I am really ambivalent about this book. I have not been so ambivalent about a book for a long time. Maybe it has given me my own brand of bipolar neurI am really ambivalent about this book. I have not been so ambivalent about a book for a long time. Maybe it has given me my own brand of bipolar neurosis. If only I could weaponize that.
The premise is certainly fresh and different. There is no butt-kicking or fairies or werecreatures or vamps or ghosties or ghouls or zombies or any other supernatural nasties in of any kind*. The story revolves around a vigilante squad of neurotics who change the world for the better by flushing their crazy into unsuspecting criminals, thereby plunging them into a pit of despair, making them lose all their money and scrambling and rebooting their personalities.
*although there are people called highcaps with special abilities (telekinesis, telepathy, dream invasion, force fields, that sort of stuff)
The heroine, Justine (ok, not the best name and I had a really hard time trying to get rid of the De Sade connotations) Jones is a regular non-highcap human, except she is a raging hypochondriac who dreads that she has a condition called the vein star syndrome (of which her mother died) which could cause one of the veins in her brain to burst causing immediate and sudden death. She obsesses about every single twinge and pinprick in her forehead, spends her free time trolling the internet for new medical info and sudden death stories involving the decease, attends ER for cat scans on a regular basis and expects to die any minute now. You would have thought someone so whiney and paranoid about their health would be extremely annoying. But, surprisingly, no. On the contrary, it was rather endearing. In fact Justine reminded me a lot of my other favourite kook, Emma Pillsbury:
Their fashion sense seemed sorta similar too (or did I just make them have the same fashion sense in my head?) so that's how I ended up picturing Justine. I adored her, she was charming and funny and kooky. I mean how can you not like a girl who says things like this:
"I say this nonchalantly, as if I'm accepting a mint bonbon from a butler instead of a new vigilante lifestyle from a slightly maniacal mutant."
The only thing that really annoyed me about Justine was her tendency to blame herself for everything. I mean (view spoiler)[she comes home to find her boyfriend having clearly just slept with another woman and proceeds to give herself a hard time because she is making him bitter (hide spoiler)].
And now we get to the love interests:
Cubby. I don't really need to say anything do I? With a name like that the guy was doomed as a love interest from the start. He is a self-absorbed dickhead and I'd very much like to punch him in the face.
Packard. My favourite of the lot. Anyone so deliciously diabolical gets my vote.
Otto. Creeps me out. The name also doesn't speak in his favour. And what's with the beret, dude? I mean, I know what's with the beret, of course, I did read the book, but really? A beret? This was the kind of image I had of him throughout most of the book:
Until I managed to think of this which wasn't much of an improvement but now Otto is forever Che in my mind:
Also, all the hot cold I love you how could you crap. Not for me, thank you.
Overall, the world building was good but I struggled with the writing style for a bit. It felt quite distanced. Like watching marionettes with visible strings. It took me a while to get used to, but I think it worked in the end because that is how Justine views herself. Distanced. Apart from other people. There were some plot holes and inconsistencies. I also didn't like the ending. The climax was very anti-climatic. On the other hand, I loved the characters. Even the secondary ones were pretty well drawn. Shelby was my favourite. Love love love Shelby. The story was interesting and I haven't come across a UF series I have enjoyed quite so much recently and I will most definitely be finishing it off.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Ugh. Cutting my losses on this one. I read to about half way and flicked through the rest but it doesn't seem to get any better. None of it makes sensUgh. Cutting my losses on this one. I read to about half way and flicked through the rest but it doesn't seem to get any better. None of it makes sense. The heroine is a hospital doctor who gets turned into a vampire and one of the first things she gets told to do and does in pretty short order is quit her job. Because people will start noticing that she doesn't age. Ummmm, yeah, but probably not for at least another 10 years or so. She's only 28, FFS. And wouldn't it make sense for her to stay working at the hospital at least for a little bit. You know, easily accessible supply of donor blood (however unethical it would be to steal it) would come in handy. But nooooo, the very first time she needs to feed she goes out and stalks someone and gets herself stabbed and nearly dies. The words "dumb" and "ass" come to mind.
Of course the heroine is so incredible everyone falls in love with her on sight, of course there is a love triange, of course she suddenly acquires mad fighting skillz that come literally out of nowhere (you just need to let go and let your nature take over) and of course there is a blood tie that is used to justify a bunch of inexplicable, illogical and downright despicable behaviour. The heroine's "sire" is a psychotic rapist/murderer and the heroine voluntarily and for no good reason hands herself over to him, allows him to abuse and murder 15 year olds (she even starts to enjoy the view!), develops feelings for said psycho which are not entirely down to the tie (yeah, poor boy, there must have been something to cause him to become like that, it's not his fault) and really, I just couldn't go on reading this bull.
So, another series is over and, I'm afraid to say, for me the ending was just meh. Unfortunately, this appears to be the fate of so many series theseSo, another series is over and, I'm afraid to say, for me the ending was just meh. Unfortunately, this appears to be the fate of so many series these days. The Soookie Stackhouse, Georgina Kincaid and Dante Valentine books all immediately spring to mind. Like the first two of these three, the main problem with the Parasol Protectorate series, I think, is that there just was not enough plot for the five books and the series went on for longer than the author is convincingly able to sustain the storyline.
This last instalment takes place two years after the ending of the previous book with Lord and Lady Maccon still residing in Lord Akeldama's closet. The latter is the legal guardian to Prudence, the infant inconvenience who is now a toddler causing a lot of havoc and keeping Lord Akeldama, all his drones and the majority of the Woolsey werewolf clan on their toes. That is, until Alexia receives a summons from Matakara, Queen of the Alexandria hive and the oldest living vampire and the Maccons, along with the Tunstells and their troupe whom they take along as cover, set out for Egypt where, inevitably, they encounter adversity, mystery and adventure, leading to the series being very neatly wrapped up and tied up with a bow (a very oversize one with pink and turquoise stripes, to fit in with the general atmosphere).
Where with the previous book I was a teensy bit bored, with this one, I was a lot bored. In fact all of the first half of this book was just filler, with the author re-visiting some of the more memorable places and characters from the previous books - the hat shop now run by Biffy, the Woolsey Hive (with notable appearances from Countess Nadasdy and Mabel Dair), the fleeting return of Felicity Loontwill in a flurry of spite, the sudden reappearance of Lady Kingair (in the nude in certain placess, no less!) and a single appearance of Guatve Trouve (to deliver a replacement parasol) to name but a few.
The charm and humour of the earlier books has fizzled to a point where a lot of it read like bad panto tipping over into complete absurdity at several points (yes, I am talking about the hideous trouser ripping episode involving Tunstell and the overabundance of silly names). Most of the book could have been illustrated with images like these:
Not a great visual backdrop.
After the leasurly self-indulgent intro, the actual story and the wrap up were far too rushed and felt desperate and emotionally manipulative. (view spoiler)[Two major caracters die or are on the point of dying only to be miraculously rescued a few pages later, for crying out loud. (hide spoiler)] But the most disappointing thing of all, is that the main mysteries of the books - the Order of the Brass Octopus, the nature of the soulless/soulstealers (what/why/how are they?) etc - remain unanswered pretty much completely, unless you count the fact that Alexia's abilities are discovered to be cancelled out when she is submerged in water (I am not even going to mark it as a spoiler because, really, after five books, that is what we find out?!?).
Having said that, there were a few things that I liked which saved this from being a one star disaster. While I still feel that too many pages were dedicated to it, I did like the relationship between Biffy and Lyall. It was nice to have a homosexual relationship which was genuinely sweet and not reduced to riduculousness. I admire the fact that Alexia stays human and the elegant solution introduced by Carriger to deal with Connall's immortality and that Alexia never descends to the depth of Bella's vanity to obsess about her aging. But the thing I like most of all is the fact that, unlike in the vast majority of urban fantasy and PNR, Alexia remains very much her own person, with her own separate interests, friends and responsibilities and does not immediately turn into a woman-sized appendage of her virile sexy werewolf of a husband, entirely subsumed into his world, beliefs and persona. I can respect that. And I still love certain characters enough (Madame Lefoux and Lord Akeldama please make your way onto the stage) to be content to simply watch them. I almost feel nostalgic already. Almost.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
But, you know what, nice is right next to this place:
McKenzie Lewis is a shadow reader. She can tWeeeeeeell, this was nice.
And, of course:
But, you know what, nice is right next to this place:
McKenzie Lewis is a shadow reader. She can track Fae by reading the shadows they leave behind when teleporting. And that makes her valuable in a war that's going on between the Court led by king Atroth and the rebels who want to replace the king with another contender for the throne. McKenzie has been reading the shadows for the king and crushing on the king's sword master Kyol Taltrayn for the last 10 years. She is convinced that the rebels are monsters who spread misery and death in their unjustified grab for power and that the Court is made up entirely of goody goodies whose only thought is for the Realm (a separate plane of existence/world which Fae inhabit) and what's best for it. Until, that is, she is kidnapped by the rebels and realisation dawns that things may not be quite so straightforwardly black and white.
This wasn't complete dullsville. I got through the pages fast enough. It was more bland than truly boring.
Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad. The writing was serviceable, no one was TSTL or made me want to scream with rage, there were no creepy rapist typesthe creepy rapist types were not made into romantic interests, the story plodded along nicely, plenty of action scenes, the world building didn't have any massive holes, sort of interesting side characters.
The love triangle was pretty annoying, though. Mainly because I could barely tell the two love interests apart they were so similar, but that's not the end of the world, usually. I think the main problem was that this just didn't stand out in any way and completely failed to stir my imagination/mind/nether regions. I just didn't care about what was happening or any of the characters. I'll probably still read the sequel but for now, the only memorable thing about this book for me is that the cover should definitely win the rear of the year award. ...more
If I had to sum up this book in one word, that word would be fun. This is not a message book or a portrayal of anything. It is just an exceptionally eIf I had to sum up this book in one word, that word would be fun. This is not a message book or a portrayal of anything. It is just an exceptionally entertaining urban fantasy with a feisty queen of witty come backs heroine and a dark mysterious sex god of a hero with tortured past, no thinking required. It was precisely what I was looking for.
The heroine, Charley Davidson ("There's a certain responsibility that comes with having a name like Charley Davidson. It brooks no opposition. It takes shit from no one. And it lends a sense of familiarity when I meet clients. They feel like they know me already. Sort of like if my name was Martha Washington or Ted Bundy.") is a grim reaper. Or rather, she is the grim reaper. She sees the dead, the dead see her (apparently, she is very bright) and she helps them to cross to the other side by passing through her:
"...my job was to lead people into the light. Aka, the portal. Aka, me. But it didn't always go smoothly. Kind of like leading a horse to water and whatnot."
Charley works as a private investigator and also helps the police (namely, her Uncle Bob and her dad before him) to solve crimes (it is much easier to do that if you can ask the deceased who killed them) and every night for the past month she has been having wet dreams featuring a dark stranger who materialized out of smoke and shadows.
At the start of the book, Charley is woken up from one of those dreams and is thrust directly into a murder mystery which will lead her to several near death experiences, some discoveries about the world and her purpose in it and Reyes Farrow, a man she has only met once before but who has left quite an impression.
Charley's character is what made this book for me. She posesses that rare gift of which I am eternally jealous and appreciative. And that is humour. Charley is a hoot. And while Darynda Jones does go too far at times (Charley telling Garrett Swopes, aka Mr. tall, dark and skeptic, the names of her breasts was funny, until you realise that she is actually serious and she has named her own breasts and refers to them by their names during sex) but overall, I loved Charley and her witticisms. And I am totally looking forward to reading the other two books in the series....more