Charles's Reviews > Half-Resurrection Blues

Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older
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Feb 06, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: 2015-challenge, fantasy, paranormal, stat_3, reviewed

Stuf I Read - Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older Review

Having not read an abundance of urban fantasies, I didn't know entirely what to expect from this book. The main character is an in-betweener, someone who's not quite dead and not quite alive. I have to admit, reading that I wasn't quite sure how it would happen, but the book does a great job of building up the mythology and the world around the character, around what's going on. I was a big fan of the bureaucracy at play that kept things moving but didn't really keep anyone happy. Carlos was a nice main character, in part because he's a bit lost and part because he's not the most sympathetic of characters. He works for the New York Council of the Dead. What that means is only brushed at in this book.

But part of why I did like this book was because Carlos is such an interesting character, not quite like most male main characters that I've seen in fiction. Because he's not really the greatest of guys. Sure, he tries. Sure, he wants to be good. But he also moves through his half life with a lack of agency. He doesn't really know anything. He does as he's ordered and that's about it. Including killing someone like him. The only thing that seems to snap him out of the rut his life is in is Sasha, the sister of the person he kills. And that relationship is all sorts of messed up. I found myself cringing a bit at it, because it's so obviously selfish of Carlos to try. Yes, I guess he promised her brother he'd watch out for her. But he also murdered her brother. He also never thinks to ask if Sasha needs that protection (turns out she does not).

That relationship with Sasha is also the part of the book I was most uncomfortable with. Because it's playing with some serious tropes and the ending...well, I really don't like the way the relationship went. It made Sasha (in my mind) as a tool for punishing Carlos for his misdeeds but stripped away how awesome she was. She should have been the main character of this. I feel that the book really suffers from not having more to do with her. She's there as an instrument, not as her own person. Which is unfortunate because while yes, the ending where she leaves is necessary, I really, really hope that this isn't a way of setting up them getting back together in a future book. I have to believe that this book is only using this trope to break the expectations associated with it. Which means that Carlos needs to move on. Sasha needs to move on. That relationship is poisoned to me and cannot be made to work.

And that I don't have the answer to that lingering question makes me hesitate. I want to trust the book because it is fun and because it does such a great job making fun and living characters. The side characters in the book are all pretty much more interesting than Carlos. Because he's so passive most of the time, so un-driven. They are vibrant and I want to know more about them, want to see more with them. Having read the story at Tor.com "Kia and Gio," that's more of what I want. I want the little flourishes and the more human moments. I want to see the cast in action instead of it being just Carlos. Because the rest of the cast is great, is fun and deep and I want more. More!

Ahem. Basically, this was a good book. It had the one thing, the one trope that I really hesitate about, but I have to trust that it will be handled well, and differently than I've seen with other stories that feature it. Because I liked the plot, the setting. I liked the side characters and even though he's pretty much in the wrong the entire story, I ended up thinking Carlos could be taken in some very interesting directions. So I will read the next book, definitely, and give this one an 8/10.
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Reading Progress

February 6, 2015 – Started Reading
February 6, 2015 – Shelved
February 6, 2015 – Shelved as: 2015-challenge
February 6, 2015 – Shelved as: fantasy
February 6, 2015 – Shelved as: paranormal
February 6, 2015 – Shelved as: stat_3
February 7, 2015 –
page 326
100.0% "Solidly fun!"
February 7, 2015 – Finished Reading
February 20, 2015 – Shelved as: reviewed

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