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14 July 2010 @ 05:14 pm
Book Thoughts: The Darkest Night  
Based on a recommendation from a writer friend of mine, I read the first book in a paranormal series by Gena Showalter called Lords of the Underworld. I so so did not like it.

I've been reading a lot lately, and I've been trying to really soak in a lot of different books in the big bubble of my chosen writing genre, both to study to improve my writing and know the market and to just enjoy myself. So I'm reading contemporary fantasy, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance, both on the adult and YA side of the spectrum.

A writer friend recced this book because it dealt with a lot of mythology, in particular Pandora's Box and Greek myth. I thought, hey that sounds good! And the premise is good. You have all these guys and gals who were created to guard the Box, but a bunch of them became angry when one person was favored over them all. So they opened the Box. This released the demons into the world. As their punishment, they were then each bound to a demon. So one person would be bound to Death and another to Pestilence, so on and so forth.

This book was about the man bound to Violence.

If you read my rant on Dead Until Dark, you know where I'm going with this.

What could have been an interesting book about man's propensity for violence and how to tame those dark urges in order to truly love instead became a book that highlighted how sexy and exhilarating violence in the bedroom can be.

Once again, you have all these people who just get so horny at the sight of their chosen person--I suppose because destiny is the only excuse I can find for it--that they forget that, oh, their captives or crazy guy who keeps pushing you around is well, crazy guy who keeps pushing you around.

This book was a lot like Dead Until Dark, actually. The heroine, Ashlyn, could read people's thoughts and desperately wanted to find some peace and silence. When she discovered Maddox could provide for her, she clung to him. Literally. Sookie Stackhouse is like Xena compared to this chick. Maddox shuns female companionship because he barely is able to control his demon, Violence. Plus, he has a death-curse at night which means every night his buddies, possessed by Pain and Death, come to him, kill him, and his soul goes to Hell. Then he comes back next morning.

I forget a lot of what happens because I read it about a month ago, but I remember widdle Ashlyn kept getting in trouble or hurt and Maddox would come to her rescue. She was poisoned at some point, when he was keeping her captive because he wanted to seduce her and she went along with it because he gave her mind silence, and when she was sick he held her hair and let her puke and all that fun stuff. They kept forgetting they were in a middle of a crisis for sexy times, too. The poor idiot kept getting verbal abused and knocked around, but I had a hard time caring.

I was far more interested in the guy possessed by Pain who kept cutting himself and the girl he liked, who was attracted to him but could care less about him. Even if that didn't make sense half the time either.

There were some good parts. The male characters were really funny and had some great banter and chemistry. The background and the overall plot were pretty good, too. And I could tell the writer was trying to have the characters pause and think, wow I shouldn't like this, etc., but it didn't work for me personally.

I heard a lot of people really liked this series. I guess if you like the big strong man takes care of the small woman trope, you might enjoy it. Heck, believe it or not I sort of dig the knight in shining armor bit, depending on how it's used and how capable the heroine is. I adore Superman, for cryin' out loud. But I don't know. I had series issues with the mix of sex and violence. Serious serious issues. This book rubbed me wrong so many ways that I'm a bit terrified of paranormal romance now.

I won't be reading the others in the series and I can't recommend it to anyone.

Soon, I'll be sharing some thoughts on Fool Moon by Jim Butcher, a lovely and fun series by Rosemary Clement-Moore about Buffy-ish character, and American Gods by Neil Gaiman, which I just started today.
Current Mood: grumpywtf?
Gategrrlgategrrl on July 14th, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC)
Yeah, you've just pounded a nail into the coffin of that bastard (as in, bastard progeny) of Romance/Paranormal Fantasy/Fantasy. It's not one thing, it's not another, but it's just full of those old tyme offensive tropes that I hated in the romance books my cousin used to hoard that her mother scooped up at estate sales. SEriously sick/ening stuff.

There's a lot of it out there, too. So you have to skim it in the store before you plunk your money down to buy it (or pull it out of the library). Just avoid that entire genre. There ARE pure Urban Fantasies out there without the sickening sex relationships. You just really have to dig for it. It's like being on an excavation. Try Charles DeLint.
Working for the Mandroid: Taking Namesmoonshayde on July 14th, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
See, I love romance. I have a soft spot for guys sweeping in and being heroic as long as the girl isn't a moron. And I'm not finding much in terms of a decent heroine. I really think it boils down to so many heroins not having a story aside from the romance itself while the guys gets cool backstories or other motivations aside from romance.

Even if I ever wrote paranormal romance, I'm guessing it'll sway more urban fantasy/contemporary fantasy anyway. I just can't buy into these tropes. I'd love to read a strong romance that didn't dive into these tropes so much.

I really need to read DeLint. We've friended each other on FB, but I haven't checked his stuff out yet.
Gategrrlgategrrl on July 14th, 2010 10:32 pm (UTC)
His women characters have their own flaws, motivations, etc. The only problem I had with his books is that, after reading several in a row, the *tone* or pacing of the books didn't change. At least, I think that's what made me move onto other authors after a while.

I don't mind romance, either (tho I know it doesn't sound like I do) but I don't like it being the main focus of the story, or when the woman is wimpy, or the male is too strong, or they conform to utterly sexist roles while purporting to be books for female readers. Would a guy willingly read that shit, if they were constantly in the major/minor role? I doubt it.
Working for the Mandroid: alec smilemoonshayde on July 14th, 2010 10:44 pm (UTC)
I love me some good plot and action, too.

One trope I dislike, but make exception for is the "destiny" plot. So if two people hit it odd right away and sparks fly and they think/realize the person is the ONE, that is okay with me, particularly if it's a short story or a novella since the HEA is a requirement. I don't necessarily like it, and think it often be the symptom of lazy writing, but it's a shortcut I allow if I have to.

But some of these other tropes...no. I have major issues when violence is promoted within a sexual relationship. I don't mind some realism or a boyfriend who gets jealous or has a temper sometimes, but the way I keep seeing violence written scares me. I also have issues with the slave/master thing or captive/captor scenarios.

And why, WHY would someone just forget everything they are doing to get horny because they see a hottie/cutie? This gets me every shot. I've been kidnapped by some crazy stranger I don't know! Oh, dang he fits his jeans well! I wish he'd take me right now!

Really? That doesn't even make sense to me. I can buy "last night on earth" scenarios but when you are in the middle of a crisis and suddenly all you can think about is sex that really bugs me.

I'm ranting too much.
     Mandya_phoenixdragon on July 15th, 2010 03:05 am (UTC)
Meghan: magnifying glasspeach_megumi on July 15th, 2010 04:27 am (UTC)
Yeesh. Sounds like one I will not be reading. I have to admit, there is a large rise in fantasy/horror-romance stories of a certain type, and I do not understand it. Even if I don't believe that every character has to be strong beyond belief (honestly, some of my favourite fictional characters are full of flaws and weaknesses), you hit a certain point where enough is enough. I'm also more than a little sick of the Sookie/Bella/MarySue of the girl who falls for the vampire/demon/etc with the will to change (and that's coming from someone who liked Spike in BtVS). I'm sure parts of it are quite good, but a lot of it sounds like fandom!badfic. If nothing else, they're a bit cliché.

Sorry, that turned into a slight rant. It just seems like we're being inundated with it these days.

I can't wait to hear your thoughts on American Gods, though - I love that novel. :-)

And, I hope you're feeling better.
Working for the Mandroid: Carside SamDeanmoonshayde on July 15th, 2010 11:59 am (UTC)
I don't need every heroine to be kick-ass just as much as I don't need every hero to be kickass. Let some girls be girly. And I love flawed characters or characters who aren't JUST about romance, even if some of those should exist.

This seems to be a wildly popular trope and I don't get it. I can understand people liking the girl falls for the "bad guy" who tries to change. Problem is so many of these relationships come off as abusive because that "will to change" ends up being very shallow. I don't feel like these guys mean it, and when that happens the female looks even worse for it.
Meghanpeach_megumi on July 15th, 2010 12:18 pm (UTC)
You've hit the nail rather exactly on the head.