Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Book 3: Cormorant

I like to read sequels as quickly as possible thanks to the groaning saga of getting the next Game of Thrones novel (pick which one) published. So, after knocking out Mockingbird, I tooled up the Amazon Prime and snagged Cormorant. I still like the Miriam Black saga, but this one went off the rails a bit for me. Overly violent and brutal at times (and unnecessarily so), this is even darker than the predecessors in some ways. I think Wendig is falling into the trap of trying to make each book bigger and badder than the last, which detracts a bit from the enjoyability of the first two. Sure, there was violence in the first two, but here, the violence is more random, less personal, and very brutal. The narrative structure with multiple timelines works a bit, but the "now" timeline never makes sense nor does Wendig make more than a tepid effort to have it make sense. Still, Miriam is one of my favorite characters in urban fantasy and is worth reading, though if the violence and brutality remain at the current level, I won't be as enthused. It saps some of the fun.
Dresden O Meter:
Plot: 8. Interesting and action driven. Kept my attention and I read it every chance I got. Falters a bit from the narrative structure, but still engaging. The lezbo stuff is very silly, highly gratuitous and reads more like a lame penthouse letter.
Central Character: 10. Miriam Black is so much fun. A bit of a male take on a hard ass woman at times at times, but she reminds me of people I've met.
Fantasy Hook: 6. I see how people die, but I can change that if I give the fates someone else. Not terribly original and it creates some problematic issues given that multiple murders seems to be in the future of just about any bad guy that Miriam encounters, so saving one person by offing the offending baddie probably has downstream implications, but oh well. It works with Miriam although it could use some tightening in the explanations.
Supernatural: 5. It's not a supernatural world the Miriam inhabits, though there are others who develop similar "gifts." The real problem is that the supernatural element, once it gets beyond Miriam, is undeveloped and poorly explained. It's kind of a catch-22 though. The supernatural element is usually at its best when it is undeveloped and mysterious. As it becomes better known, the mystery dissapates and the supernatural element gets tired. Overall, Wendig keeps Miriam's curse extremely tight. It's when he gets into the interaction and consequences that it gets very convoluted.
Character Interaction: 8. Miriam is just an awesome character. She's largely in the dark most of the time as to what's happening around her, but that doesn't matter. Her response to her gift is classic in it's determination.
Overall, the book is about an 8 thanks to a noirish writing and pacing and a brilliant central character. The "fantasy" part often creates more questions that it solves with some real consequential inconsistencies. But still enjoyable as hell.

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