This Week, I Read… (2017 #26)

83 - Fire Study

#83 – Fire Study, by Maria V. Snyder

This book tried to cram too much plot into too little space, and the writing suffered for it.

First, the pacing issues. It seemed like every chapter, someone was kidnapped, captured, injured, killed, or they disappeared, or they betrayed Yelena. (That seemed to happen a lot more than warranted.) There were very few quiet moments to allow the reader (or the characters!) any rest. That kind of high-level tension throughout the story definitely led to burn-out for me.

Second, lack of character development. With everything being rush-rush-rush, a few of the new characters are nothing more than names on the page. I couldn’t tell you anything about them except whether or not they, at any point, betrayed Yelena. Which was a problem in its own right, because the complexity of the plot, which might have worked well in a longer novel, involved far too many of these cardboard characters working against Yelena in secret, or being manipulated by magic to betray her, or not being manipulated by magic to betray her because they were really evil the whole time. The “twists” came so fast they dissolved into a blur, though I spotted one particular and supposedly unexpected betrayal several chapters before it was revealed. I mean, I thought it was obvious, why didn’t everyone else notice?

Finally, the speed of the plot meant the writing depended heavily on expository dialogue. As characters were separated and reunited by the whims of the convoluted narrative, they had to spend huge amounts of page-time catching each other up on what had been going on in their absence. Talking-heads style dialogue with little or no action to break it up is alright in small doses, but this wasn’t at all small, it felt like half the book.

The half where Yelena wasn’t throwing herself into danger with little thought because she’s headstrong as hell. At least that stayed consistent.

84 - Size 12 Is Not Fat

#84 – Size 12 Is Not Fat, by Meg Cabot

DNF a little earlier than I usually give up, around page 50-something.

For a character who’s dealing not only with weight issues, but the public perception of her body due to her being a former pop star…maybe she shouldn’t body-shame other women?

Early on, I actually liked the way Heather handled the sales assistant who was being borderline-rude to the thin girl in the dressing room next to hers. That gave me hope, that this wasn’t going to be a fat-girl story that does nothing but thin-shame.

But later Heather has a whole internal monologue about how pointy and stick-like and un-huggable another woman is, and that’s okay, I guess, because it’s not a stranger this time–it’s a character she actively dislikes.

Yeah, sure, that makes it completely okay.


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