Rose's Reviews > Big Red Tequila

Big Red Tequila by Rick Riordan
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Feb 10, 2014

it was ok
bookshelves: mysteries, tried-to-read
Read in February, 2012

Rick Riordan is the author of my beloved "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series. Little-known fact: he'd already been a published writer of a critically-acclaimed mystery series for at least a decade previous to that.

Given my love of Riordan's YA fantasy and my love of mystery series, I've been wanting to try his Tres Navarre series in earnest for some time. I'd started this book several times in the past but always ended up getting drawn away by other things within the first chapter or two. This time, looking for a break between Conan Doyle collections, I decided to pick up "Big Red Tequila" and power on through in earnest this time.

Considering how determined I was to read it through, it might be saying something that I just couldn't manage it. I made it halfway before finally deciding to stop forcing myself to plow through on a book that I was, okay, maybe sort of vaguely enjoying when I was actually caught up reading it, but which I never actually felt like picking up after I'd put it down. It was failing to hold my attention, and there's too many books to read to stick with something that you're not connecting with.

This was Riordan's first published novel, and I think the problem basically boils down to that. There's a lot of promise here -- one of the reasons I was able to pick up the book several times and always made it through the first chapter is that the book starts off on a hell of a hook. Our narrator, Jackson "Tres" Navarre (and yes, Percy Jackson's surname *is* a callback to Tres), is returning to his hometown of San Antonio, and he's barely two minutes out of the cab when he receives welcome-home well-wishes in the form of the irate former tenant of the apartment Tres has rented refusing to vacate said apartment. The story unfolds quickly enough as we learn the double-motive for Tres's return -- at the request of his high school sweetheart, as well as because he's been unable to let go of his father's unsolved murder from ten years previous and would like to finally find some answers.

One of those stories is tailor-made to pique my interest (hint: it's the latter). And yet, most of the time, I just didn't care. Despite being told that Tres is concerned, confused, and still grieving his father, I never really *felt* any of those things from the character, and so I couldn't bring myself to care about him to the degree that I need to care to be really engaged by a story.

It was a similar problem with the side characters. Many of said characters have a wacky idiosyncrasy which is so fun-ly characteristic of Riordan's stories (the enchilada-eating cat! The Jimmy-Buffet-loving computer-hacker brother!). But because the characters didn't seem to have any depth behind them, the idiosyncrasies felt forced -- tacked on to make us like the characters because there wasn't anything else there TO like.

The plot, which moves along sharply enough and has plenty of action and unveiled puzzle-pieces, nevertheless could never really engage me because I never really felt like Tres or his associates are "real." Halfway through, I admitted temporary defeat, and the book is back on my bookshelf awaiting another try.

... I say "awaiting another try," despite my negative review, because I've heard that the Tres Navarre really picks up after the first book as Riordan develops his skills as an author. And I'm inclined to believe this, because by the time the "Percy Jackson" series rolls around we have an author whose plotting, pacing, style, and most of all *characters* positively shine thanks to his decade or more of published writing experience. I'll finish this book off, by hook or by crook, before moving on to the rest of the series, because I'm an Adrian-Monk stickler for Proper Reading/Viewing Order when I can manage it -- but I definitely won't be spending valuable Official Reading Time on it. (This is the sort of book I'll keep in the car to read for when I'm stuck in truly-bad traffic or unexpectedly have to wait for somebody somewhere.) I'm banking on the series being worth finishing the first one -- I hope I turn out to be right!
3 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Big Red Tequila.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

03/09 marked as: tried-to-read

No comments have been added yet.