Thursday, March 22, 2012

Almost, But Not Quite, More of the Same

Remember way back when, through the fog of time, this blog was a newborn babe, and I did other things besides reviewing every book I read, methodically? It was a short but sweet time, glorious in its variety.  Oh how I miss it... but nothing remains the same, not forever anyway... All right, enough nostalgia.  The point is, one of the first reviews I did, about a book I had read before I started the blog, was The Spellman Files #4.  Last year (I think it was last year), I read and reviewed Lisa Lutz's stand-alone, and this year, I'm back to #5.  I think we were all a little surprised that there is a #5, since #4 ended off just fine from my POV.  But she chose to write a #5, and if I have gleaned properly from the website, there's more where that came from!  Sarah Sp. has not been happy with her since at least #4, and I think #3 too, so she wasn't very enthusiastic about the continuation.  My feeling was that Isabel was with Henry, and all grown up, so why go further? And yet, here we are.

Two years into the future that is (and we actually *are* two years in the future, how funny :)) Isabel is with Henry, Rae is in college, and the ex-convict Isabel liberated in the last book has taken up residence with the Spellmans.  Isabel herself has not regressed in maturity, I'm happy to say.  Other than the slight irregularities that are a product of her personality (and perhaps Lisa Lutz's) she appears a stable, relatively successful adult.  The rest of her family is up to their usual antics, but they were never as crazy as Isabel.  So to start off with, less self-destructiveness and just as much harmless zaniness as before.  I think it's a change for the better.  The plot itself is mostly harmless too.  I have to say I don't have that much of a memory for previous plots, which suggests they are mostly of the same nature as this one - lots of meandering threads that get somewhat loosely enmeshed towards the end.  I think it's Spellman as usual, for most part.

But Spellman as usual can get irksome after 5 books.  Rae is definitely not aging gracefully.  And I find the unnecessary rudeness and shenanigans... unnecessary.  And maybe it's just this book, but I feel like I can very much hear Lisa Lutz writing.  Isabel is funny when we're laughing at her and her insane family.  But if Isabel is right in her "quirky" view of the world, even a little bit ... well what's there to laugh about?   I guess what's left is a certain cleverness in the antics.  I definitely stayed curious the entire book, through all the plot twists and jumps.  There is the little annoyance of *constant* event-droppping (just coined the term) where all we hear is "we'll get to that later".  If *you* know, we want to know too! Get that through your head.  But I guess it's just par for course with the Spellmans... even though I bet Lisa Lutz could write a whole book in chronological order and I would still find it interesting.  Really, she should try it.

ANYWAY... why am I going on and on about this? It's not like I care about any of this (ok not like I care *most* about any of this :)) What's going on with Isabel and Henry? Of course that's the question on all your minds :)) And first, let me say that, in book #5, I would have been just fine with letting I&H fade into the background as a mature couple - their story was well-played out already.  What I am NOT fine with is them breaking up! I will however forgive LL if/when they get back together in #6.  I'm betting they will, because otherwise, what was the point of breaking them up? To be realistic? I mean, really? I'm definitely going with engagement in a book or two.  But even with that, I'm not sure we needed a breakup now... Oh well, what's done is done.  'Twere well it be repaired forsooth.

Verdict: 3/5 (I don't know, I just didn't find it at all hard to read)

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