I couldn't even get through the first 30 minutes of this book. The reader chose a voice that was supposed to be gritty, dark, cynical. To me, it was an unlistenable reading -- bland, too slow, substanceless, even disrespectful to an audience trusting the audiobook narrator to interpret character voices and drama. I've had a similar cringy reaction listening to authors reading their own fiction. It was just terrible.
And, even more sad for me (I'm feeling pretty silly, considering the other positive reviews and overall legacy of the book), I.... just didn't like the writing. As far as I could force myself to listen, the author's skill in this case was not worthy of the intelligence and concept of his vision -- which was brilliant. Even within the initial pages/words of the book I recognized his creations as conventions now folded into our whole cultural consciousness. From other reader comments here and elsewhere, it's obvious this book is the genesis of a subgenre of fantasy and science fiction we now take for granted. I love the idea, I'm fascinated by the creativity, and I am passionate about great stories that helped shape fiction.
But I just couldn't get through this spoken book.
I started it again thinking I had been distracted and would tie into it the second time. Nope. So I paused the book. I listened to traffic and my head for awhile. I flipped off a driver who cut me off. I called a friend on speakerphone. I tried the radio. That was even worse. I was procrastinating at that point. I turned the book back on. Still not doing it.
I'm going to take advantage of the new Audible "exchange" feature and exchange this book for something by Neil Gaiman, and then try Necromancer again in ink to see if shaping my own voice and style for the book brings me to the epiphany everyone else had. If you got through my review, thanks for reading.
Yes, I would selfishly like a decent plot and intelligent dialogue along with my romance.
Admittedly, the romance between Ronin and Amery was sweet and even hot on occasion. The erotica was mild enough not to be uncomfortable for a non-erotica reader. However, the romantic scenes became bland and there were WAY too many, even for a book in this genre. It felt like 80% of the book was sex or the rope bondage scenes, which got old about 25% of the way through. Worst of all, the dialogue was stilted and uninteresting and the characters were bland and lacked dimension. I didn't have any emotional response to them here, which I blame on the poorly written neediness in Ronin and the ambivalence in Amery. Amery's mom/dad and Naomi were one-dimensional and caricatured to the point of non-readability. Some promising personality presented in the first book from the dojo instructors, Molly and Amery's friends just dried right up in this sequel.
This sequel was a letdown. Admittedly, the first book wasn't that good either, but it was hotter and with more interesting characters and more tension. For example, Ronin's strong alpha personality was better written and the rope-play was an interesting new twist, while in this second novel it was overused. I yawned my way through Unwound and barely finished. I found myself playing video games while spacing out on the dialogue since there were whole sections I wanted to just skim. I gave it two start only because I managed to get through it.
Regarding the narrator. I LOVED Luke Daniels as a narrator for the Iron Druid series. Here, his light, somewhat flippant tone is mostly wrong. (NOTE unrelated to this book: I nearly lost it when Daniels made Amery's mom/dad's voices sound similar to Oberon from the Iron Druid series.)
I didn't make it through this whole book. I really wanted to like it. I tried it sober, with alcohol, on Audible and in Kindle. No go. I just can't get past the first few chapters. My blechy parts included the terrible dialogue, an attempt at bad street speak between the brotherhood, over-the-top alpha descriptions, silly naming convention (seriously? Rhage, Zhadist?), seriously cliched plot (a paranormal romance CAN potentially have a decent plot), and poor-little-badboy-had-a-difficult-past interchangeable characters.
If you are looking for something in the paranormal romance genre try these:
PNR Rated 5 to 8 eyerolls: Characteristics: Somewhat annoying but still fun and romantically intense, sexy paranormal action, decent alphas and entertaining, quick-reading storylines... but with a hefty amount of cliche--gratuitous sex, unreasonably large male appendages, too much nipple "suckling", soooo wet "feminine channels" and strong but slightly silly female characters:
Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter and Psy-Changling series; Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series; Karen Marie Moning's Highlander series; Thea Harrison's Elder Races series; Christine Feehan's Ghostwalker series; or even Suzanne Wright's badly edited but entertaining Phoenix pack and Deep in your Veins series.
PNR Rated between 1-4 eyerolls: Characteristics: A better quality of writing with good--even witty--dialogue, strong females with fewer silly moments, plot-driven romance/sex, more creativity in world-building, but still totally hot alphas:
Karen Marie Monings Fever series, Jeaniene Frost's Cat&Bones or Night Prince series; Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels or The Edge or Clean Sweet; Elizabeth Hunter's Elemental Mysteries, Cambio Springs or the new Irin Chronicles; Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson; Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock.
Honorable mention: Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series comes in around 4 eyerolls. It's really entertaining and a fun read, but Rachel is such a vascillating twit sometimes. Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series rates a solid 2-3 eyerolls for her first nine books, but rides waaaay off the eyeroll rails after book 10 or 11. Surprisingly, Dannika Dark's poorly edited Mageri series entertained me at a high level despite her intrusive and overzealous use of simile in every other sentence. I'm adding Mageri to this list, but giving it a shaky 5 eyerolls for the editing.
The Poison Princess premise is interesting and fresh: Teenagers are periodically reincarnated during humanity's darkest times, fighting a battle to the death to entertain gods who no longer exist. Their gory, cyclical personas are memorialized as the characters in Tarot cards. The story is as much about young relationships, evolving feelings and teenage angst as it is a fantasy battle. I was intrigued, interested, entertained, and sad to find the final page.
I put off starting the Arcana series because I'm a "vintage" adult and... come on... there's a squick factor to reading a YA book written by a hard-core adult fantasy romance writer. After reading, my feelings were a little mixed. KC doesn't tiptoe around teenage lust and sexuality - and rightly so. Ignoring sex and hormones in a book targeted to our worldly teenage culture would be seriously disrespectful. It's just that I had to do a bit of a number on my head to remember who the target audience is so I could bypass the "statutory rape" cultural taboo.
Even as I enjoyed the story, there were a few things that gave me eye rolls: "Romance Novel" cliches; some creaky plot contrivances that might be resolved in the later books; and excessive, helpless whininess from Evie -- *months* past the point she should have started hardening up.
Worst was the narration. Emma Galvin has a charming voice, but she's a one-trick pony. Her attempt at Jack's cajun accent made me cringe - especially since a Creole dialect is almost inhumanly charming. At least she could have practiced the flow and pronunciation instead of fumbling all over the words. Plus, there was little differentiation between character voices past the introductory sentences. I'm spoiled by more experienced narrators, and I think she needs a lot of coaching on how to bring the characters to life.
Enjoyable book, but I'm hoping the rest of the series tightens up.
Recently I've had trouble finding audiobooks (or any books) that interest me. I used to be addicted to listening to audiobooks, but lately it's almost a chore to listen. This one, though, made me want to listen on the way to work, washing dishes, vacuuming and falling asleep. And then I listened to half of it again. Sometimes beautifully written prose is boring prose for most readers/listeners. Sometimes an author is more enchanted with the feel and sound of the words than with winding a compelling plot. Sometimes boring books are rewarded by reviewers because they sound pretty, even though they're brutally boring. This book has both beautiful prose and a story that kept me coming back.
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