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Whatchoo say, Stephenie Meyer?

October 13, 2008

Guess what I found???

Okay, I didn’t so much as FIND it as took the last of my money and paid $45 to get an external USB hard drive enclosure and then put my supposedly-dying hard drive into it and then searched and searched and searched until I found…

THE MISSING REVIEWS!

Yes, the much-mourned missing reviews that I’ve been whining about for-ev-er.

Interestingly, there are less of them than I remembered.

But let’s get to the Meyer stuff, because I want to know what I wrote when I was only halfway in!

Twilight

Hyped books can go either way, I guess.  Either they’re absolutely brilliant and you feel bad about having taken so long to read them (Sloppy Firsts, anyone?), or else they’re total garbage and you wonder what all the fuss was about (Anita Blake, anyone?).

No, nevermind.  Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight is neither of these things.  It is not brilliant.  It is not garbage.  It’s a fabulous guilty pleasure.  Although the “heroine” of the piece, Bella, is about as likeable as your average teen in a South Jersey mall at any given time, she is absolutely eclipsed (oops, no pun intended) by Edward Cullen, the pale and brooding vampire who is basically an updated version of L.J. Smith’s Stefan without the Eurotrash whine.  (So he’s Stefan mixed with Damon.)  Meyer’s story begins with the utterly dislikable Bella moving in with her father under what originally seems to be mysterious circumstances, but is actually just because she wants to give her mother’s relationship some space.  Oh.  Meyer moves us in hypertime—I thought only a few days or a couple of weeks had passed, when really it was supposed to be months—and then finds her element: Rowling-like detail of the Bella/Edward relationship.  It is this play-by-play that takes Twilight deep into the realm of guilty pleasure.  The tension between Edward and Bella is delicious, and Meyer exploits this and captured the heart of every girl who missed Stefan and Damon and a few who didn’t.  I stayed up way too late reading this, but then completely forgot to order the next book for a week or two, so obviously it’s not killing me to be separated from the new supernatural supercouple, but the book was finally put in my hands a few days ago and I’m beginning it now.  I have little doubt that Meyer will keep me up again, although within the first few pages, I already want to smack the still—if not MORE–irritating Bella.  I guess it’s a testament to Edward Cullen and Meyer’s so-far decently-realized universe that I haven’t given up on Bella yet.  Although boy, does she make me want to.

Saw the preview for the movie.  Forgot whether I liked it already.  The book’s the equivelent of a popcorn flick, so that works for me.  I’ll probably eventually catch it On Demand.

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED FROM THIS?
-I haven’t really changed my mind on anything, except for whether I’ll go see the movie.  I think the movie might be able to distill the extraneous crap from the series, plus Cedric Diggory looking like crap on a stick.  I used “crap” too many times in that last sentence…
-Not really anything else.  But this wasn’t a LEARNING EXPERIENCE, per se.  Just a chance to laugh at myself.
MOVING ON, BECAUSE WE CAN.

New Moon

Stephenie Meyer uses the sequel to Twilight to appease the Bella/Jacob shippers and fulfill Jacob’s destiny as a werewolf.  Otherwise, there’s a lot of moping and…a lot more moping.  Plot?  Don’t need a plot.  Obviously, Meyer and her fans were so enchanted with Bella’s world that just plodding around in it for a couple of hundred pages is good enough for them.  There’s a little plot toward the end, but it’s really all set up for the next book.  I admit it, it was good enough for me too, although once again I wanted to smack Bella through the first three-quarters of the book.  Yes, I have already put a hold on Eclipse.  *sigh*

HA!  Look at me, getting all bitter already!  Go, little me in the past!  I’m so proud of you for not buying into the hype!

All right, here’s some other Week in Books stuff that was in the same file:

I read two Power Pack books, Misadventures in Babysitting and End of the Rainbow.  Power Pack is the starter team for little kids looking to read superhero adventures.  Instead of having to worry about the violence and questionable costumes when your little one’s just a tyke wearing a towel for a cape, you can sit them down with a Power Pack or a Gus Beezer.  Power Pack is four siblings—two boys and two girls, like the stepping stone families in literature of old—with superpowers, and their attempt to be superheroes and kids at the same time.  In both stories, the message is clear: family responsibility comes first, whether you’re babysitting your sibs while your parents have their anniversary dinner or fighting evil.  The only drawback to these books is that they appear to have their original covers, which announce that there will be a Franklin Richards (son of Reed and Sue Richards of the Fantastic Four) extra—but there is no Franklin Richards extra.  Kind of sad, because the Franklin Richards stories are obvious homages to Calvin and Hobbes and are completely adorable.  Unfortunately, they’re missing in both books, which is a real mistake on Marvel’s part either way you look at it.

BOOK VS. BOOK: Kenner vs. McCoy

It seems unfair to put Jodi McCoy, an author I’m unfamiliar with, up against Julie Kenner, who gives us the Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom—but then again, Kenner has her faults: she can’t stop referencing Buffy, the “Demon” books are uneven, she can’t stop referencing Buffy…but I couldn’t help but read these books back to back because they are both mythology-based supernatural romances.  I wanted a fight!  Author vs. author, plot vs. plot, romantic leads vs. romantic leads.

As it turns out, there was no contest.  Kenner knocked it out of the park in her first few pages.  Judi McCoy’s Almost a Goddess is one of those lame romances that makes you wonder how easy it must be to sell a romance novel in today’s saturated market—or get an editor’s job.  Why did no one mention to McCoy the difference between telling and showing?  Right off the bat, she lost my respect for having a character babble out some backstory instead of letting the story tell itself naturally.  Oh, you know how it goes.   It’s lazy writing, and I loathe it.  But it’s not like McCoy was doing anything to impress me with her plot, either—for some reason, there are three Muses in Greek mythology who never made it into the books, and they have to deal with a modernized Zeus (who, in a rare moment of originality, has the amusing email username of topgod) who gives them a chance to make up for their failures by…basically plopping them down on Earth and not telling them what they need to do.  Go flounder, ladies!

This book, which I assume is part of a trilogy, follows Kyra, the Muse of Good Fortune, who can’t have sex without getting involved, but then decides to get involved with one of the biggest tools in romance history, Jake Lennox, who eventually wants to marry her despite not knowing a darn thing about her.  There are no scenes in the book where the two just TALK (there are for the secondary romancers, though—lucky them, they get to be healthy) and I just can’t help but be utterly appalled by the ending, where Jake proposes to Kyra without having ever asked her about her life before they met or even her family.  Kyra does her own pathetic part by giving up her powers and immortality without saying goodbye to the sisters that she supposedly loves.  Sorry, but I’ve never met a guy I’d give up immortality for, and I’ve met my share of great guys, nor would I marry a guy who didn’t even ask me if I had a happy childhood, let alone whether I went to my prom, or if I’d ever been in love before—oh right!  There’s this part at the end where he’s all worried because he hasn’t told Kyra he’d been divorced.  Hm.  Maybe that’s one of those things you might wanna talk about with a girl before you propose, Jake—and maybe you could ask her if she’d ever been married either, or IF SHE HAS ANY SIBLINGS, OR A FAVORITE BAND OR A FAVORITE COLOR OR ANY EXISTENCE OUTSIDE OF YOUR BEDROOM OR WHATEVER YOU TOTAL FREAKIN’ TOOL.

Man, I hated this book.  There were so many good possibilities—can you imagine an updated Muse of Erotic Poetry?—but McCoy doesn’t even let us know how this Zeus-run world deals with a huge Christian population.  It’s called building a foundation, McCoy.  You didn’t do it.

Kenner, on the other hand, uses as her foundation the inaccuracy of the Greek myths—they weren’t gods and goddesses, they were superheroes.  This is the basis for Aphrodite’s Kiss, in which Zoe, a “halfling” (half-mortal, half-“Protector”), finds love in the midst of trying to control her powers and take down…well, she’s not really sure what, because she doesn’t quite know what’s going on a lot of the time, but that’s okay, because there’s a lot going on here.  Kenner balances her story well while creating likable characters (do you hear me, McCoy?).  The hero is the not-toolish George Bailey Taylor, who I wasn’t crazy about through about half the book, but I’d still choose him over King Tool Jake Lennox any day.  Or maybe I just like guys who like librarians.

Kenner’s book is a light, fun read that I recommend for the beach.  There are others set in the same world, and I’ll be checking them out sometime soon.

Little Lady, Big Apple

Melissa, I missed you!  Hester Browne brings back Melissa/Honey, owner of The Little Lady Agency, although slightly modified by restrictions put on by Melissa’s American boyfriend.  Once again, the intelligent and wonderful Melissa is competent and clueless when it comes to innuendo (the worst thing that happens to her in terms of her ignorance is mixed communication over the expression “Mile High Club”), proving again that women don’t have to do stupid, embarrassing things in the name of “plot.”  Browne has plenty to work with here, as Melissa follows her boyfriend across the Atlantic for a little vacation, leaving her poor agency in the hands of her flighty friend and her horrible, self-absorbed sister Allegra.  Also, the transatlantic baggage is more than Melissa’s luggage: Melissa finds herself in her boyfriend’s world, with the friends and experiences he shared with his ex-wife.  A lot of the store names and fancy products went right over my head as always, being a Target sort of gal who feeds her music addiction through gift cards and free legal downloads and her book addiction through the library (and, weirdly, was once accused by a guy about lying about the number of shoes I own because he had more), but the best thing about Melissa isn’t her knowledge of where to get the best suits, it’s her ability to make the reader feel good about herself, as if organization and etiquette are things everyone could have at their fingertips.  I swear, after I read one of Browne’s books, I dress better, I walk straighter, and I TOTALLY had the people at Friday’s change our table because they stuck us in the Arctic under the vents AGAIN, and I never would’ve had the guts but for Melissa.  I’ll be reading the third Little Lady book as soon as possible—and if no one there notices that Melissa MEANS Honey, I’m going to flip out, because that was my one problem with the book: Melissa is surrounded by Princetonites, Brownies, and Harvard alums.  None of these people took Ancient Greek?  Come on!  Everyone knows all the truly classy people take Greek…

Gina Biggs’s Red String is one of those manga I really hate: all the elements are there and are shoved together so quickly it’s like reading the vomited whole of every other manga the author has read.  Maybe it’s because an author with the name “Gina Biggs” writing about a girl in Japan screams “otaku” to me, but I went in twitchy and stayed twitchy through the whole thing.  Oh, it’s all there: the cherry blossoms in the background, the friends you can’t tell apart at first, the Bad Boy hovering in the background, connecting only with Our Heroine.  It’s like a bad Gilmore Girls knock-off through the filter of Kare Kano.  Throw in a ridiculous arranged marriage McGuffin and you have Red String.  Give it a pass, people.  And Ms. Biggs?  Try letting your readers give a crap about the characters before doing things with them.  I hear it helps.

Cantarella by You Higuri is a highly fictionalized account of the life of Cesare Borgia who, in this version, has had his soul sold to the devil in exchange for his father’s rise to power as Pope.  His sister Lucrezia is an innocent soul who is conflicted by her romantic feelings for her brother, and there’s an assassin to provide a love triange with the brother and sister.  Higuri’s art is lovely but the story often falters, especially in the third volume, where the politics.  Higuri is best with the drama and demon conflict.  I find the translation off-putting at times, as it seems that the peasants often get slangy in a modern way, and sometimes I grow annoyed with the plays for humor among the upper class—I just can’t imagine a princess making a o_O face, you know?  Sometimes there’s silly where I think there should be haughty.  But for the most part, it’s a fairly entertaining read.  I suppose I’ll continue with it, if the library has it around.

**

Well, there you go.  I hope you’re happy now.  I am. 😀

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