a little neglected. Thanks, internet, I feel better now.


message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

It is because he doesn't watch Glee.


message 39: by karen (new)

karen i'm pretty sure glee deserves to be ranted on, though, right?? because of all the singing??


message 40: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I was just going to go with the.. er.. sub-par to say the least.. acting and the attempts to pretend that the show still has a consistent plot or characters. I'd like it more if they just turned it into a musical revue. I sign off on a full hour of terrible mash-ups with funny dances! As long as we're not pretending it's anything else!


message 41: by Elijah (new)

Elijah Kinch Spector "Man, I haven't had a troll in awhile. I was starting to feel a little neglected."

Just like old times.


message 42: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Ah the days of yore when trolls were ogres and we commented uphill in the snow both ways! Trolls these days just cannot compare.


message 43: by Elijah (new)

Elijah Kinch Spector I know! He didn't even intimate that you're a stupid girl; time was, every other day someone would comment on one of your reviews and be condescendingly misogynistic about it.

What is happening to us, Internet?


message 44: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I know! Not even one comment that I think too much about the book or that I don't have the right to criticize books because I am not an author! Standards are clearly slipping in trolldom.


message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

...or insinuating that you're stupid and you missed some vital piece of the story, and you should read it again.


message 46: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Not for all the tea in China! (to put it in an appropriately dated and nonsensical way appropriate to this book.)


message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

Split an infinitive; that's how I'll know you're really an Victorian.


message 48: by Karli (new)

Karli Jo Although I will give some slack to the overuse of the word "alacrity," I very much enjoyed the rich vocabulary that was used by this author as well as the entertainment value of the plot. We're there times that everything didn't quite add up? Sure! I still liked it though!
In addition, I found that the series as a whole did the opposite of stereotype. Just like with anything... Sometimes the stereotype fits ... That is the reason for the stereotype in the first place!
If being publicly gay was okay in the Victorian Era, the dandy would have most likely been a preferred lifestyle for many of the homosexual population. Having said that, there are other, less flashy gays and lesbians in the series. Also, many of these characters are major roles, it would be impossible to stereotype upwards of ten characters through five books.


message 49: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Say wrote: "I read 2 of these books, and have enjoyed them enough to start the third... I LOATHE "GLEE" I really wish you didn't make that comparison since, even after reading why you felt that a just argument, I don't see what the similarity is. I can understand if you don't like the book, but perhaps just stick with the issues you had with the book, and not with some Television show that has nothing to do with the book. "

Yeah, Kelly, how dare you compare a book some internet stranger likes to a show she doesn't like?! Where's your sensitivity?


message 50: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I am a horrible, undiscerning person with a small IQ who can't tell the difference between a book and a tv show. I can't believe I am able to even write this coherent sentence, really. Someone must be typing for me right now.


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