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Milkshake Butterfly
Thu, Apr. 8th, 2010 09:12 am
Presently reading Changes, the new Dresden Files

I would like to ask how it is possible that a book with the spoiler list I read could be boring me this hard in its opening... Oh god I'm at twenty chapters now. Twenty chapters and having to push past mental yawns. Seriously, I was prepared to be disgusted. I was prepared to roll my eyes hard enough at places to sprain them. (Well, okay, I have done that a few times.) I was expecting to be turning pages rapidly to find out what over-the-top thing he was going to do next. What I was not expecting was to be slogging. My god, the Merry Gentry books are faster reads than this. What the hell happened? Slow reads are not on his previous list of writerly sins.

Actually, I think I know what happened. This couldn't have been edited for more than the basics. He contradicts himself with disturbing frequency, the prose often puddles instead of flowing, people keep using physical and verbal tics that scream "this is characterization yes it is" while his character voices are blown halfway to hell and back, the chapters are positively weird as far as length goes, and the whole thing feels really flat. This needed someone with a loving chainsaw to go through it, badly. Also, he's hit the wall with a lot of things--his story formula and his first-person POV, just to name the two biggest ones--but won't let them go. As odditycollector put it, you get one scene per book where the character is stunned or otherwise rendered out of the action so he can't affect it but the writer can still tell us things that are happening. At twenty chapters in I've counted three, and she reliably tells me I've got a fourth coming.

Given that he's said he wants to make this a twenty-four or twenty-five book series (I don't even know what to say to that) and he's having this much trouble now, you kind of have to wonder what book, say, twenty will look like. Maybe Harry will gain the Doctor's weird Omniscient Near-Death Vision.

ETA: So for about a page the characters discuss mortgages, which is probably Jim Butcher's way of saying he needs us to help him pay his. In any case, one of the characters started complaining they were bored and that was it. I'm out for the day, and I haven't even gotten to the Part Where Jim Butcher Pushes One of My Personal Buttons.

Tags: ,
Current Mood: discontent wtaf


Thu, Apr. 8th, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC)

Damn, and I really liked the last one. *sigh*

Milkshake Butterfly
Thu, Apr. 8th, 2010 04:03 pm (UTC)

Well, before you go taking my review as gospel, I had serious problems with that one as well. But then, I knew who the traitor was going into it, and reading good mysteries has spoiled me with the idea that a mystery story should hold up even if you know Who Done It. That's not really a factor this time, though, although the spoilers gave me two things where I seriously cannot imagine not being pissed off when I get to them. (Must we go back to Harry who takes away the choices of the women around him? Must we?)* And I'm honestly fine with the two incredibly major ones, as it was about time for the series to start shitting or getting off the pot in several different respects--although oddly enough it's the circumstances the author used to set up both those things that I'm angry about, which says something. Also, leaving the end of the book on an unexpected development cliffhanger in order to sell his new anthology later this year is just low. Like, "Wow, suddenly I have a new appreciation for Mercedes Lackey and Laurell K Hamilton" low.

ETA*: Found and read the relevant bits; what the hell, I'm spoiled already. One was actually much less bad than it came across in spoilers. Still touch-and-go, but I think he mostly made it go. The other one, however, is frankly a Piss MB Off Over One of Her Causes moment. I wish I could rant about this without hitting the definite spoiler zone.

Edited at 2010-04-08 05:16 pm (UTC)

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Maya Tawi
Thu, Apr. 8th, 2010 08:56 pm (UTC)

He contradicts himself with disturbing frequency...

Yeah, I try to turn off my critical brain while reading TDF, but this one smacked me in the face last night: when he meets Odin (and I can't remember whatever name the dude's going by, because Doner Kebab keeps popping into my head instead), starts the paragraph by saying he wasn't particularly imposing/memorable/whatever-looking, then goes on to describe a massive dude with long gray hair and an eyepatch. Hell, I'd be imposed.

Milkshake Butterfly
Fri, Apr. 9th, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)

That entire chapter made odditycollector and I headthump so hard, because he's doing something magnificently stupid with it: he's trying to take something that a first-person POV character knows and ought to be thinking about constantly, and hide it from the audience so it'll be a surprise, and the only result is it makes Harry look like a bleeding idiot because you're there going, "Uh... it's Odin. And those are his ravens. We know this. You know this. Why are you... god you're a moron." (Actually, I spent so much time going "God you're a moron" this book that it's not even funny. He was getting better! He was learning to be smarter! Why did we have to backslide so much?)

The thing is, for a while there he was doing wonderfully well at selling you on the notion that you should go into this with your critical thought suspended. I don't even like Blood Rites very much, and I still came through it sailing just fine the first time because he opens with a nice action scene that immediately pops you into gear. But even his chapter openings and endings, which he's usually so spot-on with that I honestly recommend the series to people who are trying to learn how to do those, were off in this about half the time. And the end of the book moves so much better than the first half of the book that they don't entirely feel like the same thing--except for that Every Character Ever Must Appear Or Be Mentioned checklist he seemed to have going; that continued on.

It's got to be that it wasn't edited enough, and I keep thinking that must either be because he ran up against a time wall, in which case I really wish he'd ditched his perfect release schedule just this once (we would have forgiven him if the book had been as awesome as it had the potential to be), or else it was his Special Book that he'd been looking forward to for a long time and he wouldn't let people touch it enough. It's honestly weirdly frustrating to me not so much because I didn't like it but as because I'm sitting here going "But this could have been FUCKING AWESOME."

Although going in knowing about the anthology makes it pretty impossible not to look at that ending and go "You asshole" and mean it. If it had been a "and for a WHOLE YEAR that's it" moment I would have respected it--hated him in a different way, in a more JMS way, but respected it. But his sales figures are no way low enough to need that boost.

Consequently, I just effectively dumped cold water all over the post at Fandom Lounge (contains Spoilers, including that one I couldn't talk about here that pissed me off on a personal level), but I know there are other people out there feeling disappointed by it and wondering if maybe it's just them, because I had that reaction too until I went hunting. Well, okay, wondering if it was just me and Karen. Man this has made me love my friends more. Which, speaking of:

when he meets Odin (and I can't remember whatever name the dude's going by, because Doner Kebab keeps popping into my head instead)

I literally laughed out loud, and now any time I reread it will never be the same again, because yeah, the name is entirely too close to that. Thank you.

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