**spoiler alert** This story really threw me. I added the "fauxminist" tag along with the "feminist" tag because I'm really not sure how I feel about...more**spoiler alert** This story really threw me. I added the "fauxminist" tag along with the "feminist" tag because I'm really not sure how I feel about it. It feels like Bujold's take on the old sci-fi standby of "hero bangs weird alien chick," although she does her own very sensitive and insightful magic so that it doesn't feel titillating. On the other hand, I was really surprised when Miles actually, y'know, slept with Taura. (Sex was only way he could prove she was human? Or was that simply required by the type of story?) In these kind of set-ups, usually Miles realizes what the other character requires and finds his own solution. This time, he just did it. And it did feel like he objectified her in some ways, even if the audience wasn't necessarily called to. I think I'll probably need to check this out in print to come to a conclusion.(less)
**spoiler alert** I...kinda wish I liked this book more? I mean, it seems to have all the things I like. Steampunk! Feminist! Cross-dressing Lesbians!...more**spoiler alert** I...kinda wish I liked this book more? I mean, it seems to have all the things I like. Steampunk! Feminist! Cross-dressing Lesbians! with! Vampires! and! Werewolves! Why isn't this more awesome?
But between the incredibly awkward, poorly-constructed prose, the repetitive dialogue, the predictable and barely interesting plot, the Alexia-is-supposedly-so-smart-but-can't-remember-vital-clues-because-the-plot-is-DRAMATIC!-THINGS!-MUST!-HAPPEN!, the fights between our romantic leads that are poorly cribbed from every Hepburn/Tracy film, and the fact that Alexia has this stupid friend that she constantly belittles and doesn't like (but who is supposedly her bestest bestie and OMG I am tiiiired of authors writing dumb women who are dumb for stereotypical reasons because it starts to look like you need your feminist card revoked at that point), and the ending, the omgwtfbbq ending that comes out of nowhere and is completely out of character WHAT?! Um. And is all: READ MY SEEEEEEEEEEQUEL!! READ IT!
Between all of those things I have lost track of my sentence. Gah.
I don't read a ton of romance-themed series, but structurally this felt a lot like an episode of popcorn tv: characters do things because plot (complete with plot-related selective memory), not because the plot arises naturally out of their actions, and the ending must be big and as dramatic as possible to get you to tune in next week. I will sometimes give tv a pass (I'm looking at you, Buffy) for this, because it's a short medium that has to accomplish a lot in 45 minutes or so. I'm less inclined to give books a pass, especially books as long as Changeless. It was just so clumsy! *sigh*
Also, maybe it's just a sign that I'm in the mindset of Steampunk after Amal El-Mohtar's essay on steampunk, but the unexamined imperialism in this book bugged me. Steampunk has a tendency to glorify Victorian England and, as such, its tendency to treat non-white peoples and cultures as prizes to be captured and manipulated. The discussions around Egypt and India made me wince.
On a final note, I also think this series fails at the GBLT, so far. I get that your gay characters are super competent! They are also big, fat stereotypes! The mincing gay fashionista with his cringe-worthy italics, the Marelene Dietrich lesbian with her top-hat and sultry smile--I complained about this in the first book, and I'm still complaining. These are gay stereotypes for the straight set: exotic, titillating, they can make you feel progressive because you're friends with them your heroine is friends with them but still allow you to smile at them, just a little, behind your hand because haha! gays are so funny with their ways! We love them, but they still aren't like us.
Also: do not tease me with your clumsy Ho Yay. Do not get my hopes up. It is so rare to see a well-written lesbian character that even a poorly-written one with ham-fisted budding bisexual awakenings from the POV character slathered over every interaction will actually get my hopes up. (Seriously? She had to strip her naked for the plot?! Ludicrous.) Don't. Do. That. It sucks. Depictions of actual, healthy lesbian relationships are rare enough that teasing some slash into a straight, married character's life is almost insulting.
All those complaints aside, if you are looking for something fluffy and fairly brainless, with plenty of lesbian teasing and even more straight sex, to pass the hours: here's your book! Not everything has to be cerebral and intellectually challenging. Even if it's not exactly my cuppa, I can see why people enjoy these.(less)
I was really disappointed by this; I was expecting an adaptation of Jane Eyre, not a simple transposition of the plot from England to space. Well, it...moreI was really disappointed by this; I was expecting an adaptation of Jane Eyre, not a simple transposition of the plot from England to space. Well, it is what it says on the tin: Jane Eyre in space, scene by scene a nearly exact copy of the original. (less)
**spoiler alert** After Reading Warrior's Apprentice, it was really, really great to get the back story on Miles' parents. Fascinating!
SPOILERS BELOW...more**spoiler alert** After Reading Warrior's Apprentice, it was really, really great to get the back story on Miles' parents. Fascinating!
I was really conflicted about Sergeant Bothari when I read "Warrior's Apprentice." The Sympathetic Rapist is not a trope that I particularly enjoy encountering, although Bujold wrote it in a way that didn't feel like she was making excuses for Bothari (or Miles). Now that I know what happened, I have a better understanding of why someone capable of doing what Bothari did was allowed such a privileged position in the Vorkosigan household. (I should add that I've also read "Barrayar," so that's influencing this review.) Writing mental illness is very difficult, but I think Bujold manages to be nuanced without, again, making excuses for characters' actions, and that is something I really, really appreciate.
Edited to add: Other tropes that I didn't think could be written well/subverted: the evil bisexual. How did she do that? Seriously, Bujold is brilliant. (less)
This book was straight-up terrible. If I hadn't read it in audiobook I probably would have dropped it (although many a time did I wish that it had it...moreThis book was straight-up terrible. If I hadn't read it in audiobook I probably would have dropped it (although many a time did I wish that it had it in dead tree form so I could skim the endless, boringly repetitive discussions of time-travel paradox.) The characters have the same conversations over and over again; when they're separated, they have to go through the same process of figuring out the same problems, and then talk about them again. Each time someone joins the party they have to explain it to the newbie. Meanwhile, the reader (me) is just going, I know, I know, can we just say "And then we explained everything to the guardsman and got back to the plot?!" I get that time travel paradoxes can be hard to explain, and you don't want your audience criticizing later inconsistencies--but the solution is not to explain and re-expain ad nauseam.
Combine that with thin characterization and children acting like no child has ever behaved (doing stupid things while convinced of their own genius) with banter that only occasionally manages to add a gloss of interest or comraderie to the conversation, and you have this clunky, stupid and incomprehensible book that in spite of its interminable explanations still fails to make sense--or worse, entertain.(less)