If I had read this as a thirteen year old I still wouldn't have...more**spoiler alert** What did I just read?
Why did my curiosity override my common sense?
If I had read this as a thirteen year old I still wouldn't have found the plot acceptable. Not only did most of the Elena parts leave me with Dumbo's refrain "you can fly, you can fly, YOU CAN FLY~~" trilling through my head I'm just left wondering... why? I don't even understand why this series took the direction it took. As I've said before, Dark Reunion was pretty bizarre but at age thirteen I was able to (somewhat) suspend my disbelief.
Not so now.
It's like LJ Smith read some manga/watched some anime (and possibly j-horror), reread her books and thought, "hmm, I'd like to see Elena and the gang face off with some psuedo-anime villains." Not even the good kind though. It's like she took the potential weirdness-capacity that anime villains tend to boast and then just left it at that: face value without any depth or rounding character. Petty, pathetic, trite and underdeveloped. The plot was all over the place, completely flailing and flopping about like some sort of schizophrenic rainbow-wing loving... I don't even know what. Words fail me in the face of just how awful this book was.
Stefan is absolutely self-righteously prissy, hypersensitive and boring (well, I always thought he was, even when I read the original 4 books back when I was thirteen) but I was surprised by how boring Elena has become now that she's some weird angel-human-carebear-thing---speaking of, how can she truly be classified as human when she keeps delving into the weird angelic-tropes? Elena, you may think you're Sailor Moon, but you're not. You're really not. Damon was also sadly disappointing... I don't really understand Smith's need for redemption of everyone and everything. It's not necessary and it just makes me thinking of Dorothy and friends skipping along singing "follow the yellow brick road".
I think I'm liking the punchlines at the end of the stories. I may not like the journey that takes me there (wading through Digga's dialogue was a tri...moreI think I'm liking the punchlines at the end of the stories. I may not like the journey that takes me there (wading through Digga's dialogue was a trial in itself, though oddly as a character, I admit I liked him) but sometimes I find I'm sitting there thinking about how predictable the storyline is when at the eleventh hour the author dangles the carrot in front of my nose with a little nugget of "wait, wait, what's this? Follow me into the next book to find out".
Basically Daniel of the Enclave has my curiosity by its kitty-whiskers. I realize this makes no sense but I am tired. Guess I'll keep reading, though I'm not too invested in the characters as a whole. I'm more intrigued by the set up and the society, the clans and its rivalries. (less)
**spoiler alert** What fun! It was nice to see days in the life of Dresden without the 3-front-attack that he seems to face in the Dresden Files. But...more**spoiler alert** What fun! It was nice to see days in the life of Dresden without the 3-front-attack that he seems to face in the Dresden Files. But here I go, story by story (and beware! There be spoilers ahead!):
Restoration of Faith: I love the introduction (to each other, I mean) of Karrin Murphy and Harry Dresden. It's also easy to see that this really is his first plunge into the series. Also as I mentioned while reading this--very weird to consider that technically the little girl would be in her early to mid-twenties depending on just how many years there are between this and Storm Front. I sort of wonder if she'll show up in the Dresden Files main story line now that this side-stories collection has been published?
Vignette: Very short piece but who can say no to more banter between Bob and Harry? It's always fun.
Something Borrowed: What's interesting about the stories from this point forward is the back story information we get on the side characters. Sometimes the information is mentioned in passing within the series (I do recall myself wondering, "when did we cover this?" and "aww you're glossing over this?" a few times) Here we get to see the wedding of the two Alphas that was mentioned in passing in Proven Guilty. Naturally I was happy that Murphy got a part in this one.
It's My Birthday Too: I love all things Thomas really and this is no exception. Good fun too, I couldn't stop laughing though when they go into what Thomas is up to at the mall after closing... Also I think it's cute the brothers have holiday birthdays.
Heorot: Here we finally get more back story on the mysterious Ms Gard. I can't remember exactly which book they broke the news (rather nonchalantly at that, but then it is Harry Dresden so who's surprised?) but it was nice to see the revelation as it unfolded. I was a little surprised and amused that Harry wasn't quicker on the draw when it came to realizing just what it was that they were hunting (the name gave it away!). You never had to read that in school??
Day Off: While I liked the tale, it's not one of my favorites from this collection. Poor guy can't really catch a break.
Backup: THOMAS PERSPECTIVE. I was so pleased. Apparently Mike Mignola illustrates a version of this somewhere. I love getting a better look into the White Court and also the struggle Thomas faces with his literal inner Demon. It's just too much fun. And great seeing him interact with character's outside of Harry. Also him noting the changes in Justine (who has certainly grown on me as the books have progressed)
The Warrior: Here's the story where we get to see Michael in the aftermath of his injury in Small Favor. According to Butcher in his blurb before the story, he said a lot of his readers were mad/upset that Michael was taken out of action (I suppose they thought that the fight was his life) but I'm sure Michael rather sees it as a blessing (which is basically what the story shows you). He gets to be with his family 100% and while he was utterly amazing and absolutely enjoyable as a Knight of the Cross, I'm pleased he got his "Happy(ish) Ending". Though I still hope to see more of him as I do enjoy him as a character, even if it is only to rebuild/repair/salvage the Apartment Building. (I also enjoyed him losing his temper in this!)
Last Call: Poor McAnally. I can't help but think of hitting up the tavern in video games though, whenever Dresden goes there. The villain is sort of amusing in that "ohh yeah, they were like that weren't they?" way.
Love Hurts: Bittersweet and lovely. I really liked it. Again, probably because Murphy was in it.
Aftermath: This takes place after Changes and certainly is a great way to whet my appetite for the next one (alas that I must wait until next year for it!) I loved everything about it--that it was from Karrin's perspective, her interactions with the other characters (especially with Marcone and Gard) and also it makes me wonder if my guess may be right for the upcoming book. Only time will tell! (less)
**spoiler alert** Originally was going to give it a lower star rating due to the annoying return of the one character I cannot stand in this series bu...more**spoiler alert** Originally was going to give it a lower star rating due to the annoying return of the one character I cannot stand in this series but I was satisfied with the end and therefore bumped the rating up a star.
----------** Lots of Spoilers Ahoy!**------------
So what can I say? Literally first couple of sentences into the book and I was already hating it. How does something that's not technically alive (or technically human) with stopped, non-aging (therefore non-changing) body give birth to something? Never mind that it's the spawn of the character I can't stand. (I'm trying not to get into a rant about forced-romance relationships for the sake of having a relationship because I have this same exact problem in Butcher's Codex Alera with Amara and Bernard) This was a pretty disappointing twist after the high the last book left me on. Not to mention the fact that I've just come to terms with Codex Alera's Isana and suddenly Dresden himself has become her male counterpart.
But then the cameos start. The usuals show up of course (Murphy, Molly, Mister and Mouse) but it doesn't stop there. Literally everyone who has had some sort of big impact on the story makes a show, though at times I almost felt like I was watching the last call where everyone runs up onto the stage to take their final bow. And Gentleman Johnny Marcone I wish you had a bigger role in this! Though I will take what I can get.
In no particular order... The Leanansidhe really had a chance to shine this time around. I loved how she giggled and twirled in the midst of mayhem. That's the sort of crazy I can get behind. I was sort of hoping she'd show a little more bang and flair (what with Mab giving her permission to go all out) but I can be content with what we got. I also liked how she tried to warn Dresden away from the stone table (or at least, as much as she could). That was the most god-motherly we've seen you!
I was a little disappointed about the Winter Knight circumstances (or rather that that was the only circumstance that would drive him into her hands) but I suspected this merely meant he'd have to die in order to get out of the promise (thank you book ending! More vindication for me! You may redeem yourself yet, Butcher)
Martin--I knew it was going to be either you or Susan who wasn't playing the fully honest game and I was pleased to be right. He was always the type to be sneaking something up the other sleeve.
Waldo Butters--I adore you and your inches of cowardly bravery. He's always in completely over his head and tries his best.
Sanya--TINY BUT FIERCE. Not you, but you crack me up every time you say it. Couldn't have had a better entrance and I was happy you tagged along for the rescue mission.
Toot-Toot--I kind of feel like I'm the only one concerned that you keep...growing. I swear if he's a foot tall the next time he's summoned, something is definitely up. Either that or the pizza is like injecting him with growth hormones or something. (Oh preservatives and fake-food-stuffs!) But otherwise yay! The exuberance is charming.
If I keep going at this rate I'm going to recap the entire book so here's some final thoughts:
I'm not sure how I feel about the absolute annihilation of the Red Court. Yeah, they were bad. Yeah, they had no redeeming features, were pretty ugly suckers, certainly not the stereotypical VAMPIRES WITH SOULS, etc, etc. But to have them so wholly and simply wiped out...... seems the real moral question to me, more than anything else. I also wonder about the implications and how this will change the tides with the White Court and Black Courts. The Whites have always been the physically weakest but the Blacks are low in numbers (but strong in magical strength, if memory serves me right) Will this upset the balance, mirroring the uneasiness and strife between the two Fairy Courts?
Next book doesn't come out until next year so I can only hope that wherever Dresden winds up it a.) will not turn into the more recent Anne Rice Vampire novel, with him touring with Jesus in the desert with the devil and b.) does not lead him to see Susan and start whining for 200 pages. I wouldn't mind seeing his parents however. Or if Butcher followed through with the whole Odin/Valhalla thing. Only time will tell.
Oh, and the reason for giving it that extra star? Karrin Murphy's absolute awesomeness. She's always been a favorite of mine and was just SO MUCH FUN in the last few chapters (though not sure how I feel about her being the mouthpiece of god/angels). Man, she is going to be so mad when she gets back to the Water Beetle. (less)
... I'm not entirely sure what I can say without spoiling the plot. Honestly.
The hilarious lines are there as are the oh-so-redundant descriptions of...more... I'm not entirely sure what I can say without spoiling the plot. Honestly.
The hilarious lines are there as are the oh-so-redundant descriptions of just about everything--Butcher, darling, we get the picture. We know his Blue Beetle is a hodgepodge of parts and colors, his apartment an eclectic theme in a study of texture rather than style or reason, we know what a soul gaze is though I suspect that by reaching book 11 you've gone too far to stop repeating them now... But this is an old gripe and a familiar warning to my friends whenever I recommend the series to anyone.
What did I like? I liked the role reversal for Dresden, though I think the ending was fairly easy to guess at as for the perpetrator. I sort of feel like the characters are reaching the brink of some turning point in terms of their own personal direction and motivation, and I can't help but wonder if this will turn out to be groundwork for the books to follow.(less)