Chris's Reviews > Soulless

Soulless by Gail Carriger
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's review
Jun 03, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: fantasy-historical, fantasy-urban, weres-and-kitsune

** spoiler alert ** I should admit two things before I start this review. I didn't finish this book; however, it does not belong on my ick-attack shelf (the shelf for truly bad books). Second, I really wanted to like this book. I really did.

I have several problems with this book. Maybe, I'm the wrong person to read this because I have never read those regency romance novels. The idea behind the book is good. Carriger's gets full points for that (she gets full points for two other things, see the end of this review). The first problem I had is that Carriger keeps switching between two narrative voices; I'm not even sure she or her editor were aware of this. One voice is very formal, the other less so. Eventually this becomes distracting. It doesn't work and makes the reader wonder about the change.

The fantasy elements of the novel don't seem well thought. It is true that Carriger is trying to be fresh (maybe, considering the UF genre now, it is impossible) with her idea of a vampire hive and a soulless person. The elements don't work because they don't seem well thought out. To boldy use the lack of a soul as a plot point is an intersting idea, yet any reader could say that Alexia, in fact, has a soul. I also would have liked to see more of Alexia's thoughts on the matter (at least in the first 125 pages). It doesn't cut it just to have her read Greek philosphers and she's fine. The vampires, despite the use of the hive, are just like every other vampire and so are the werewolves.

Worse, Carriger uses, or seems to, every single UF cliche about heroines in the first 100 pages. Alexia doesn't think she is pretty, but she has a beautiful body. She's exotic because her father was a heathen Italian (why her mother would marry a heathen Italian is never explained). This is unique point one. She is soulless (something not even her mother knows about her, though Alexia was told at a young age). That is unique point two. She reads more than the average lady which makes her, somehow, knowledgable about sex even though she is virgin. That's unique point three. She is better than her airhead family. Unique point four. Her soulless state is unusal; she is the only soulless one in the area. Unique point five. She designs her own parsols. Unique point six.

Someone put her out of my misery.

At times it seems that Carriger is trying to be cute and funny. She almost is, and I believe the idea would've worked better in a shorter format. Sadly, much of the cute and funny comes across as annoying. As a novel it only makes me, once again, realize how good Jane Austen and Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Aurora Leigh And Other Poems are in terms of style. Carriger is drawing on both these works and comes across as a poor last place finisher.

There are, however, two very good things that Carriger does here, that while not ensuring this book or a series a second chance, will make me look for her work outside of this. The first, and most important, is that Carriger gives Alexia a true friend, Ivy. Both women interact with each as equals even though each has a flaw that annoys the other. I liked that. The other is that Carriger presents a relationship of equal that is not a silly love triangle. Because of this, when Carriger writes something outside of this series, I'll check it out.
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Reading Progress

02/07/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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Chris I'm on page 29. I'm finding it alternately slightly amusing and slightly annoying. It's slightly funny because of Pride and Prejudice jokes, but it also is very, very derivate of half a dozen other urban fantasy books.

Chris Okay, maybe jokes isn't quite the right word, but that whole family breakfast scene was P&P>

I'm no longer leaning. I'm finding it very annoying. I think it would've made a better short story.

Jamie Collins Wow, I don't think this book is meant to be taken so seriously. It's quite silly, and obviously invites you to accept its nonsense at face value and enjoy the romp. I was amused myself, but I can certainly see where many people wouldn't like it, especially those not fond of romances.

I thought the author's problems with abrupt POV changes improved in her second book, but overall I found it less entertaining than this one.

Hazel Chris wrote: "Okay, maybe jokes isn't quite the right word, but that whole family breakfast scene was P&P>

I'm no longer leaning. I'm finding it very annoying. I think it would've made a better short story."

Agreed. I may have said in my review, I thought she had a couple of good ideas, but didn't know what to do with them. I did like the premise of the supernaturals having a surfeit of soul and our heroine being soul-less, but again, she didn't think through what that would mean.

Jamie, I guess I was disappointed because the steampunk elements were what attracted me, and I was expecting some competent scifi. :-(

Chris Elizabeth, I thought the hive was but wasn't sure. By squirming do you mean the sex tease bits?

Jamie, I at first found it amusing, but then it wore off. I actually checked it her out on Goodreads and supposedly she is influenced by P.G. Wodehouse, which I can see. For some reason, I didn't think the humor worked will in novel form, which is why I think it would have been in short story or novella form. Undoubtably the fact that I don't read many romances also didn't help (more me than her). There were some things I liked. I'm interested to see how her short fiction would turn out.

message 6: by Hazel (last edited Jun 04, 2010 11:13AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Hazel Elizabeth wrote: "It's silly. I agree. I was forgiving about several things. I thought the amount of attention paid to clothing was totally ridiculous. Has anyone read the Anne Perry books? [book:The Cater Street Ha..."

That's one of the reasons I thought she was writing for the screen. I felt she was focused on costume design and set design including props, rather than plot/characterisation.

I liked that Anne Perry book, except for the denouement. Didn't know there was an adaptation. Thanks, Elizabeth.

Did you know that Perry was a famous teenaged killer?

Jamie Collins Chris, I know what you mean, some kinds of humor only work in small doses. Wodehouse is a good example.

Hazel and I agreed earlier that Carriger's "About this author" blurb is cringe-inducing.

Chris She seems to talk about clothes on her blog too. But maybe its part of her publicity.

Miriam She is better than her airhead family. Unique point four.

Unfortunately not unique at all in romance novels -- it is a sadly common way of making the heroine look better.

message 10: by Chris (new) - rated it 1 star

Chris I use to like romance novels. Ah well.

Isabella Excellent review! I 100% agree with all of your points, even if I gave this book 1 star more than you did :P (I blame it on my sudden love for Lord Akeldama).

It is a shame, though. I really thought I'd like this one :\

message 12: by Chris (new) - rated it 1 star

Chris It happens. At least it was more of a taste thing then OMG the writer is killing the English language.

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