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WiB 2010: Fall Edition, Week 2

September 18, 2010

Light week, I think.  From what I can tell, I only read three books this week, and one of them was read this morning.  I guess that makes sense cuz I was running around all week trying to get other things done but…really?  TWO books over the course of like 5 days?

The first was Julie Garwood’s Guardian Angel, which suffers from being exactly like all the other Garwood books in these things.  And the “plot” takes place almost entirely off-page (another Garwood flaw), giving us tons of time to wallow in the courtship of the main characters.  Eh.  I’m getting over it.  It was a nice trip down memory lane while it lasted–and there’s at least one more Garwood in the to-read case–but now that I’ve remembered the path, it seems less fresh and interesting.

The second was Jim Butcher’s 12th Dresden Files novel, Changes. From its first line to its cliff-hanging ending, Butcher’s talents come together for an exciting, adrenaline-filled thrillride that kept almost everyone I know who read it up way past their bedtimes.  Butcher systematically destroys or alters almost every aspect of Dresden’s life in this book, and my only complaint in this is that there’s one punch I feel he pulled (where a character could’ve died but didn’t).  I actually have one more complaint about the book, but it’s entirely minor: that in Butcher’s desire to make each book accessible to a new reader, he info-dumps, which would be fine except that Changes is not a book that can handle the depth of backstory necessary to draw a new reader in.  For example, Butcher gives us a throwaway line about Mab (it’s something like “Yes, that Mab”) but mentions other characters like Nicodemus without any identifiers.  As I said, a minor complaint, but it’s my hope that in future books, Butcher gives up on pretending that his books can be stand-alones and limits the amount of exposition in his future publications.

The other aspect of Changes that I found interesting is that it’s the first time I’ve seen an author write something that is obviously based on the Joss Whedon “season arc” format of writing.  While this is something you could argue happens in any series, Changes is so obviously a turning point, what I would generally refer to as a “Sweeps Week episode” if we were talking about television.  Other series may up the stakes as time goes on, but the Dresden Files has definitely presented itself in that format, especially if Butcher’s guess of “20 books” is accurate.  (The usual length of a television season is twenty-two episodes.)   Butcher has arguably shown in the past with his writing that Whedon is one of his influences–and if Murphy’s a non-powered Buffy, we should probably have words about portrayals of powerful female characters being downgraded from being the lead, although at this point in time it’s nice just to HAVE powerful female characters still existing ANYWHERE–and Changes cemented my belief of that.  I said in my review of Turn Coat that the Dresden Files had become the 6th season of Buffy but less problematic, and I feel now that the series is any season of Buffy, really, demolishing the character’s way of life to bring forth something stronger from the ashes.  What that will be, at this point, is anyone’s guess–at least till the publication of the next book, and the one after it, and the one after that…

It seems strange to me now, twelve books later, that I’m more interested in the books than I was.  I found the first three tolerable, entertaining but leaving me with no ability to put my finger on the main character, and I don’t know if I would have continued if not for the recommendation of a friend.  I said before on here I didn’t like the 4th, but I don’t know if I’m confusing it with another, because I would’ve sworn four is where I started LIKING them, or at least appreciating them.  But now I’m committed to following the series until its end.  Butcher has yet to let me down–and, in fact, the one aspect of Harry Dresden that drives me nuts was a key element of Changes, bless Butcher’s heart.  I hope it too will be resolved by the end.  Or is that evolved?

Finally, disappointingly, I read the last of my Harlequins.  It’s probably not the LAST-last, but it was the last on my list that I know of.  I’ve found others here or there, but I haven’t really sat down and been sure.  I hated this one so much that I gave serious thought to crossing off the name of the title and writing in “Stockholm Syndrome” but hey.  You’ll see…one day.

But I’m progressing on my recaps so maybe it won’t be as long as I thought.

Let me tell you though; if I had been a psych major, these things would’ve been a GOLD MINE.  As a lit major, they still are, but…my God.

Next week: IDK, I’m outta Dresden stuff!  Actually, I’m not–I have a few of the short stories left–but I’m waiting on holds in that case.  I think I’m going to raid the to-read case and try to make a much bigger gap.  Good times.

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