Kristen's Reviews > A Local Habitation

A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire
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Jun 18, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: urban-fantasy, didnt-finish, mystery, fiction
Recommended for: no-one
Read on May 31, 2012 , read count: 0

Well, that was terrible.

Firstly, the pacing. McGuire could have had a book a quarter the size of this novel if she had cut out the repetitions. I cannot believe how many times the characters explained to themselves, explained to each other, or explained to us what was going on. Honestly, this was a novel written for adults, not chimps.

Secondly, the characters. Initially, in Rosemary and Rue, I didn't fully enjoy October as the main character. She doesn't really have much going for her; she isn't all that intelligent, she doesn't have much fae power, and she's not really all that pleasant. You have to give a character more than stubbornness bordering on the ridiculous. However, as we got to know her she had a sort of street-kid charm, in that she was tough but vulnerable and the moments when she did let herself care were actually sweet. In this novel, the flaws in this protagonist were glaringly obvious. She is a PI without the first clue as to how to initiate an investigation. She spends pages declaring that she is the expert and everyone needs to listen to her without actually coming to any conclusions at all, thoroughout the entire course of the novel. The secondary characters were all haphazardly thrown together, and were so inconsistent that I often felt like I was missing a valuable plot point in the apparent sudden onset bipolar disorder that was affecting them all simultaneously. Unfortunately, this was not the case; they were just poorly developed.

Thirdly, the dialogue. Dear lord in heaven above, the dialogue. October used the 'I know it's not a plan, but do you have a better idea?' line approximately six times. Conversations skipped between topics with absolutely no direction. Characters were constantly posturing or threatening with no reason or regard for the fact that they were stuck in a building where people were being snuffed out at an alarming rate.

Forthly, the plot. I almost can't believe this was published, it was so plodding and poorly developed. It read like a corny horror movie (oh no, something mysterious is happening over there, you must go check it out. Oh no, communication with the outside has been diabled. Oh no, we are dying when we end up alone in this creepy building, but let's none of us stick together. Oh no, there is a pressing and important reason why no one can come to our aid and yet we cannot just leave the dangerous place. Oh no, the killer must be one of us.). They established that it was someone on the inside who was killing the others, but never tried to actually narrow this down. Everyone wandered around by themselves, and other than lecturing them that it was dangerous, Toby (the miracle detective) had no problem with this. (I would honestly shoot anyone I found by themselves. If you are not concerned that you will be murdered, you must be the murderer *pow, pow*). I addition, there is only the sketchiest reason they all stayed in the building where they were being murdered. I mean, if you were worried about April, why didn't everyone but April and Jan leave the building? Ta da! And how was April going to get hurt, anyway? She was a frigging computer program. So much stupid in one book.

I couldn't even finish this. I skipped to the last two chapters, verified that I was right about who-dunnit and what the heck was up with Alex/whats-her-face, and read the villain monologue about why this senseless plotline was inflicted on me. Although Rosemary and Rue was incredibly slow to start, it at least went somewhere and made sense according to the characters and their rules. This book was a terrible parody of a murder mystery, with cardboard characters, and the repetitive writing of author trying to beat us overhead with the plot points she did come up with, in the hopes that it will distract us from the gaping holes.

This book is on my 'incomplete' list because I could not inflict it on myself any longer, and I will not be reading any more of this series.
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Reading Progress

05/31 page 133
35.0% "The plotting is terrible! While things have happened in this book so far, it seems to take several extensive musings on the protagonist's part, and an average of three circular conversations before we can move on from even a simple event.

The dialogue is atrocious. I didn't notice it in Rosemary and Rue as much. I have never seen so many 'have you got a better idea's in my life."
05/31 page 144
38.0% "There is something so off about this book. It's fine that attitudes change during the course of a story; you expect it, for character development... but in this one, there is no consistency. Jan goes from cunning, to suspicious, to dumb, to hysterical, to intelligent, etc etc in Toby's eyes. Gordon is bitchy, then laughing, then racist, then heartbroken, then hysterical, all within two chapters. It is confounding."
05/31 page 151
40.0% "I'm trying to understand the logistics of swinging a baseball bat from the driver's seat to break the windshield... with a passenger in the seat beside you... in a VW Bug. What is she doing? Stabbing at it?"
05/31 page 164
44.0% "This is the most strained seclusion mystery plotline I've seen since that Haven episode where they thought a visit to a hotel in the middle of the ocean with no way off but a single broken down motor boat was a good idea... Btw, by page 164 you can stop reiterating that no one can come save them because of the political situation. We get it. I promise."
05/31 page 171
45.0% "At this point, I am rambling in status updates to stay sane. Why are you looking for connections in their schooling?? They all work in the same building and you already know that! WHAT ELSE COULD POSSIBLY BE IMPORTANT?"
05/31 page 189
50.0% ""Where's Eliott?"
"He had to go get something."

You are honestly too stupid to live. I hope you die in a fire."
04/02 marked as: didnt-finish

Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-8 of 8) </span> <span class="smallText">(8 new)</span>

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Carol. Nicely thought out review. I struggled with mine--it was hard to pinpoint exactly why this book drove me nuts without spending even more time reading it.


Chris i implore you to read the next few books! The author hits her stride and the character Toby does mature, the relationships progress realistically (lol), and the world-building is phenomenal! And yes she does become a MUCH better PI. I too hated this book for most of the same reasons as everyone else, and it took me awhile to actually break down and buy the first three books in the series. Luckily I didn't start reading until book three was out so the series was redeemed for me after this horrible installment.


Carol. Yes, please read them, Kristen, so I can vent with you about how horribly inconsistant a writer McGuire is :)


Kristen This could be viewed as conspiracy to murder. I don't think I could take another book.


Carol. Have you read her zombie/blogger series, starting with Feed? I liked the first, but then it got stupid. There's a hysterical podcast by the Incomparable about the Hugo nominees. They spent a significant amount of time complaining about her writing skills.


Chris In book 4 McGuire gets the pacing right (and adds more character development/growth to the equation), book 5 is even better and book 6 was beyond awesome. Read the Ranting Dragon's review of book 5 and book 6.


Carol. Maybe book 4 is better, but honestly--it took three books to get there. October is still a somewhat stupid hero and insists on running hither and yon--it's a stupid plot device. And there are larger world inconsistancies, as usual, such as October suddenly having a nemesis that everyone fears/doesn't believe in. Huh? Admittedly, I wanted to slap her less often in book three. Maybe I should have rated it 'three slaps.'


Kristen Thing is, there are so many books I want to read that putting up with one mediocre book, one terrible (absolutely terrible) book, and then getting into actual character development is not really acceptable. I won't rate a book well if it takes more than 100 pages to get into the characters and conflict... This series took two whole books! I will probably avoid the author until I have nothing else to read... or am feeling masochistic.


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