Monday, May 26, 2008

Book: Storm Front

OK, OK, for what it is, it wasn't that bad. But my expectations were low, low, low. And what it is is this: a pulpy, formula, detective novel with a silly supernatural twist. I'd recommend it if you were in a hospital waiting room or stuck in an airport overnight or something. Good for when you're tired and distracted and can't take anything too demanding.

Although, I almost abandoned it quite a few times. So I'm not sure I'd recommend it at all.

To be totally honest, something about this book brings out complete cattiness in me. I want to kind of rip it to shreds. The only thing holding me back is knowing that I would feel awful if the author somehow found this review, or if it were someone's favorite series or something.

But how likely is that? Therefore...

OK. I know what this is. It's the male-author version of the Anita Blake series. Except that Anita truly was a badass (stuck in a terribly written book), and this Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden (yes, named after three magicians, please control your eye rolling) seems to be kind of a wuss. Except when he's blasting off doors and smashing overgrown scorpions with his mind. The man can barely pay his rent, but he's capable of taking down a mob boss with only his rod and staff and his wizard's mind. Right. Because... he's got principles? Because the White Council will take him down if he doesn't play by the rules? Because... the author needed a down-on-his-luck, self-deprecating-but-we-love-him-anyway, oooh-look-at-all-his-hidden-powers main character?

The author's name is Jim Butcher -- now, if you had a name like that, wouldn't you be tempted to write cheesy, pulpy paperbacks, too? Although I think I would go for straight horror, if my last name was Butcher. But, check him out. I love websites like this. After all, you can "Game With Jim" right online! OK, OK. He sounds like a nice guy, actually. I'm just letting all my cattiness come right on out. Jim, if you're reading this, I'm sorry. I'll take you out for a cup of coffee.

All right. What did I like about the book? Why did I finish it? Number one is because I hate abandoning books, especially if they are quick reads like this. I guess I had to find out what happened, after all. Also, I wanted to find out if this, like the Anita Blake books, was so-bad-it's-good (since we have the entire series) or if it was just... ehn. But did I like anything about the actual book? Hmm. Well, I guess, not really. I didn't find the main character, Harry Dresden, very appealing or sympathetic. The police-chief foil was kind of a bore. The bad guy character was predictably evil and stupid. The supernatural elements were cartoony and silly. (a talking, sulking, spirit in a skull? An acid-spitting demon who looks like a toad -- because Mr. Dresden "can't think of any other way to describe it except that it was toad-like"? An accidental ingestion of a love potion? Sigh.) Oh wait, I did like something. There was one excellent scene where the vampire (of course there's a vampire, although no actual vampire sex, shoot...) loses its sexy-woman disguise and is revealed in all her demon-y glory as something truly hideous. I kind of liked that... although it was somewhat wrecked by the fact that he kept the bat-like beast in a slinky black dress and heels. Urgh. Jim, did you have to? But, it was still a pretty okay scene.

Oh, there were murders, too. Supposedly grisly murders, hearts being blown out of chests, that sort of thing. In the first murder, the couple was found in flagrante delicto, but with their hearts completely burst out of their chests. But she was still sitting upright, hands on his chest. Um, immediate rigor mortis? Wouldn't the blast, uh, make her fall over?

All right, all right. Obviously these books have fans, they were featured in a prominent display at the new Borders here in Alameda. I checked out some reviews on Amazon and people seem to enjoy them quite a bit. I guess (grudgingly) that they could be viewed as fun, light reading (much in the vein of my own favorite crack novels, which I also could very easily rip to shreds because they are so bad.). Maybe it's just that I don't particularly love detective novels, and the supernatural elements seemed kind of cheesy to me. And, let's face it, there's no vampire sex, and hey, what is a cheesy, bad book without some vampire sex to make it worth reading? Maybe I'm just bitter.

And now I come face-to-face with my terrible addiction. We have all 9 of these books (someone gave them to Terri for her store). After all I've written, after all the eye-rolling while reading the book, after impatiently zipping through it so I could read something else, I am still tempted to pick up the next book in the series. Why? Because we have them! It's a series! Maybe they get better!

Then I look at the gigantic pile of other books I have sitting by my bed, worthy books, books I've drooled over and can't wait to read, and I'm like, get hold of yourself, woman!

I think I need an intervention.

For a review that is slightly more generous than I, but still echoes my sentiments, click here. The guy almost has me reconsidering and checking out the next book... just to see if he does get any better.


Alex said...

I don't think you should feel guilty about ripping a book to shreds. I've known authors who get a kick out of bad reviews, actually. Unless they're highly self-deluded, I think most authors know when they're writing pulp and don't confuse it with Shakespeare.

On the other end of the spectrum, I just read "Scorpio Rising" by RS Vliet. Did you read that one for book club? I LOVED it. What an amazing talent. Books like that make my whole love/hate relationship with books worth the effort.

Daphne said...

I haven't read it, I'll add it to my list. If Alex loved it, I know it's got to be good! :)