Cursed: An Alex Verus Novel – Benedict Jacka

So, one day later and I’ve read the sequel. The speed suggests I’ve spent all day focussed on it (I have) but that’s more a testament to how little I have to do at the moment than the quality of the book.

Having read the previous Alex Verus book, I can’t say as anything in Cursed came as a surprise to me. By the end, I was getting minor surprises at the few times he /didn’t/ fall into trope holes. It certainly falls into the rule about sequels. If I had to quantify it, I’d say it’s about 2/3 the book that Fated is, but it feels more like 1/2, because it’s enough like Fated to make anything clever or interesting he might do kind of dull, because he’s already done it.

Not that any of this surprises me. I was expecting pulpy sequel, and paid my £4 to get pulpy sequel and pulpy sequel is exactly what I got.

That said, I like me a good pulpy sequel sometimes, and it did explore a few more areas of the setting that the first book left out, while continuing in a style that, while without much literary merit, is at least thoroughly enjoyable and runs at a pleasing pace. The author even has a go at character development, though without much success. After his soul-searching, Verus continues to be exactly the same in almost every way, and entirely unaffected by anything he might learn about himself… either he is a ridiculously balanced and open individual (he’s not painted as such) or the author just sucks at portraying people with depth. I’m going for the latter. But, really, I don’t mind. I want to mind. I do quite want to know the characters better. But at the same time, it probably would have got in the way of all the goings on of the book, so I’m quite happy to let it slide here.

I think this is the only real way that Jacka gives away his beginning as a Young Adult author. I’ve read enough teen fiction (a lot of it when I was probably too old for it, but never mind) to know that this sort of skimming over personalities is fairly normal in some parts of the genre. Not the girly, angst ridden parts (I’m a girl; I’m probably allowed to say that… besides, it’s true), where personalities are picked over, emotions fully explored and generally events disregarded in favour of watching people get upset about each other (seriously, read any of the Tithe/Valiant/Ironside books by Holly Black… so much /drama/). But in the other sort, skimming over people in favour of events is fairly common, I think, and so this might just be Jacka writing what he knows. I haven’t actually read any of his YA books, so I could be talking nonsense here, but I’m willing to bet this is true there.

All in all: originality – no
character development – no
surprises of any kind – no
high quality writing – no
worthwhile reading – probably yes.

I enjoyed it. It was an easy book to read, and an easy book to waste a few hours of a boring day on. I’m glad I read it. But I probably won’t read it again.

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About readerofelse

A student of a redundant, useless and thoroughly interesting subject and reader of many books, particularly fantasy, science fiction and plenty else besides.
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