quiddity: (crazy)
Lauren ([personal profile] quiddity) wrote2011-06-28 12:03 pm
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Ilona Andrews

Okay, so, having read three of this woman's pieces now, I feel confident in saying... she's not awful, but she's not great. I don't understand how she could be a top-seller, though. She's got great ideas, but her execution is sloppy at best.

For one, there's no clearly established timeline. What freaking year is it, anyway? It's modern, but there's no year given. No months, either--I have no absolutely no sense of season. Might as well be walking around in a vacuum. We're supposed to believe that this world has been suffering from magical/non-magical swinging periods for hundreds of years, but we're never faced with weird historical facts about the world that could drive this home. For example, We're never told that "oh and the President of the US, ___, was one of the People." Or anything like that. And in a lot of ways, it plain just doesn't make sense. Why build metropolises, sky scrapers, etc, knowing the magic will bring it down? We're told that for several hundred years, there was no magic, and then suddenly, boom. But how suddenly/recently? If the magic shifts started recurring in the fifties, then things should be substantially different. So basically, time and history are left extremely vague. I would have liked something much more clear, concrete, and therefor believable like what Kim Harrison employs.

I find that the protagonists's POV is rather weak. There is too much presented as "statement," saying and not showing. Like, I didn't believe her at all when she said she was devastated by Greg's death, or that she had a crush on him. Why? Because there was no emotional resonance. Even for a character who is as detached and weird as Kate is, we should have seen it, felt it, at least in her recollections of how Greg made her feel. Frankly, there was no given *reason* for her to feel attracted to him, other than the fact that he was apparently good looking. We're simply told that he was her guardian, and not shown or explained to that he really looked after her, or that he had a good sense of humor, or just how deeply he cared for Kate/how it affected him. I felt like I was simply expected to believe it, or else there was stuff that just... wasn't making it onto the page that was in her head. Waiting for your readers to become psychic? Don't hold your breath.

I absolutely hate Kate's relationship with Curran. I feel like Curran is just like all of the other men in the book--oppressively, overly-masculine. Everything he does is tinged with an air of violence; Kate is frequently afraid of what he'll do to her. That, for me, does not compute into a steamy relationship. I also found it incredibly stupid and sexist that he had to come rescue her in the third book, but I'll get back to that in a bit. His personality is that of a control-freak, over the group he's supposed to be protecting, and everyone else who comes along, and we're told to excuse that because it's his "nature" as a lycanthrope. For once, I would like the encounter a paranormal series that doesn't use that as a carte-blank check for people to act however abusively and violently as they please. He also stalks and plays peeping tom on Kate, even going so far as to break into her house repeatedly, but apparently even though that was initially an issue even for Kate, we're going to overlook it/brush the creepiness of that under the rug. His attraction to Kate is purely, apparently, that he wants to dominate her/have sex with her because she told him no (which is Saiman's thing, too; these guys are real winners). He's a Don Juan who's been around the track so many times he should probably be checked for disease... and sadly, the other options were not much better. Bran was a jerk that didn't get the whole "personal space" thing. Saiman would probably have tried to rape her if she hadn't jumped off that building because he "couldn't control himself/was out of his mind from the magic." And Derek's a mini-Curran in the making. The only male character who didn't behave like a complete, psychotic asshole was Crest in the first book, and he has been resoundly disapproved of by the other men as not being "man" enough (why? because he's not stronger than Kate, and the man should "always" be stronger than the woman), being a "coward." And for what, not wanting to confront the woman who freaking accused him of being a necrophiliac rapist? Sorry, I wouldn't want to have to talk to that person, either, and if I thought my spouse would get her pity easier, I'd send them too. Call it manipulative if you want, but it's just plain sense. Basically, the book is just a gigantic clusterfuck of misogynistic messages lurking underneath a thin veneer of female empowerment.

Because, make no mistake, while Kate is supposed to be an empowered female heroine she's anything but. She does have some really kick-ass fight scenes, and she (mostly) holds her own against the other supernatural creatures, as long as they're not actually decently powerful. But every time she comes up against the main villain in a book, and sometimes even just the stronger "mini-bosses," she has to be rescued. And by who? Well, of course a man, and usually Curran. Seriously, every book. The only apparent solution, as Andrews sets it up, for Kate to destroy an otherwise unbreakable, unbeatable weapon, is to impale herself on it, with the idea that her blood can shatter the blade. Why not just make a non-mortal wound? Nope, gotta go all out, run herself through, because suicide/ultimate self-sacrifice is apparently the only way a woman can "win." And this is not her first moment of self-sacrifice, and just like the other times... Curran has to save her. She can't save herself, or have another woman save her, or be saved by some magical miracle in a world filled with magic. Nope, gotta be a man with a penis.

I don't think she even really makes the world itself in its present construction very coherent/believable. Most of the books' narration is spent during times of deep magic, which, granted, is when most of the action of a very action-oriented series of books occurs. But what's the point of saying that the world spends half its time in non-magic/tech, when the only thing we're ever presented is just how much more convenient it is to travel during magic? We're told that normal people might become monsters or whatever during the shift; we never see them when they're normal, or when that shift happens. Like. I would think it would be very intersting to see how average people try to adjust to the swings aside from just being concerned about their cars and phones working. If you knew you were going to turn into a mother freaking harpy when the shift happened, and your family did too, how might that, you know, affect your life and indeed all of society? Basically, Kate has very limited interactions with the world around her, and the narration's so narrowly focused on her cases and with such a dearth of description beyond it that the world might as well exist in a vacuum. I still have no real clue as to what's going on with the world outside of Atlanta.

Over all, I'd give the writing a C. Not as awful as Hamilton or Myers, but Andrews is definitely no Charlainne Harris or Kim Harrison. At this point, getting through the remaining two books is going to feel like a Herculean feat soaked in blood, sweat, and tears.

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