Monday, August 16, 2010

A terrible month for books

It has been a truly shitty month for books for me.  No, I'm not talking about the official release timeline.  I'm talking about my personal reading timeline.  It feels like every book I've been looking forward to reading is determined to deliberately suck at me personally.

The first two culprits that spring to mind are Unholy Magic by Stacia Kane and Twice Bitten by Chloe Neill.  If you haven't read either of these, you should probably stop reading now because there will be spoilers of some degree farther on.  You have been warned.

Oh, a bit more before I get into it.  I'm perfectly aware that the target audience of these books is pretty much entirely female.  At least I hope it is, otherwise someone fucked up fairly epically.  Also, if you have an inability to tell the difference between an opinion and a fact, please don't bother arguing in comments;  I will most assuredly make you look like a retard if you do.

I'd been really psyched to read Unholy Magic since I finished and gave a glowing review to Unholy Ghosts.  Having a book suck when you expected awesomeness is far more disappointing than one you expected to suck from the beginning.  Therein lies the source of piss-offitude I have for Unholy Magic.

Unholy Ghosts: Female MC, not a chick book1.  Unholy Magic goes entirely the other direction and brings the Lex, Chess, Terrible triangle up as part of the primary plot.  Seriously?  If I wanted primary plot romance I'd be reading something with models in suggestive poses on the cover for fuck's sake.  You were supposed to give me Urban Fantasy, Stacia, not goddamn Paranormal Romance2.

Add to that Chess's seemingly complete inability in Unholy Magic to make a fucking decision and accept the consequences of it.  I'm specifically referring to her inability to decide if she wants to be with Terrible or Lex in the first place and her fucking around about telling Terrible important shit he would have needed to know if they were even going to just remain friends.  If your female MC appears to have been written by by Melvin Udal3, men4 will fucking hate reading her.

Twice Bitten I've read about halfway through and been stuck immediately after Ethan decides he can't have any romantic involvement with Merit because his protectiveness towards her could interfere with what's good for his House.  Epic alpha male character writing fail.  A man5 would have been quiet on the ride back and thought something like this:

Ethan's Brain:  This shit is going to be a problem.
Ethan's Brain:  OK, so which do I care about more?  My duty to the House or Merit?
Ethan's Brain:  The House, obviously.  I'm a guy who puts more importance on duty than personal feelings.
Ethan's Brain:  Right then, you fucked up.  Don't let it happen again.

He would then have told her that the House will always come first to him and he's sorry if she thinks that it makes him a rat bastard but he hopes she still wants to be with him.  Personal responsibility for your words and actions, it's a big thing with men.  Blaming her as the cause of his fuck-up and ending the relationship rather than owning up to his failure is the fundamental opposite of what a man would do.

I might get past that alone but there's also the bit with the RG in the first chapter.  The world hates those who betray a trust6 more than anything else and she most definitely would be betraying the trust of her House if she joined the RG without leaving it first.  That Merit even considers it lost her any respect I had for her.  Permanent disgust.  Full stop.  End of discussion.

So anyway, that's why I'm having a hell of a time finding the desire to read this month.  Hope you all are having a better time of it.

~The Mighty Buzzard

1  For now defined as being chock full of romantic drama that the story suffers for.
2  No, the difference between the two is not the guarantee of a HEA.  The difference is Urban Fantasy has no requirement of any romance at all and never has romance as the primary focus of the MC.  If the romance is more important than the rest of what's going on to the MC, you wrote some sort of romance novel rather than UF.
3  "I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability."
4  Yes, I'm aware some people in possession of a penis are indecisive too.  They may be male humans but they are not men.
5  Again, man not male human.
6  Traitors of course but also date rapists, child molesters, adulterers, Enron, politicians, and so on.  The commonality being they all betrayed the trust that was either implicitly or explicitly given them.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On Romance for @alebodden11

@alebodden11 @TMBuzzard I do have one question though- What are YOUR thoughts on Romantic comedies or books?

@TMBuzzard @alebodden11 I've currently no use for them unless the rest of the story is good enough to be awesome by itself.

@alebodden11 @TMBuzzard Can I ask why?

What it all boils down to is men pretty much just do not care about romance.

Chick who doesn't get it: You're full of shit. Some men are really romantic!

Some men are plumbers too.  That doesn't mean they go around giving a damn about whether your toilet is clogged or not aside from that you'll pay to have it unclogged.

The same goes for romance in our actual lives.  If we're doing something romantic it's because we care about either the woman we're being romantic to or about her getting naked in the near future.  Yeah, OK, or both.  The romance itself we couldn't really give less of a shit about if we tried.  It's strictly a case of doing something to illicit a response in her.

It's probably at least partially cultural.  Men aren't generally raised to look outside themselves for the validation of our worth that romance provides.  Barring an abnormally low self-esteem, we default to thinking we rock.  Witness our non-use of makeup1 and amazingly less volatile fashion industry2.  We never look at another man and hate him because he's better looking than us.  If you see a guy worried over his appearance to the point that he uses makeup3 or worries about fashion beyond not looking like a retard who dresses in the dark, you can bet the farm that he has severe self-esteem issues.

Back from that slight tangent, this leaves us with an entire gender that aren't junkies to this particular set of emotions.  The chemicals our brain gets flooded with during romance are somewhat pleasant but they don't feed a deep emotional need in us.  We're in a position where not just any romance will do to make us appreciate it;  it must be well written.  Consequently, we require stories (be they books, movies, or television) give us either a story that is good without the included romance or one that is passable with a very well written romantic sub-plot.  Romance as a primary plot line is a non-starter for us unless the writing is absolutely epic.  Probably not even then since I, at least, don't tend to go around believing marketing hype that something is epic and wouldn't even start consuming the media to begin with.

Also, romance novels in particular tend to either be written from either an exaggerated female perspective or a horribly, amazingly, astoundingly wrong male perspective.  This makes it damned hard to work up the necessary empathy with the main character to enjoy the book.  Believable male secondary characters can make the difference between an enjoyable female MC book and a "Why the fuck did I spend money on this" experience but they're just as rare.  I won't go into what makes a male character believable in this post, it's entirely long enough already.

Hope that helps.

~The Mighty Buzzard

1  KISS aside.  The music industry is highly competitive.
2  The tuxedo hasn't changed much in centuries.
3  Yes, I'm looking at you, goth and emo kids.