Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Epic Reading List Mark Two: Halfway to the Grave

Reading List Mark Two Updated: 6/7

1. Mockingjay -Suzanne Collins

2. First Test -Tamora Pierce
3. Darkness Falls -Cate Tiernan
4. Page -Tamora Pierce

5. Where Things Come Back -John Corey Whaley
6. Squire -Tamora Pierce
7. Beautiful Darkness -Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
8. Lady Knight -Tamora Pierce
9. Cinder -Marissa Meyer
10. Trickster's Choice -Tamora Pierce
11. The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight - Jennifer E. Smith
12. Trickster's Queen -Tamora Pierce
13. Halfway to the Grave -Jeanine Frost
14. Tortall and Other Lands -Tamora Pierce
15. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer -Michelle Hodkin

Halfway to the Grave is the first of the books my mum recommended. It's not my usual cup of tea, as Paranormal Romance that's not Y-A isn't my first choice. But this was one of her favorites so I started with this.

I have to say that I wasn't all that impressed. It wasn't terrible but even in the parts that should have been action packed and fast paced I felt like it dragged a little. I had to remind myself I had to read it a couple of times while I was rereading parts of other books.

Cat is a likeable enough protagonist. She's fierce and has an old grudge that needs to be settled. That's all well and good. Her belief that vampire are all bad is practically shoved down our throats in the beginning. We got it and we understand that the vendetta against them comes from the fact that her mother was raped by one. That's fine, a good solid start as a matter of fact. But that's all there really is to it. I does give Cat the room she needs to grow but giving us a little she wants to protect humans or some-such would flesh her character out a little more. She actually comes off as a watered down version of Anita Blake from the beginning of that series (they got bad, I stopped reading them).

She was intended to be snarky. I love snark. And, sure, she was snarky but it wasn't usually clever snark. I felt as if Frost fell on the obvious sarcasm. I don't recall a specific instance of Cat's wit I found amusing. Usually there's a line or two I mentally note. Not this time. Cat was the outline of a damaged, snarky, fierce protagonist without any of the filling in or fleshing out.

Bones, our main male character, seemed to me a direct take-off of Spike from Buffy. Cat even plans to give him a long leather trench coat as a gift. I could see where he was charming but I was distracted by his similarities to Spike.

I felt as if the whole novel, despite dragging, did too much within it's pages and it suffers for it. Cat kills her first human in the novel. There was no lead up and backlash in her feelings about it. The character was introduced and killed in about three pages. I stopped at that point and wondered if I was supposed to care. Cat didn't seem to.

We're also introduced to what could have been a pretty cool villain in Hennessy. He barely had page time. He was supposed to be this big bad and he was dispatched too easily. He should have had a book or two to build up. I mean, it took Bones 11 years of hunting to track him down and with Cat as bait it's all finished in a couple of months. It fell flat and read of unimportant as Frost spent more time building Cat's dependance on Bones than she did on the plot.

When Cat says she loves Bones he says it was "worth the wait." Worth the wait of a 358 page book? It didn't even happen at the very end. He didn't seem to have to wait very long and Cat, while going to great lengths to tell us she was conflicted, didn't really feel it.

The best part was the classic arming scene before the big fight. Where she drinks his blood to be stronger. I do, admittedly, like the lines about not washing her family's blood off until it was covered by the blood of their murderer's and war painting her lips red with Bones' blood. Those lines were as fierce as Cat is supposed to be. I loved that. It was a different kind of dependance on Bones one that enabled her to be strong because of him but without her crying and him coming running.

I think one of the best elements of the book is the relationship between Cat and her mother. It's complicated and while I didn't understand it fully, I think it read well. I wanted to see a little more of  them together. Her mother clearly thinks Cat will go bad because of the vampire in her DNA but I wanted to see a little more of how she reacted to Cat before finding out about Bones.

I know I just spent the better part of the post bashing the book. It wasn't terrible it just felt a little half assed. When Cat is then recruited into a special paranormal branch of the FBI (which I didn't see coming) it felt like the whole book was set-up for that moment. But how many times did Cat have to beat up the two guys in the hospital room? We got it, you're bad ass. And sometimes the dialogue did come off a little...romance novely...which I realize sounds like a "duh!" comment but...

I did tell my mum, who was a little disappointed in my reaction to the book, that I would read the second to see if it grew on me at all. So, let's see where Frost took the story and if she learned to go deeper in the second. I've also been told not to expect too much from these kinds of books, but that doesn't seem fair. It has promise but it isn't a daring as it could have been.

Overall Rating: Not So Epic. (I kind of want to give it a Not so-Sort of Epic)

Have any of you read it? There are some racier scenes in it but they aren't too graphic. What did you think?

Next is Tamora Pierce's short story anthology Tortall and Other Lands which is the last of the Tortall books. Sad day.

Until them, my ducks.


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