Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The epically (sort of) spontaneous The Cuckoo's Calling

So, I, obviously, went out and got The Cuckoo's Calling as soon as I could after I heard the announcement. Much like The Casual Vacancy it's not necessarily something I would have picked up on my own. Even though the cover looks a lot like a YA book.

A lot of people will roll their eyes at me for reading anything that J.K. Rowling puts out. They're entitled to do that. I think they're jerks but, hey, go for it. At the very least I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and for a book that I know is going to be well written, even if it's not my cup of tea.

I'm going to keep this one as spoiler free as I can but be wary.

I don't think I really compared this to Harry Potter while I was reading. Mostly because it's a completely different beast. I'll talk a little bit about how I differed my reactions between the two works here, though.

Anyway, from what I can tell, and my mystery knowledge is minimal, it's a fairy standard mystery. And oddly enough I could draw distinct parallels between Cormoran and Heather Wells, from Meg Cabot's books. Which, made me think that it was even more standard mystery than I had originally thought.

Cormoran is a big, hairy (it's mentioned several times), one legged, war vet who is now a private detective. He's a war hero and the illegitimate son of a rock star. He's gruff, he's horrendously in debt, kind of a drunkard, and has just broken up with is self destructive fiancee (If you've read Heather Wells can you see some of the similarities?). He's clever and he knows it but he's also thorough.

While reading I felt sympathy for him only on and off. Perhaps it's due to the differences between writing a book for a wider, and younger, audience and one for mostly adults. In this book Rowling pulled no punches on unflattering descriptions. No one in this book is perfect. They're so human, and so flawed. In Harry Potter we needed to be sympathetic with Harry. I think that's the way character driven plots are. In mysteries, the characters should be interesting but they aren't necessarily what keeps you reading. You want to know who the killer is and how they did it and how the detective figured it out. It's a different sort of draw and one that I always struggle with a little because I am such a character reader. I want to feel connected.

I think Robin is the character we're supposed to feel most connected to. She's new to this world, coming in as a temp. She has no idea who Cormoran is or what the world she's dropped into is like. She's so excited to be working with a detective that it's endearing. She is our every woman character. But I wanted more of her. Cormoran is the main character, it's true, but with Robin as the everywoman I sort of wanted to see her more.

I was never 100% sure where this was going. I liked that. I had guesses, but guessing has never been a forte of mine and I so hate being wrong, so I seldom do it. Then again, I was less interested in who did it than how and why. Those became more interesting to me has the story progressed.

Anyway, I'll say that I'm impressed with how it was all plotted out. I think she did a fantastic job of working all of these details in and weaving all of these plot line together. And she definitely left herself room to keep going. There are several things I can see being picked back up.

So, overall, I give Robert Galbraith's The Cuckoo's Calling a rating of: Massively Epic.

It's well done and I will most definitely read the second when it comes out next year (I will faithfully continue to pick up anything she writes) but it's not necessarily the sort of book that I latch on to.

Have any of you read it? Have any thoughts?

I'm already about halfway through Alex Lidell's the Cadet of Tildor and this one is definitely for Tamora Pierce fans. She will also be at my work on August 3rd. But More on that later!

Until then,

-A.M.Y-A

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