Friday, January 25, 2013

Archon

So it straight up kills me to write this review. I'd been glancing at this book on the shelves of the bookstore for months. The cover is gorgeous, the summary hooked me from the first time I read it and the ideas Benulis puts forward are ones that hit every point in something I would usually love to read. The first third of the books straight up confused me - the protagonist Angela dreams of Angels and no matter how hard she tries can't die. She's a Blood head which is a read head who is possibly a witch, and also possibly "the Ruin" who is the vessel for a dead Angel come back to life.  The above two aspects firmly bring to mind Constantine and Supernatural to me, and both of those pre-dispose me to like this book.

So help me I couldn't, and I tried. I tried SO HARD to like this book. The characters weren't overly likeable to me and I ended up really wishing that there was going to be some sort of thematic shift where the bad guys were actually the good guys because the Djinn's and Deamons were fantastic. So the thing about the mythology behind the book is that I have 0 expectation of angels being noble - but there was a bit too much of a glaring gap between the angels/demon nobility gap for me to get behind. Angela is fairly emotionally flat, and it makes it a little hard to get behind her as a heroine. Her history was touched on, but it's an awkward mix of either too much or too little background to give you an understanding of her.

The awkward part for me is that even though I was pretty thrown by the fact that even though I really disliked the book, I really did like Benulis as a writer - she tends heavily towards a Gothic feel, and I have absolutely no issue with it because she does it well. The middle of the book is really interesting, and as much as I hate to say it I wonder if the book being the first of a series, or maybe having too heavy of a copy edit had something to do with the beginning and the end feeling and reading almost like they were two different books. That also being said, I think the editor needed to take a bit of a heavier hand so, take that for what you will.  I will also say it's clear Benulis has an excellent imagination, and the subtlety and I did like that she didn't make romance a big part of the plot. So well done there. But the fact is the book seemed unnecessarily complex, in a way that didn't add anything to it. Another reviewer said it best - the setting outshines the characters - the back story to that would be fascinating.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

Sometimes there are those books. You know, those books that you pick up on a whim because you like the cover (yes, really, I judge books by their covers. This is not news) and then you read them and all of a sudden you realize that this author gets it.  I'm basically going to fight waxing poetic about this book because I *hate* those reviews. Also because this book is better than that. I don't know if it's the biblio-tech focus this book has, my (not-so) secret desire to work for Google, my also (not-so) secret desire to own a book store, my fascination with immortality questors (this is a real thing) or just Sloan's way of writing that led to my first literary crush in forever but go buy this book.

So here's my dirty librarian secret: I've never read the Twilight series or the 50 Shades series. Believe it or not, not because I think they're useless, but because I just don't get it. Believe me, I'm all over the light-reading bandwagon, I've talked at length about how I love Urban Fantasy other arguably light reads (I think there's more to them then that, but that's preference and bias).  The thing is I think there are other books that are better, and if you could see my reading list you'd see why I just keep putting it off and then, oh oops, don't care.  I can not emphasize this enough. If there were any justice in the world, this book would skyrocket to the top of the book charts and everyone would read it and love it.  It's a book about hackers, and immortality, and bookstores, and living, and dreaming, and just plain figuring your shit out while you try and grow up. It's a fun book, well written, and I think the best way I can put it is it's fantastically real. Maybe it's a generational thing, maybe it's that the book touched a lot on my graduate degree, but it's a winner.

Basically I'm kicking myself for taking so long to grab it. Guys, I bought it. I work in a library, get sent ARC's and I not only bought it, but if I lose it, I'll buy it again. Do yourself a favour, and go buy it.