Oops, I forgot I read this. I’m aware that’s not a good sign. It’s been… two weeks now? Oh bugger, more like a month. The boyfriend and I went book shopping in February, and discovered we’d both had our eyes on the same two books. Obvious solution – we each buy one and do a swap. I bought Steelheart, and obviously read and reviewed it back in early February, then borrowed this a couple of weeks later. I’m kind of hazy on the time, to be honest, at the moment, so I forget. Possibly the boyfriend may not be borrowing Steelheart anyway now (we have differing opinions on the sanctity of the physical form of books… which tells you everything you need to know about my thoughts on the subject) so I got the most out of the deal.
This is all, however, by the by.
What is more important is the reason I forgot to post about this book – it’s just kinda dull. My initial attraction was that, from the cover, it looks like more urban-fantasy alt-London, and that’s a great reason to read a book. Also it’s red. Red is exciting. Shut up. The problem is it just doesn’t live up to what it looks like it’s going to be. It is urban-fantasy alt-London… but there’s nothing really new done with it, and it’s nowhere near as good as other examples of the same I’ve read. If you want that sort of thing, read Neverwhere. Read Kraken. They are just better. I’m tempted to assume this is young adult literature, and thus let its many faults slide because they’re faults that often plague the YA genre (like that’s an excuse for shoddy writing), but I don’t think it is and I don’t have the book to hand to check. And even if it were, that’s still no excuse for lack of originality. Well… ok, no, that’s not entirely fair. He does some things in the book that are not things I’ve otherwise observed in the genre. But they’re just not done with the flair you find elsewhere. They’re not cool or exciting. They’re just… oh, so that’s a thing? Fine. Sounds legit.
I have to admit, a lot of my disgruntlement does come down to something I haven’t whinged about in a while – I dislike the female lead. Book misogyny strikes again. With this one, while it is partly some female-related stuff that I think is just poorly written, I also just dislike her as a person. She is not someone to whom I can relate on any level. She is an angry teenage girl who spends a lot of time doing graffiti and bunking off school, and subsequently a stupid-brave angry teenage girl who does some quite idiotic stuff for reasons best explained as “because reasons”. None of this is stuff I identify with, nor do I want to. I can imagine how and why some people would, but I can’t see that it’s a huge section of the market for the genre. Maybe I’m wrong. But anyway, I dislike her intensely, and it sours the book for me a lot. The female support-ish character who doesn’t get much page time is actually pretty excellent, though. I’d read a whole book about her (because I prefer quiet courage and someone who endures a great deal for the sake of something good, and comes out of it having conquered their inner demons to someone who runs in without thinking to do something “brave”/stupid and gets considered a hero).
There are other characters in the book, yes… but they’re mostly pretty empty, I have to say. The boy/love-interest (it’s not a spoiler, it’s like the most obvious thing ever) is just… no, he has absolutely no depth to him and as such is not worthy of opinion. The dad is theoretically good, but again, kinda empty. There’s so much potential in so many of them that just didn’t get used, and it’s sad.
That kind of covers the whole book, though. There’s nothing wrong with any of the ideas, and nothing wrong with what he does with them… but what’s there just hasn’t been used to its best effect. I don’t think it ever could have been amazing, but with some work it could have been Not Dull. And that would have been a start.
All in all, a waste of a read, as far as I’m concerned.