Tag Archive: Spoilers?


Fall Into Books 10/8

FIB-lovable-villians

Hey, remember that big post I had about how the SINless books are criminally underrated? Yeah, the character of today might be a big part of that for me. Heads up for spoilers for Nanoshock, they’re past the Spoiler.

Spoiler Alert

So, sometimes authors try to have a twist at the end with their antagonists. A character who was set up as an ally to the hero or as a protagonist in their own right turns out to be a card carrying member of team bad guy in the last ten pages. Sometimes they give the shocked protagonist a speech about how obvious it had to have been and how badly the protagonist must suck at heroing to not have realized. Sometimes it’s a motive rant. It seldom fits with their prior characterization.

Then there’s Muerte.

Muerte is something special where eleventh hour antagonists are concerned, largely because she’s incredibly well set up. It’s the kind of things that, on a first read, are really easy to figure are setting her up as a red herring. She knows too much about Riko’s situation. The deal she’s offering is way, way too good.

But wait, here’s a guy from that crew Muerte is part of and that Riko used to be part of and he’s got people trying to kill her. She kept running with Riko after Riko called her a traitor and shot her. She’s saving the team’s lives and being one of maybe three people willing to work with our protagonist.

She’s a bright bit of fun among characters dealing with serious conflicts.

It’s easy to let the lead up fade into the background and just enjoy the ride while Muerte jokes around and is a useful team member for team protagonists. She has information she shouldn’t have but she’s supposed to be one of the best fixers in world so, if someone else has it anyway, why wouldn’t she? Those faceless corp goons seem unduly afraid of her, she shrugs it off and plays it cool.

K. C. Alexander uses all these suspicious moments to build to a reveal that feels legitimately like a betrayal from a character that’s genuinely easy to like, an antagonist that I walked away from Nanoshock wanting to see get her own series.

So, yeah, Muerte. She’s wicked. She’s awesome. And she’s a ton of fun.

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It’s Not My Favorite

So, it’s been more than a couple of days, hasn’t it? Sorry about that. Work stress picked up again and I had to get most of my car’s air conditioning set up replaced, so that wasn’t fun. I have a review though. It is pretty spoilery, so heads up there, but here it goes.

Gwen’s life is in shambles except for her business as The Organizer, Rachel is in the process of breaking up with her girlfriend, and they have to help their parents move again. It follows that Gwen has always harbored dreams that her parents weren’t actually her parents and she would find a better more supportive family elsewhere. These dreams seem to be realized when she finds a set of pictures of a younger version of her mother that linked to a painter, Daniel Gregory, she of course leaps at the idea that he is her real father.

It’s Not My Favorite by Rue is, well, not my favorite by a long shot. It bills itself as a sort of romantic comedy featuring the Hutchinson sisters Gwen, who can organize anyone’s life but her own, and Rachel, out and proud to everyone except her parents. I admit, I was a little hesitant to buy it because Gwen’s shoddy love life got higher billing than Rachel’s anything, but it was listed as LGBT and on sale so I gave it a shot. I probably shouldn’t have.

Gwen is the focus of the book for nearly its entire run whether directly as the point of view character or indirectly as the object of another character’s concern in their chapter. This gets really old really quickly, because I didn’t start the book to read about Gwen and her running away from adult life because she didn’t get what she wanted. I didn’t want Gwen’s adventures in going half the world away from her problems and shtupping some English dude while her poor love interest tries to find her to fix things. To be honest, the whole book would be a lot more palatable if I’d started it expecting that or if her running away from everything had any notable consequences. She leaves her sister, who is dealing with relationship problems of her own, the dude who is inexplicably falling for her, and her business with next to no warning and very little prep. That bothers me, I know this is basically a romance novel, but as a retail associate I and everyone I work with has to give at least two weeks notice if we need or want to be off, so seeing a professional more or less abandon her business because she doesn’t get a new father/brother kind of pisses me off.

All of that comes down to me not liking Gwen in the least and, probably the bigger writing issue, not caring what happens to her. Not caring about, essentially, the main character means I don’t care about the romance. I really didn’t care about the romance. It was forced and badly written and just didn’t work for me. Just, yes, he’s hot and she thinks he might be her father/brother, he has feelings for her that he hasn’t felt since his wife died and she’s awkward. Then we get the trip halfway around the world where he follows her and then, when it looks like she’s with another guy, falls off the wagon. Then they agree to be friends and immediately fall into bed for a day. It’s like the book was made by throwing clichés at the wall and seeing what stuck.

But what about Rachel? She got nearly equal billing didn’t she? Well, yes she did. Her entire story arc took something like five chapters from “I think she’s cheating” to coming out to her parents. That’s it. She was interesting enough while she was the focus, but I’m not giving the book any points for barely having her in it.

So the only remaining thing is, how does the book rate? It’s Not My Favorite is very true to its name, while there were points where the writing was legitimately entertaining they were few and far between. Given that I got it because it featured a lesbian protagonist and then mostly ignored her for her sister’s relationship drama and trip across the world, I was severely disappointed. A more honest blurb would help with that a ton. It also has kind of a non-ending what with being the first in a trilogy, some stuff gets tied up but not enough and I didn’t care about the characters enough for it to feel satisfying in any meaningful way. So, yeah, while the book wasn’t unreadable It’s Not My Favorite by Rue earns a two out of five.

After I don’t remember how long and don’t feel like checking to see, I return triumphant with a review of a book set in the world of one of my favorite video games. I did wind up having a few minor spoilers in the review, but it isn’t for anything big.

Valya is part of a group of mages on the run from their Circle, trying to save themselves from rogue templars by seeking refuge with the Grey Wardens. When they arrive the Warden Commander asks them to prove their worth through research, and find something anything of use to the Grey Wardens, so he has a reason to keep them there.

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In Liane Merciel’s Dragon Age: Last Flight we have a book that feels like it should tell two separate stories, one of Valya the elven mage in the present and one of Isseya the elven mage, sister to the hero of the fourth blight. It feels that way, but then we get woefully little of Valya’s story in favor of letting Isseya’s story take over. Ideally both stories would have been entwined in such a way that each supported or even mirrored the other to some degree and lead to more development for all the characters involved . I actually kind of wish that the author had been able to split this into two books so we could get Isseya’s story in better detail, instead of with the big time jumps that I’m sure are from the diary format, and then the next book with Valya finding the diary, getting to know some of the other characters mentioned, and then going on her hero’s journey.

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The story as it’s told is a nifty piece of lore, giving us the reason that griffins no longer exist in Thedas and giving the reader a story of the fourth blight. It gives the sense that the blight has been dragging on for years. Some of the battles are amazingly well done. Unfortunately it falls flat because of the switches between time periods and the time jumps in Isseya’s side of the story. The diary framing ties the story entirely to Isseya and the people directly around her at any given point in time, normally this isn’t a bad thing, but in this case it restricts the scale of the story making it feel less epic. It also has the tendency to make Isseya herself kind of flat, we aren’t reading diary pages with the book, but since it focuses so heavily on her trying to make the griffins more effective and the repercussions of that it leaves out a lot of who she is as a character. There are moments when character shines through but , again, they just serve to make me want more. Another facet of the focus being so heavily on Isseya’s story is Valya being there almost entirely to bring Isseya’s story full circle. She solves the puzzle, but we aren’t really shown her doing it. She befriends one of the former Templars, but we get one conversation when they first meet and the next time we see her they’ve been friends for months. It’s frustrating and it left me not caring about that set of characters.

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All that said, the story is enjoyable and it is a nifty addition to the world of Dragon Age. It has moments where it gets bogged down in itself, which slows the plot, but brings focus to the hopelessness of the character’s situation. And when Merciel chose to focus on other characters for any length of time, she did a really good job quickly developing them and making them interesting, I’d like to read more of her if she does that in most of her books.

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So, over all, I enjoyed Dragon Age: Last Flight and would probably read Liane Merciel again, but the book has some serious issues with over focusing. It’s a decent addition to the world’s lore that could have implications for Dragon Age: Inquisition or a later game, but that isn’t required reading for either one. I give it a three out of five.

On Alternate Universes

Don’t run off too quickly on this one, but I’ve been watching the Rizzoli and Isles TV show a lot recently and it’s left me thinking about the differences and similarities in the characters.  Same thing with the Injustice comic to the main DCU. Possible spoilers ahead kids, I’m gonna get to ifing.

 

I like alternate universes, especially when fan cannon comes into play, seeing how little changes effect the characters and their world.  Like, what would happen if the Surgeon, the first Rizzoli and Isles villain, had died in the first book instead of being paralysed at the end of the second.  That would have definitely effected the second book, there would have been no Surgeon to have an Apprentice, so there would have been no need for Agent Dean to be called in, so he and Rizzoli wouldn’t have met at that time or under those circumstances.  They probably wouldn’t have had sex or gotten married. This could have resulted in Rizzoli taking longer to cool down.  I’m not even sure how that would have effected her working with Isles.

 

Change it a little more, make Isles more similar to her TV persona, more open and friendly but socially uncomfortable.  How does it change things?  The characters in the books aren’t as friendly as their TV counterparts and Isles was introduced in the second book, when Rizzoli was still very abrasive and closed off.  While not a ton is done with Rizzoli and Isles’ non-work interactions in the books, by the end of the last book it is more than safe to say that they’re friends even if to a less touchy extent than on the show.  How would a different Isles  change that?

Heck, switch gears.  What happens if, instead of Batman, we have Detective Bruce Wayne of the GCPD?  He’s still richer than the Catholic church, his back story is still more or less the same, same intense training before returning to Gotham, he just decides to become a cop to clean up his city rather than Batman.  It could still have the Robins in various ways, Dick Greyson as a junior detective who gets partnered with Bruce would work easily, especially since he was a police officer in some of the older Nightwing comics. Jason Todd could show up as either another partner, if they wanted Dick to move to another precinct or division, or an informant of Bruce’s who later becomes suspect and gets killed by the Joker as a result.  Barbara Gordon and Tim Drake would make awesome CSI type characters.  There’s a ton that could be done with that, both as a Gotham Central esque book focusing on that and to see what would happen with the rest of the DCU’s heroes without Batman there.

They did something similar with The Nail, where Superman wasn’t found by the Kents and was instead raised by and Amish couple.  He didn’t become Superman until much later on than in the main world and his world reflects that.  I really like seeing stuff like that even if it doesn’t have a lasting effect on the main continuity.

That’s about it for now, I could go on about stuff like this for novels and novels and more.