Book news:

Finished Revelation Space. The glaciers were worth it. Interesting to see how he turned a science fiction trope on its head, and the end was very satisfying in other respects as well, though I dislike it when a book ends at, y'know, the end, rather than giving us a couple dozen pages to see what the New World Order looks like and come down from the book high. Neal Stephenson has this habit too. Annoying.

And then, for something completely different, I read Anne Bishop's Daughter of the Blood. Hrm.

Technically, the book drove me batshit. POV characters multiplied like rabbits throughout; at the midpoint I counted ten, and after that I lost count. It wasn't until that midpoint that I was able to narrow the potential main characters down to two, and not till the end was I sure of them. The time compression was rather starling; a scene break might indicate a change of POV, or the vanishing of a few months, or both. Sometimes a scene started with the same character a few hours, or minutes, after the last scene, sometimes days or weeks, but mostly it wasn't specified and you had to guess. I found myself in a state of disorientation throughout the book, unable to guess at which head I'd be in next or how much time had passed, utterly bereft of any anchors.

The other thing that threw me out of the book was the sex. It is a book about sex. I don't mean that there are a lot of explicit sex scenes, although there are some. I mean that I can count the number of relationships in the book that aren't sexualized in some way on the fingers of one hand. (Including the relationships with the twelve-year-old girl. Eww.) Since sex plays a small, fun, but ultimately minor part in my own life, this left me yawning through much of the book that I wasn't going "eww" through. It was so... predictable. Everybody either has or wants to have sex with everyone else, with levels of eww-ness and respective positions depending on how much the author wants us to sympathize with the character. Ho hum.

There are some good parts as well, though. It's set up early on that this is a messed up society waiting for a savior, and much of the book is setup for that savior, which does necessitate some eww-ness. The characters are pretty good when they're not obsessively having/contemplating sex. There is gender balance: the book is neither feminist or mysogenist, either of which would have killed it for me, but rather a wholehearted condemnation of sex-as-power for either gender. And the savior herself is simply perfect for the setting. There's also a lot of raw humor involved in giving a twelve-year-old girl more magical power than anyone else in the world... and a certain amount of potential pathos, which Bishop handles with a light but sure touch.

All and all, it was an enjoyable bit of light reading, and the exasperating problems were balanced out by the redeeming humor and the hope that things will at some point get better. I compliment Bishop on setting up a world that is quite real and that I can look forward to seeing ripped down. Here's hoping that the next few books in the series have more of the good and less of the bad.


Revision Progress: 299 pages (of 385) (three-quarters done! Yes!)
Changes: Largely line edits and clarifications.
Up Next: Big crashing plot scene. Gotta check for believability, which means must... read... slower!

posted at 09:54 AM on 07/05/05 by kat - Category: Books - Comments closed because I was getting enough spam to run over my bandwidth limits. Sorry guys!
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Comments

Kellie wrote:

I steam-rolled through that series by Bishop. Liked it, but found the third book, especially the culmination, just not what I expected in a sort-of bad way. I still highly recommend it, though. With our knee-jerk, Puritanical societal elements, it's always good to see sexual themes handled well (even if overly prominent) without flinching. Another reason why I really enjoyed Carey's Kushiel trilogy.
07/05/05 01:14 PM

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