Storm Front

Jun. 9th, 2009 12:13 pm
greek_amazon: (Ow my head)
[personal profile] greek_amazon
Number three!

Just Finished?
Storm Front [Book One of the Dresden Files] by Jim Butcher. (Urban Fantasy)

Reason for Reading? Cause I was sure it was gonna be light reading/fluff, and I got it for free.

Was it Good? Eeeehhhhhnnnnnnn......... *Makes a 'so-so' motion with her hand*

Why? It's got a lot of the problems I associate with urban fantasy (like clich├ęd characters, over-use of one-liners and the feeling that the author is writing in a modern setting in order to avoid doing research rather than because they have a story to tell that can ONLY be told in a modern setting) combined with the fact that the author needs to constantly remind you that his main character is a MAN even if he does less fighting and more Latin than the typical MAN, as though a name like "Harry" would have us thinking anything else. If I thought it was just the character reminding us, I'd be more forgiving, but I get the impression that this is a result of what the author feels he has to point out. [Frankly, after reading this book, I feel like I've learned more about the AUTHOR and his preferences/insecurities than I did about any of the CHARACTERS. This happens now and again, most frequently with fanfiction, and it always makes me feel vaguely uncomfortable while I'm reading.]
Also, the character isn't just a MAN, he's an ANTIHERO - all caps because it feels like the author is driving the point home with a railroad spike to the skull. Likewise, the women in his books are WOMEN (italicized to indicate feminine grace!) even the tough female cop, who is, indeed, a TOUGH FEMALE COP. Personally, I find it frustrating when people write "male" and "female" characters as opposed to just "people." But that's me.
I also felt as though this book was thoroughly under-researched, and I found myself dwelling on incredibly minor things that are so minor as to be useless, but BECAUSE they were such minor things that would take no time to learn about, bothered me even more. (For example, there are companies that clean up after messy crime scenes, and anyone working with the cops would bloody well know that.)

So I basically found this book annoying. But I found it the sort of annoying that I could complain about in an animated fashion, and that, in its own way, is worth the frustration of actually reading the book.
And, as I suspected, the book is light and fluffy, the sort that you can read in the background - you needn't focus all (or even most) of your attention on it.

What's it about? It is about a wizard private investigator who is in the yellow pages and sometimes consults for the police. He is called in on a murder case, one that seems to have magical origins. Inevitably, he becomes involved in the case as more than just an investigator, and HIS LIFE IS ON THE LINE. Oh, and don't forget, he's in the yellow pages. Under "wizard".

Who's your favourite character? Uh, the mob boss, Johnny Marcone. He's the only one that I was even remotely interested in learning about.

Favourite secondary character Johnny Marcone *is* a secondary character.

Would you recommend this book to others? Not really? Maybe if you're looking for fluff, or you're just really bored.

Anything Else? This book is written in first person, and is the sort of book that explains why first person writing tends to have such a bad rap. In the last four pages I felt like I was watching an after school special narrated by a teenager who's learned a valuable lesson about drugs. (Which hey, Harry kind of did!)
I may read more of the books later, because I'm curious to see if they get any better. Likewise, I'm kind of curious about the TV show based on the books - I wonder if it's any better as well. I hope it is.

This certainly isn't the worst book I've ever read (That dubious honour belongs to Projection which was so bad that I made a bunch of my friends read it.) But it's certainly not one of the best books I've read, either.

Up Next?
Not sure. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens maybe, though something by Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix, or the Witches of Eilean (sp?) series is probably more likely.

Why? Well, originally Oliver Twist was next on my list, but after book one of the Dresden Files, I feel like I need to read some good urban fantasy (Like Gaiman's Neverwhere) or at least a work/author I know I'll enjoy more than Butcher's work. (I leave you to make your own puns at that.) I can't always count on that with 'classic' stories. There are some I could read a million times over (The Odyssey, The Phantom of the Opera, White Fang to name a few) but there are an equal number that put me to sleep or piss me off.

Hopes? Gotta be better than what I just read.

Want to know who's read this book before you? Nope, since I've listed several books. But if anyone has a preference as to what I should read either because they liked/didn't like it, or because they want to know whether the books is worth picking up (in my illustrious opinion, of course) I'd be happy to hear suggestions. :D

Date: 2009-06-09 06:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
If you do get a chance to watch the show I think you'll pretty much love Bob (Bob is totally the reason to watch the show, I don't care if it's called "the Dresden Files"). I wished it would've lasted longer and I was interested in reading the books- I like books that take fantasy to a modern setting but now I'm kinda going ''.

Date: 2009-06-09 10:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think it would be neat to read a short story "A week in the life of Bob" or something like that. XD

I wouldn't let my review stop you from reading the books if you had wanted to get in to them, especially since I am more particular about urban fantasy than I am about almost any other genre. (When I like it I really like it, and everything else just kind of blends into this urban fantasy mush in my head.) That said, I got the impression that had I been watching a show instead of reading a book, I would have liked it more.

However, if you're looking for a good piece of urban fantasy, I'd suggest Sunshine by Robin McKinley. As long as you don't mind vampires. :3

Date: 2009-06-09 07:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've read the entire Dresden series and rather liked it. It is an amusing detective novel pastiche, which would be woefully incomplete without corny one-liners and long inner monologue sessions. As with most series, the characters develop over the course of the books.

Date: 2009-06-09 10:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I don't mind long inner monologue sessions, but I just found Harry (and really the "world" of the book) rather irritating.
But it is the first in the series, so... some leeway, of course. XD To each their own in the end, though, and all that.

Date: 2009-06-10 06:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The world gets developed in considerable depth in further books. I wouldn't advise you buying the books. The public library has them all. Our library is ridiculously comprehensive! Also, you lie. The worst books you've ever read, like every graduate of Grant Park, is Ethan Frome!

Date: 2009-06-10 01:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I never had to read Ethan Frome...

Date: 2009-06-09 08:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
May i recommend The Secret History of Moscow as the next book you should read, since it is what might be considered good urban fantasy.

Date: 2009-06-09 10:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Why that's not from my suggestions at all!

I'll keep it in mind, but it won't be next.

Date: 2009-06-10 01:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I haven't read any of those books yet, but I'm glad you wrote this review because now I'd rather not waste my time (a couple people have recommended them). I can't stand it when the character goes off on some diary-entry self-examination. RA Salvatore books come to mind - he also does that SHE IS WOMAN thing, where it's not even "she" but "The woman ran..." and "The woman felt.." and inevitably, "The woman randomly took off all her clothes and jumped So-and-so, which automatically equals epic romance."

Date: 2009-06-10 04:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's not even like a diary entry, it's like he's talking to you as if it were a conversation. Like you sat down in a bar beside him, said "What did you do last week?" and were ...treated to a 300+ page answer. Because he's just cool enough to be able to do that. It's very annoying.

Anyway, yeah, I wouldn't suggest them to you. It's not torture to read them once you've picked them up, but not picking them up is a better choice, really.

You know, I picked up an R.A. Salvatore book a few years back - one of the Drizzt ones, cause of all the hype - and it... I know I started reading it. I know I did. It had one of my fancy bookmarks in it to prove it. But I can't remember a damn thing about it. At ALL. That NEVER happens to me. I'm the sort that can stop reading a book part way through and pick it up six years later like I only put it down a week ago.
Good or bad, I couldn't tell ya, but his stuff certainly doesn't seem to stay in my memory. (But now I'm curious. You're the second person in as many days to suggest that Salvatore's books aren't to be touched with a ten foot pole.)

Nothing turns me off books faster than the SHE IS A WOMAN thing - and is it me, or does it seem like when you read books featuring WOMEN (as written by men) or MEN (as written by women) that you can't help but be subjected to whatever the author's kinks/fetishes/preferences are?

Also, what else could there be to epic romance?

Date: 2009-06-12 12:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have noticed trends from some authors - one that I've read lately has in both books now paired an 18-year old heroine with men that are 32 and 55. Singly...I wouldn't have thought much of it, but both books went out of their way to point out how unusual the pairings were, and I was like...obviously SOMEONE has a thing for older men.
I guess it'd be hard though, to write a fantasy about a supposedly ideal member of the sex you're attracted to without revealing your own fantasies. XD

Salvatore is maybe worth the read (of at least of one book) just to see what everyone is so excited about (his "perfectly choreographed" fight scenes), and then laugh at it.


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