Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Word of Advice, the Beaten Track Is The Safest

I had not much expectation of getting another post into July, but I think I overestimated my own attention span.  I am about a third of the way through a biggie (more anon about that, of course) but my dear cousin abg did me the favor of picking up my library reserves, which included Meg Cabot's latest, the second in her vampire series.  In yet another reminder of both how boring I am and how old this blog is, I reviewed the first one back in September.  Not only that, I happened to have (I think completely coincidentally) reread my review last Friday, so I know just what I thought about it.  And that was that I was less than excited about Meg Cabot venturing into slightly more action-oriented fare, but that I had hope for her romance writer instincts to make the second book well worth reading.

I kind of thought that there would be three books in the series, but the ending of this second one, Overbite, seems pretty complete, so I'm not sure.  In any case, the romance seems definitively concluded, so I have no desire to see a sequel :)  I wouldn't have much interest in any case, of course, but there was nothing in this book to change my mind.  I thought the action of the last one was overdone, but I was more annoyed about the lack of a romance.  In this one, I was hoping for more romance, less action.  What I got was more romance, but more annoying romance, and *more* action (and I think the book is still shorter :)) So it probably wasn't actually more action, pages-wise, but it sure felt like a lot.  Was it even worse done than the last one? Could be yes, especially because this was definitely meant to be a final flourish type of thing.  And of course, could be I was just in a different mood or have become a more snobby reader :) In either case, I found the plot jump, uncompelling, hard to follow, and pretty boring.  A lot of the time I was just, whaa?

The rest of the time I was like, what happened? Meg Cabot knows what she's doing.  Why is this romance no fun? I really don't know why it wasn't.  Well I do know - the characters were both idiots.  But the characters are idiots in a lot of Meg Cabot books... I mean it was interesting that even without the first person narration, Meena comes off as an overly spunky and "special" type, but she wasn't worse than usual.  I guess the focus was just really not on the romance, and it always felt kind of passed off.  At the same time, it felt like too much of a foregone conclusion.  There's a simple lesson to be learned here... I've said it before, I'll say it again - stick with what you're good at... or you might lose even that.

Verdict: 2/5

Oh one thing though, I watched the trailer for the book... which makes it seem like the whole thing is a joke.  Which makes the writing some what more explicable, but brings up the new issue that if so, please let us in on it! So overall, not sure how much better that would make it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Predictably Solid Fluff

Still trekking slowly on, but took a break from the tome you will hear about in about a month (if I'm lucky) to read quite the opposite, another from Julia Quinn (second-timer on this prestigious blog, if you're counting :))  JQ has the distinction of being the only writer in her genre (well I guess also Gail Carriger) whose books I actually follow and put on reserve.  I suppose she's a typical romance writer, but she falls fairly firmly in the category of romance writers whose books actually have a story.  Maybe not much of a story, but they're not too long.  And the story is pretty much invariably a good one - this is romance we're talking about.  And unlike many other romances, the characters are usually pretty likable.  None of this, why in the world would anyone like *her*? JQ also tends toward the funny side, light and funny instead of overblown drama (usually anyway, this is romance after all so we can't expect always :)) One last thing about JQ? Interestingly enough, her books have tended more towards light and funny stories in recent years.  Her Bridgerton series started it I think, and it's really made for some solid improvement in her books.  I don't know if I would have continued had I started at the beginning of her writing career, but as it is, I totally look forward to her next book.

The latest one is Just Like Heaven.  I think I pretty much said all I have to say about it in the paragraph above.  It has the distinction about being about some recurring side characters from the Bridgerton series.  It's light and funny, has a little story to it, but not too much, and it took me about two hours to read - two enjoyable hours though.  The truth is, I guess good writing is good writing, and it's obvious in any genre, even one not normally associated with craftsmanship.

Verdict: 3/5