Chichipio's Reviews > Thunderbird Falls

Thunderbird Falls by C.E. Murphy
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Aug 14, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: urban-fantasy
Read from August 14 to 15, 2011

Murphy tried to write one of those stories where nothing is as it seems, and then a big revelation at the end changes everything. She failed. Hard.

Imagine watching The sixth sense with Bruce Willis's character looking like Casper the friendly ghost; or if you still want him to be Bruce Willis instead of some cheap CGI, how about trying to picture him walking through solid objects and winking in and out of view in the middle of a scene without any of the characters acknowledging the oddity of normal person doing that. Then, after two hours of movie and a considerably less amount of hair from all the head-scratching, the big revelation comes. *gasp* He's dead! He's a ghost! OMG, how didn't we see it?! Hmm… no. Just no.

The reason it worked for The sixth sense was that it wasn't so painfully obvious from the very beginning. Sure, observant people could put things together with a little guesswork, but it was still subtle enough to understand why the characters weren't so quick on the uptake. This is not the case in Thunderbird Falls.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. This is bad, but I'm guessing it only would have taken my rating down to two stars. The problem is that it built on top of another pet peeve of mine: The reset button.

The events in the first book happens in the course of three days or so. At the beginning, the MC didn't know anything about her powers and by the end of the book she had to be able to wield them well enough to defeat a god. The kicker here is that for her powers to work, she needs to believe in them, to trust them. I thought that all the struggle to go from a non-believer to a powerful (albeit untrained) shaman by the end of the book was handled well and I liked how much the character had evolved. I was hoping that in this one she would start working to remedy the "untrained" part of her description since it was obvious that there was a lot to learn and it seemed a good direction to take the series.

Instead, I started this book and was surprised to find a completely different Joanne Walker than the one we left in the first book. The reset button had been pressed. Some authors seem to realize that they advanced their characters a little bit too far outside their comfort zones so, instead of dealing with it, they just recklessly backpedal with no regard for how stupid the characters will look.

In this case, six months have passed and, out of the blue, Joanne seemed to have decided not to believe anything that happened to her. It doesn't matter that she still uses her powers on a daily basis, speaking to spirit animals and healing people. She goes right back to not believing right after those things. It doesn't matter that she has perfect recollection of fighting a god, having been run through with a sword, healed herself and all those other things that happen in the first book. It's like reading someone with multiple personalities, only not in a fun way, just annoying.

It was the combination of these two very big problems that took the rating down to one star.

Well, but how exactly were these two things combined? Like this:

Every time her spirit guide tries to talk her into exploring her gift she does the next best thing to sticking fingers in her ears, closing her eyes and screaming "lala-lalala." It doesn't matter that the guy is trying to talk her into healing people and saving lives with no ill effects to her or others. She still chooses not even trying.

Then she does something foolish (of course she does! After all, she refused to learn anything to prevent this sort of thing), her spirit guide disappears and a "teacher" (that nobody knows or asks for) appears. This new teacher is asking her increasingly weirder and darker things, but now she suddenly decides to take a leap of faith and stop questioning everything and just doing what she's told: Blood sacrifice? Sure. Setting myself on fire for the greater good? No problem! Killing a pregnant woman by stabbing a knife in her belly? Hmmm… I have my doubts but I'm listening. What?!

Seriously, it took a lot of things going wrong for her to start even questioning what they were doing. But again it was like reading someone with multiple personalities. These rituals and other shenanigans were performed at night, a time where Joanne didn't appear to have any qualms about the effects of their actions. She seemed to wholeheartedly agree with what they were doing. Then, during the day, the results she had worked so hard to achieve the previous night freaked her out and she seemed opposed to them, even trying to fix them. But as soon as night fell again, she would happily start to work on the next phase of the plan like everything was peachy. I would like to say that this was part of the story, that somehow the night warped her mind in some subtle way making her do these things, but no, it was simple bad writing.

I can appreciate great vocabulary, proper grammar, nice metaphors, lyrical sentences and all that (read "nothing else pops to mind right now"), but for me, the most important parts of a book are the story and the characters. Give me a good idea with characters that make sense and I'll forgive you almost anything, but stomp all over your characters' personalities and intellect just so they can fit into what was a pretty flimsy idea to begin with and you won't get me to see past that. I don't care if some scenes were individually well-written or if a fight was cool, I will still dislike the book as a whole. In this case, with a passion.

I'll read the next one to see if this was only a misstep or if I should write off this series as "not for me."
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05/24 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Sheesh. Can it possibly be that bad?


Chichipio Oh, it's worse than that. Reading it leaves you with a dull ache in your head… well, your forehead, actually… and it's not so much from reading it as it is from headdesking non-stop. And it's not even that short, so it's a lot of pain.


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Oh, goody. Sounds like something I wouldn't want to miss for the world.

Do you think all that headdesking left permanent damage? (view spoiler)


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