This book seems like it should have been good. It had a lot of elements that generally work well, the plot wasn't overly derivative, and it had cleverThis book seems like it should have been good. It had a lot of elements that generally work well, the plot wasn't overly derivative, and it had clever humor to boot. But the last part was the biggest problem. There are any number of reason why you may not find a joke funny. It could be that it is legitimately not funny, it could be that the type of humor doesn't appeal to you, it could be that you just don't get the joke, or it could be that the delivery is poor. Usually we view bad delivery as an issue in spoken jokes. Everyone knows someone who mangles the punchline, and often that is funnier than the joke (although in this case you're laughing at the delivery rather than the joke itself). However, more generally, nothing ruins a good joke more than bad delivery.
Twenty years ago I remember going to see the movie The Last Action Hero, a Schwarznegger action comedy. At its heart the movie is a comedy with action elements. And it's legitimately funny. Many of the gags and concepts are truly truly humorous. But I don't believe I ever laughed once when I saw it. I recognized the humor intellectually, I kept thinking "wow, that's funny", but somehow never once found it in me to laugh at any point of the movie (I'm talking about laughing at deliberate humor, not laughing at something for being bad). This is exactly the same reaction I had when reading this book, the first time I can ever recall feeling like the delivery was off in a book.
There is a lot of humor in this book and a lot of it is truly funny. The mental embodiement (if that's not an oxymoron) of Hell having arguments with itself. Funny. Noting that there have been two major magical disasters of some sort in history, with the first leading to the destruction of Pompei and the second leading to disco. Hilarious. The elderly and aged Greek Gods. Funny. Digging up a groaning one-liner from one of my favorite movies, Young Frankenstein. Pretty good. But somehow, I never laughed. I just kept thinking, "huh, that's funny." Somehow the book fails on delivery, and I'm not precisely sure how that's possible.
Beyond that my major problem was the character of the ghost Jacques. I really disliked him. First, he's a walking (er floating) stereotype, which is usually not a good start to anything. But my real problem is he was an embodyment (er, ectoplasmabodyment?) of sexual harassment. I don't generally read romance novels, and as urban paranormal fantasy this book has many of the common romance leanings found in the genre (although at heart it is much more fantasy than romance), not the least of which is the "male bad boy who the heroine still falls for despite the fact that he's bad for her" and while Jacques doesn't precisely fit this model, he's not precisely not this model either. But the constant innuendo and harrassement which seemed to be the only reason for his existence was so off putting that I really began to hate parts of the book. I may be overly sensitive to this right now because it's been a major issue in some of the social media and professional circles I'm at least cursorily involved with over the past few months (and in particular, the past few weeks), but I found the character to be infinitely more creepy than the charming I suspect the (female) author was going for. It felt overly inappropriate and I think could have been handled in a much better way, without sacrificing any of the necessary plot elements that were cocommitant with the character.
So...a decent concept with failed execution and little reason for me to go out of my way to read the next one....more
Unlike the first book (or at least I don't recall this from the first book), Bloodstone uses the pattern of lots of really really short chapters, withUnlike the first book (or at least I don't recall this from the first book), Bloodstone uses the pattern of lots of really really short chapters, with each one ending with a dramatic moment. It completely fails to achieve this, however, because too much of the drama is artificial with too many of the chapter breaks contrived (i.e., 4-5 consecutive chapters could have been a single normal chapter). This structure makes much of the story feel more like an outline and less like a complete novel. The tale does finally pick up near the end, but the first half or more suffers greatly from this contrived structure.
It's not a bad book, but would have been better if written in a more conventional form, rather than following a James-Patterson-Fill-in-the-Blanks-for-Tension outline....more
I give the author credit for a different spin on the zombie craze, but a lot of the story stumbled about and the end seemed very rushed and thrown togI give the author credit for a different spin on the zombie craze, but a lot of the story stumbled about and the end seemed very rushed and thrown together....more
A solid ending to a major multi-book story arc, Harrison is slowly cleaning up the loose ends from the tale and one gets the impression the end is inA solid ending to a major multi-book story arc, Harrison is slowly cleaning up the loose ends from the tale and one gets the impression the end is in sight. My rating would probably be 4 1/2 stars, but I'm bumping it up the extra half (rather than down) because Harrison has managed something so few authors of extended series seem to do nowadays: actual character growth. It's not perfect, but at least her characters can change and learn and move on from their past rather than being permanently trapped in the same identical cycle book after book. Small oddities and flat points exist (I couldn't figure out if the obsession everyone had with what Rachel was going to wear to the final confrontation was meant as some sort of meta-joke), but a strong book.
I've not been a big fan of the clearing-eventually-coming-from-book-1 romance between Rachel and Trent and I don't know if the end of this book is meant to have resolved it or not (I suspect not), but again, at least things are continuing to move forward.
By my figuring, there is only one major unresolved plot point: the long-term status of Ivy and the vampires (there are a few minor issues as well). If that is the focus of the next book or three, I could see this story wrapping up with a fair amount of satisfaction.
I really want to give this 2.5 stars. The premise of this book is pretty good, but the execution falls flat. The US Department of Magic, a small secreI really want to give this 2.5 stars. The premise of this book is pretty good, but the execution falls flat. The US Department of Magic, a small secretive department concerned with protecting the US against paranormal attack recruits two new members (Farah and Rocky) who are thrown into the thick of things almost from day 1. However, the background motivation of the department and, in particular, the department head are left a little too loose and lacking. Half the story involves the primary pair running around and "collecting" artifacts of various sorts from local museums. All of these have been there for years, but there is no explanation (or even question asked) as to why suddenly it is a vast emergency that they have to be gathered right now. It's not like the threat they are trying to counter was a surprise to the head of the department; he's clearly known about it for a long time. Character growth is attempted, but not well, and the ending is rather abrupt and serves to do little but set up the story for the inevitable sequel....more
The nth book of the series, Cold Days sets a fairly frentic pace without much downtime in it. It's a solid work in the series, probably falling somewhThe nth book of the series, Cold Days sets a fairly frentic pace without much downtime in it. It's a solid work in the series, probably falling somewhere in the middle with respect to overall quality. Better than the previous book, not as good as the two prior to that.
I give Butcher credit for really shaking things up in his story/universe, something many authors have been reluctant to do. Starting a few books ago, he really turned a lot of the story on its head, and while some of it has been somewhat unturned, the twists keep coming. I've also found throughout his books that he's pretty good at pulling off an unexpected twist or two—no matter how many I see coming, he usually manages to squeeze in at least one more.
The biggest drawback to me was the humor. Harry has always been a smart ass, free with the cultural cross-reference joke, and I've generally enjoyed them, but in this book it felt over-the-top and forced. Instead of being just part of the character(s), it felt more like the author trying to continually show how clever he was. ...more